Two Things That Are Helpful In Starting Labor
Your due date is fast approaching (or maybe it came and went) and you can’t wait any longer to meet your sweet little baby. Maybe your OBGYN has started mentioning induction and you’d really rather not, just yet. You turn to Google (we’ve all done it) and the Facebook mom groups.
“What can I do to make labor start?!”
Better buckle up, because you are about to get a flood of suggestions! From teas, herbal tinctures, various positions to sit in, chiropractic care, acupuncture, spicy food, special salads, and essential oils. To name a few.
I’m not saying that these don’t work or that they won’t make you more comfortable or that they don’t have a place. But before you spend your afternoon in the Miles Circuit, maybe check your Bishop Score and let me suggest a couple of things that I always tell people when they ask me what they can do to either prepare for birth or to get labor started.
Disclaimer: I am not by any means a medical provider. There are many reasons why your OB or midwife may suggest induction for the safety of you or your baby. Please consider these recommendations and suggestions in light of their expertise and experience!
Hormones are the name of the game when it comes to labor starting.
Contractions are what causes the cervix to soften, efface, dilate and tilt forward; and hormones, namely oxytocin, is what cause contractions to start (among other cool things). So to start labor you need to produce oxytocin - how can you do that? Well, as we know, oxytocin is also known as the “love hormone” or the “attachment hormone”. It is the hormone produced when you are skin to skin with someone you love, it is produced when you hug your partner, it is produced during orgasm, it is produced when you feel safe and relaxed. Give you any ideas?
Yes, sex is a great way to get labor going! You produce oxytocin, orgasm stimulates the cervix and uterus into action and semen contains prostaglandins, a hormone that helps to soften the cervix. Besides, once your baby arrives, it’ll be at least another 6 weeks before you’ll be cleared to have sex again! Now is the time to get it in (yes, pun intended).
Speaking of things you won’t get much of once baby arrives, that brings me to the second thing you should do while you’re waiting for your baby to arrive…
Take naps. Go to bed early. Sleep in when you can. Sleep, sleep, sleep! This is not just for the sake of savoring every moment of precious sleep you will ever have again (just kidding, they sleep. You will sleep again, I promise. Might I suggest a Postpartum doula in the meantime?). No, I am telling you this because just like sex produces the right hormones for labor, relaxing for the purpose of sleeping also produces oxytocin! Oxytocin also peaks after 5 hours of sleep. Studies have shown that a higher percentage of babies are born between 8 am and 12 pm, which means that labor is happening during the evening hours or at night - when you’ve been sleeping (or at least trying to) or while the lights are dimmed. Most of the call I get from women in labor happen during the night and the one thing that all say is “I just couldn’t sleep through the contractions any longer!” Labor is well on its way!
Does this mean that none of those other things listed have any validity or use?
No, not at all! By all means, go to the chiropractor, walk the stairs, do the Miles Circuit, drink the raspberry leaf tea, put Evening Primrose capsules in your vagina (yep that’s a thing), but know that labor will start when your body and baby are ready. In the meantime, focus on you and your partner, connect with them, spend time snuggling in bed and sleeping as much as you can! Your baby will be here before you know it and these last few weeks of waiting will all be a distant and hazy memory.