Why natural labor induction doesn’t always work
If you landed here it’s because your due date is passed by and you start wondering what you can do to incentive a natural labor induction. Am I right? Believe me, I can tell you a couple of things about it! Ethan, my son, was clearly so happy just floating around in the amniotic fluid that he didn’t want to come out. If on one side I wanted to wait and let it happen in the most natural way possible, on the other side I really couldn’t wait anymore and, most importantly, I didn’t want to risk my little monster’s safety. If you’re in a similar situation, I suggest you to read until the end.
The average duration of a pregnancy is 40 weeks, but it’s not considered “terminal”, in the urgent sense, up to 42 weeks. This means that at 40 weeks, if the baby doesn’t seem to be ready, your midwife, obstetrician or gynecologist might start suggesting some natural labor induction methods before considering the pharmacologic induction.
..We always want to feel special here, so my family situation was slightly uncommon, but I’ll explain this better at the end of this article. Let me start by listing (not in order of importance) all the little “help” that my midwife suggested:
- Obviously rest, drink a lot, relax, etc
- Nipple stimulation
- Castor oil
- Specific infusions
- Exercises with or without fit-ball (if you don’t know what it is, click here)
- eat dates
- spicy food
- have sex
Please, keep in mind that my mom came all the way from Italy to the US to support me during my last weeks of pregnancy and that, obviously, she came with me to all my gynecologic appointments. I know, right?
As mentioned above, pharmacological induction is not advised until you’re very close to the 42nd week or unless there’s the risk of complications (which increase the more you get closer to the 42nd week). The reasons for this are multiple and definitely justified, but don’t worry. If you ever get to the point to use pharmacological induction, I want you to know that I’ve been through it and everything went well. Also keep in mind that the reasons why all the natural labor induction hacks didn’t work for me are particularly unique. Ultimately, if the doc suggests to incentive a natural labor induction through any of these methods, I recommend you do as he says. What didn’t work for me could easily work for you.
I know you’re at your due date right now and you probably don’t feel like laughing, but my personal experience will change your mind. So if you’re ready, let’s dive in and explore each natural labor induction method one at the time.
All the tips in details:
1. Rest, hydration and relax
These 3 things are necessary in any point of your life, even more when you have a little alien growing inside of you, right? In this case double up the dose of each one of them. Sometimes they might be the most effective natural labor induction tips. In my situation it was pretty impossible, the only thing that I could do was drink a lot of water, so I used to go everywhere with gallons of water.
2. Nipple stimulation
Without reminding you that my mother was there when the midwife was SHOWING me the best technique to massage my nipples, I must add that I already knew it wouldn’t make much of a difference and here’s why: this technique aims to stimulate the production of oxytocin, which is the hormone that causes contractions and milk supply. I started having contractions (even if “fake” ones) at my 7th month into pregnancy. Besides, I started producing milk even before I found out I was pregnant so it was clear that the hormone was abundantly navigating into my system already. It didn’t cost me anything to try though, so I did and… Nothing.
3. Drink castor oil
Not in my life! There, I said it. I was lucky enough to not have pregnancy nausea during the first trimester, why on earth should I risk that when I’m basically on the finish line?? No ma’am! If you’ve never tried it though, It might be worth a shot.
4. Specific infusions.
Now we’re talking. I took notes (despite my sore nipples) and I searched online. There are studies on the benefits of some infusions and I never really mind trying new ones, especially if they’re natural and have proofed effects. So I bought a couple and did my homework. Even so, nada, nothing, niet! Absolutely no effects whatsoever.
5. Exercise with or without fit-ball
I didn’t have a fit-ball but I know very well the benefits it brings since I practiced sport all my life (and also coached and trained for few years). Although, I was a bad girl and didn’t buy one (lack of time… Be patient, you’ll understand shortly!) If you have it or can buy one, I strongly suggest to find online the best exercises for pregnant women and give it a try. Either way, they’re really good for you and they seem to be one of the most effective natural labor induction strategies.
Walk a lot was the second advice. HA! That I could (and had to) do. But even doing so, my dilation was still at zero. Sigh! This is recommended especially if you are mostly sedentary either at home or at work.
I wish! If you have the chance I suggest to try it. Besides helping you relax, it triggers a chain of circulatory mechanism and lymphatic glandes purification which improves hormones release and the elimination of waste from your blood. I know, a lot of big words here. Let’s just say that there are specific massages that help the natural labor induction and stimulate the beginning of the contractions, also by using specific essential oils. Unfortunately, guess what? I didn’t have time for that either.
