Even if you do everything right all nine months, your pregnancy may write its own plan. Sometimes you just may carry late, and your baby is fine but not rushing. If you’re planning on having a home birth or going to a birthing center with a midwife, you’re in the clear up to two weeks past your due date. After that, because of medical liability, your midwife would be legally obligated to bring you to the hospital to get induced. The hospital doctor might even say you have to have a C-section. But don’t worry! Here are some tips that can naturally help nudge your body into labor mode!
1. Natural Stimulants
Take natural remedies to speed up birth if your labor drags on, such as raspberry leaf tea and castor oil. Raspberry leaf tea has been used in alternative medicine for labor and delivery because it can help induce uterine contractions. It has a pleasant taste and gives a gentle effect. Do not take before 36 weeks, however, since it may cause preterm labor contractions. You can also continue to take raspberry leaf tea after birth for postpartum as a uterine tonic. Castor oil can be taken in small amounts to induce labor because it produces prostaglandins, which cause cervical stimulations. Take care not to consume too often or in large amounts, as that may cause diarrhea (which would be awful to deal with during labor!).
2. Get a Prenatal Massage
Massage relaxes your nerves and muscles, which puts your body in a good position to start labor contractions. Prenatal massage can help stimulate birth contractions if you go past your due date.
True story: I know a woman who was almost a full two weeks past her due date (the baby was fine, just taking his sweet little time), and she was going to have to be induced if she didn’t go into labor within her next 15 or so hours. So she went to get a prenatal massage, then her labor contractions kicked in less than six hours later, and she birthed her healthy baby less than 18 hours after that! She said even if the prenatal massage hadn’t worked, it felt so good it still would’ve been worth getting.
3. Take a Good Walk
Although this is not a definitively proven method to directly induce labor, walking is a good form of exercise that will contribute to a healthier birth. It also can help stimulate circulation while simultaneously relaxing your abdominal muscles. It puts gravity on your side and helps move the baby down into labor position. My own mother went into labor with her third child after a long walk when she was pushing a double stroller up a hill!
You can also try curb walking: Safely walk alongside a curb with one foot up on the step and one foot down on the street, then turn around and go back on the other side. And even if the walking does not help start labor contractions, all women would benefit from walking while pregnant and close to delivering (if possible).
4. Labor Positions
There are several labor poses you can practice, especially around your due date or if you go past it. These may help (literally) position your body into better alignment for labor by relaxing your nerves and abdominal muscles, and also use gravity to gently push your baby down closer to the birth canal. Practice these daily while breathing deeply. These positions can also help speed up labor once it’s started.
Down dog: Kneel on your hands and knees, then bring your head down to rest on your folded forearms.
Lunging: Put one foot up on a secure object (couch, chair, stair) and rock side to side, taking care to relax and let your body gently sink deeper into the lunge. This helps to widen the hips.
Standing with your feet wide apart, keeping your hips over your ankles, can keep your body in good alignment while doing everyday activities. Be careful not to slouch.
Sitting on a birthing ball in a neutral pose with your legs wide apart can help open up the pelvic floor. Try gently bouncing, rocking side to side, and circling your hips.
If possible, and if you feel up to it, have sex with your husband around the due date. Sexual intercourse can help ripen the cervix for labor and may help move the body closer to labor if you go past your due date. What gets your baby in can also help get the baby out!
If you can’t or don’t feel like having intercourse, loving gestures, caresses, and nipple stimulation (you can also do this yourself), and kissing still produce oxytocin, which puts the body into a more relaxed, positive state that is better for labor. Healthline says oxytocin is the natural form of Pitocin, which makes sense because, in addition to being the “love hormone,” oxytocin plays a big role in infant bonding and physiological relaxation.
Bonus Tip: Once you start labor, you can use a TENS therapy unit to distract yourself from the pain of labor contractions – hello to a drug-free pain relief option! TENS is short for transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation, which involves the use of low-current electrical currents to manage pain. These little electric currents, or shocks, travel from the unit’s electrode pads to the nerves right under your skin.
Although TENS is not advised to use for labor induction, it can be effective for pain relief after labor starts. Most helpful at the beginning of labor, the tingling sensation will release endorphins and intervene between the labor pains and the brain’s receptors, thus helping reduce the sensation of pain. A TENS unit is also a small device that’s easily held in case you want to change positions or walk around with it. Usually, the sticky pads are applied to the lower back. Just like a hairdryer, do not use it in the shower, bath, or birthing pool. See here for tips for use!
After nine months of carrying your baby, odds are you’re done with being pregnant and want your baby to come ASAP so you can finally snuggle with him or her! It can be frustrating with an extra wait, not knowing how much longer it’ll be until your baby comes, especially if you’re past your due date already. Every woman’s pregnancy is a different experience, but one of these methods might be your baby’s expedited ticket out of your tummy and into your arms.
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