Written by Guest Contributor: Sarah Moore
Inducing labor naturally sounds wonderful, but what in the world does it mean? It sounds to me a whole lot like “wait around and be patient.” Not easy when you’re already bigger than your house and your neighbor’s house combined. Can you relate?
I started getting excited about my future baby when I was roughly three years old. Of course, I waited for an entire childhood, adolescence, young- and mid-adulthood, and a miscarriage along the way to have a ready-to-be-born-child, so those last 40-ish weeks felt plenty long.
By the end of my pregnancy, I was so incredibly ready to finally meet my baby! After all, I’d wanted her my whole life. There it was, though — well-meaning friends who weren’t carrying what felt like a million-axle semi-truck in their uterus to say, “Just a little longer!”
By the end, it. is. hard. to. wait.
Still, I wanted a natural and unmedicated birth. As a result, I wanted to avoid any unnecessary interventions that might’ve put my sensitive body at risk for C-section or other “help” I didn’t want. (Note that I write that with incredible respect for women who voluntarily or involuntarily have C-sections. All that matters is a healthy baby and a healthy mama when all is said and done.)
By the time I was eight days past my due date (yep, that’s week 42 of what’s supposed to be 40 weeks for those who are counting), I clearly remember my male doctor looking at me and saying, “I’m starting to feel a little uncomfortable.”
Oh, the irony. I reckon he’d never truly known “uncomfortable” but he was looking it straight in the eye. He told me he’d give me 48 hours before admitting me to the hospital for medicated induction.
“Okay, baby,” I thought, “Let’s do this!”
Natural Ways to Induce Labor
I spent some quick quality time with Google and researched natural ways to induce labor Granted, I’d already taken a Bradley Method® class, attended all the workshops at the hospital where I’d planned to deliver, and read something like four trillion pregnancy and delivery books.
Not one of those resources, however, had said, “Here’s what to do when your doctor gives your uterus an ultimatum.” So, after weighing some options, here’s what I tried (but please check with your medical professional; I’m not one):
- Acupuncture/acupressure (gave me contractions, but didn’t send me into labor)
- Long, brisk walks (gave me contractions, but didn’t send me into labor)–do I get an extra Girl Scout badge for having taken these walks in 105-degree summertime heat while staying safely hydrated?
- The, ahem, activity that got me pregnant in the first place (gave me contractions, but didn’t send me into labor…and please don’t tell my parents that I ever did that; I’m told that fantasies of immaculate conception work both ways)
- Spicy food (gave me bad breath, but didn’t send me into labor; on the bright side, it didn’t give me any more of those unproductive contractions)
After those didn’t work, I tried more desperate measures. In hindsight, these were all really bad ideas:
- The earthquake simulator at the local museum (the magnitude of 9 did nothing but send every observer of my “extreme pregnancy condition” into near cardiac arrest; I don’t recommend this tomfoolery, regardless)
- Hand washing the floors (gave me contractions, but didn’t send me into labor…and yes, I consider manual labor at what felt like 400 months pregnant a desperate measure)
- Castor oil (okay, I didn’t try this one; I figured I’d end up vomiting the baby out if I tried a teaspoon of it)
STILL a no-go for me. What the what? Any combination of those “natural ways” to induce labor may have helped to some degree because I did manage to have “real” contractions. However, they ended up stopping each time they started. I always went back to square one.
Strangers stopped asking me when I was due and started asking me, “Ooooh, how many babies are you having?” Oh my.
Here’s what ultimately did work as natural ways to induce labor:
- Patience (yep, the last thing I wanted to hear when I was bigger than several small countries combined)
- A visit to a chiropractor for a pelvic adjustment (I had to find a chiropractor who knew how to work with pregnant women – not just any chiropractor)
- Stripping membranes (my OB/GYN did this; it doesn’t feel awesome and makes you kind of cramp-y, but it’s not terrible)
Finally, labor started. Hooray! It made up for lost time, though—my contractions started at two minutes apart. Woah! That’s not pack-the-final-things-in-the-bag time; that’s “Oh, I think baby will be born in our kitchen!”
Fortunately, baby settled down a little and gave me just enough time to get to the hospital (my preferred plan at the time). As I swayed in full-on labor in the hospital parking lot, not sure I could make it to the hospital’s front door before meeting her, I remember looking up and seeing two birds mating under a tree about three feet from me.
Had I been able to speak, I’d have warned them about what was likely to happen (talk about the “birds and the bees,” yes?); but since I couldn’t speak in that moment of labor, I simply smiled.
I continued to smile as my healthy and happy baby came into the world, safely inside the hospital. In that moment, it was as if all of life before the first time I held her—and all of that waiting—had been only a blink of time. Waiting? Patience? It was all for this.
And so commenced my journey into gentle parenting.
About the Author
Sarah R. Moore is a published writer, positive parenting educator certified by the Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring, wellness advocate, and world traveler. Her work spans the globe, reaching readers on six continents and appearing in publications such as The Natural Parent Magazine, Scary Mommy, and Macaroni Kid.