7. Eat dates
When she said that I thought I misunderstood. I asked her to repeat please and then, not happy yet, I started laughing in her face. How rude, right? Thankfully she was a good sport about it and laughed with me while she explained that, for how crazy it may sounds, studies showed that it actually really helps.
Most importantly, it seems to enhance a better post-partum recovery while reducing the risk of complications. So I went straight to the cashier with 10 packs of dates. Did it work? Obviously not, but hey.. I didn’t have any complication and my recovery was pretty quick. Coincidence?
8. Spicy food
Even if, as an Italian, I really like some spicy seasoning here and there, I unfortunately can’t have too much of it because it gives me heartburn. But a little red pepper in my spaghetti, why not? Clearly this didn’t work either.
For how curious I’ve always been about this practice, unfortunately it’s also pretty expensive (at least here in the US) and one also needs to be sure that it’s done in a professional manner. If normally the only way to find out is to actually try it, I personally didn’t feel like experimenting during pregnancy. But if you already have an acupuncturist that you trust, ask him/her advice on this technique and let me know. I’d love to hear if it actually helps.
10. Have sex
Ehm… I wanted to point out once more that my mom was sitting there at less than 3ft. (and she also understands English very well), but we’re in the 21st century so I tried to ignore the awkwardness of the situation. After all it was a midwife prescription, right?
The reason why sex is strongly recommended to stimulate a natural labor induction is because sperm contains prostaglandin which helps with the dilation. Besides, orgasm might trigger the contractions so why not combining business with pleasure, right? 😉
The mystery unraveled
Finally, here’s why none of the above mentioned methods worked for me.
Let’s start by number 10: Sex. You should know that my husband can be very self-centered sometimes, to the point that he decided to get appendicitis only few days before my due date. I know, right? What a glorious timing. He got surgery and thankfully all went well. Nonetheless, you can imagine where the bar of my stress level was and how fun it was to go back and fort from the hospital.
Not to mention that sex was clearly out of question. When my midwife threw that advice on the plate with a huge smile on her face thinking I’d be happy to hear that, I had to explain to her that few hallways apart of that same hospital, my husband was hospitalized. Well… We were torn between laughing or crying, I promise.
But wait because that’s not it. Only a week after being discharged from the hospital, he didn’t quiet show the improvements that I was expecting so I decided to call the surgeon. I was pretty worried honestly. The doc ordered me to bring him immediately back to the hospital where my deepest fears were confirmed: he was developing two (not one because it wouldn’t be enough) abscesses that absolutely needed to be drained to avoid complications. Basically he got a post-surgery infection. Once again, saved by the skin of his teeth. And obviously all this at 2 in the morning.
You were wondering why I could barely rest, relax or get massages? That’s why. I was so tense that my pelvic floor closed in sign of protest.
On the bright side, this is the reason why you shouldn’t absolutely get discouraged by my experience and follow as many of the natural labor induction methods as you can.
It’s important though that you don’t do anything before receiving specific instructions from your doctor or obstetrician. They are the only ones who know the right timing and which of these natural labor inductions tips can be more or less appropriate in your personal situation.
Always keep in mind that, in “normal” situations, the fruit falls from the tree when it’s ready, so don’t give up hope just yet. Maybe your water will break on the way to buy your fit-ball.
Each one of these natural labor induction techniques might help you avoid the pharmacological induction. So be a good mom, roll up your sleeves and try them all. Soon the belly will be gone and you’ll be able to tide your shoes again 😉
P.S.= if you’d like to know how the story ends here’s a quick recap:
- I scheduled the pharmacological induction on the same day my husband had the drainage removed from his butt-chick (yes, you read that right!)
- I walked into the hospital on the scheduled day and we started the procedure
- After 18 hours of inducted contractions, no dilation whatsoever occurred so the midwife tried to “force” it using the Foley bulb, which is a small balloon filled with water that would push the dilation. But since I’m lucky like that, the balloon didn’t stay, so she manually forced the dilation. After trying to kick the midwife in the face to death for the pain, I put myself “in the zone” following the rhythm of my contractions.
- After 18 more hours Ethan was in my arms. At that point inductions, midwife and dates too were all my best friends.
All was forgiven and forgotten.. Well almost… Until Ethan started having baby colic.
But we adjust to everything, right? 😉
P.P.S= if you like this article, don’t forget to share it! 🙂