The Waiting Game Childbirth experts don't think most at-home methods work. It's just a week until your due date. You're scouring the Internet for some way to coax baby out on time -- or maybe even a couple of days early.
The message boards are full of suggestions for inducing labor "naturally. Understand this sign of labor. If so, labor is on the way. First, have you heard of "nesting? For some women, it's a clue that baby day could be coming up soon. It means labor isn't far off!
If you notice brownish or red-colored mucus called discharge coming out of your vagina, it could mean your cervix is opening up. Your water could break before or during labor. It could feel like a big gush or a steady trickle. Sometimes it's hard to tell whether it's the real deal or just pee, so let your doctor know ASAP if you're not sure.
She may want to know what color the water was and what it smelled like. When you have contractions that gradually get stronger and closer together, that means the countdown to a baby is on! They'll be so powerful that you won't be able to walk or talk while you're having them. And they won't go away if you move around or change positions, either. Exciting signs like these mean it's time to call your doctor. She'll let you know when to head to the hospital or birthing center to welcome your little one into the world.
But does anything really work? Childbirth experts say there's no good proof. The only safe and reliable methods for starting labor involve medications given at the hospital. Most other techniques are rumors, unlikely to help at best and potentially harmful. Only a couple show any promise, and the jury is still out on those.
Continued Inducing Labor With Acupuncture Acupuncture might help bring on labor, but it's too soon to say. In parts of Asia, it has been used for centuries to jump-start labor. One small study at the University of North Carolina found that women who got acupuncture were more likely to go into labor without a medical "push.
Forty weeks is full term. Half of the women got three acupuncture sessions, while the other half did not. Harper, who now practices maternal fetal medicine in Albuquerque, says the small size of her study means more research is needed.
She hopes acupuncture might one day help more women give birth vaginally. Can Sex Bring on Labor? Another strategy that gets positive reviews from doctors and midwives is inducing labor the same way you started your pregnancy -- by having sex. Although there's no proof sex can start labor, there is a good reason why it might.
Harper says sex releases prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that are like the medications used to induce labor. And it won't hurt to try!
Make sure your water has not broken and your doctor or midwife has given you the green light. She adds that it's important for the man to ejaculate inside the vagina. Either there's no evidence to support them or they might work but carry risks. If you plan to try any of them, consult your doctor or midwife first.
Going for a long walk is "good exercise ," Harper says, "but I don't think that it helps bring on labor. Exhaustion is not a good way to go into labor. It's a popular theory, but there's no direct connection between the stomach and the uterus. So, there's no reason to think a particular type of food will bring on contractions.
Stein sometimes recommends taking a small amount of castor oil after the 38th week. It's indirect via stimulation of the bowels, which lean on the uterus. This only seems to work when the body is ready to go into labor. I don't recommend it, because you could get moms dehydrated.
Some women try starting labor with cohosh, but doctors caution that this herb contains plant-based chemicals that may act like estrogen in the body. Harper is more positive about another herb, evening primrose oil. It has substances that your body changes into prostaglandins, which soften the cervix and get it ready for labor. For women with high-risk pregnancies, Harper says they may be induced very close to or just before the due date.
Some risks of complications require induction well before the due date. For low-risk pregnancies, she says, 42 weeks is "the absolute cut-off" for allowing pregnancy to continue. Continued Inducing labor usually starts with taking prostaglandins as pills or applying them inside the vagina near the cervix.
Sometimes this is enough to start contractions. If that's not enough to induce labor, the next step is Pitocin, a man-made form of the hormone oxytocin. It stimulates uterine contractions. Harper says it's vital that Pitocin only be given once the cervix is open and ready for labor. And though that's the most exciting moment of your life, you might want to slow down and not rush through things.
Stein recommends saving your energy, rather than wearing yourself out with schemes for starting labor sooner. In other words, get some sleep while you can!