natural preparation methods for labor

Welp, my due date is NEXT FRIDAY. Yea, it’s a little crazy to be able to say that, but I’m definitely ready. The little labor “scare” on Sunday night/Monday morning made me realize I’m ready, I’m not scared… I can do this!

So I thought I’d share some little tips and remedies to naturally help prepare yourself for labor. These are NOT induction methods–I am a strong believer that your body won’t go into labor unless it is ready.

Of course your body was made to labor and birth and you really don’t have to do anything. But if it might ease the process? And it’s natural and safe? I’ll try it! Here are some things I’ve come across–I’m not necessarily doing them all, but just wanted to share them with you:

Evening Primrose Oil: oil from the seed of the evening primrose plant. You can find this in pill form pretty much anywhere (I got mine at Target). It’s a great source of prostaglandins (it contains the precursor), which help soften your cervix and get it ready for birth. It’s probably best to wait until you’re full term before using this, but it’s not going to start labor if your body isn’t ready for it–the idea is more to help get your body prepared. Pills can be taken orally or inserted vaginally (or both!)–take 2 pills a day from ~36-38 weeks, then 3-4 pills a day from 38 weeks on.

Acupuncture: Researchers at the University of North Carolina completed a small study with 56 women (39.5 to 41 weeks pregnant). Half of the women received 3 acupuncture sessions, the other half did not receive any. 70% of the women that had acupuncture went into labor on their own, without medical intervention–compared to 50% of the women who received standard care (no acupuncture). The women who got acupuncture were also less likely to deliver by cesarean–39% compared to 17%. *Certain acupuncture points are said to trigger labor so it’s important to go to an experienced, licensed practitioner who knows areas to avoid (unless of course you’re past due and trying to induce).

Nipple Stimulation: Like most things listed here, I don’t believe it will cause labor to begin unless your body is ready for it. So I view it as another preparation method, not an induction method. Nipple stimulation can cause the release of oxytocin, which causes uterine contractions. If you’re already in labor and want to possibly help things progress, this is a good option. Some use manual stimulation, some use a breast pump. Maybe even a warm stream of water from the shower. Me? I have a nursing 2-year-old that works perfectly 😉

 

my nursing 2-year-old

 

Raspberry leaves: This comes in two main forms: tea or pills. I have Red Raspberry Leaf Tea from Traditional Medicinals. It’s safe to consume throughout pregnancy and is thought to help shorten labor, reduce the need for interventions, and lessen pregnancy complications. How? It’s rich in iron and helps tone your uterus and ease labor pains. It also decreases nausea and increases milk production.

Sex: two reasons. Number 1: semen contains prostaglandins. Remember we mentioned that in the evening primrose oil? Prostaglandins help soften and ripen the cervix, getting it ready for birth. Number 2: the female orgasm can trigger the uterus to contract, helping labor along (technically you don’t need sex for this one). *Do NOT have sex if your water has broken.

Walking: Walking or being upright allows gravity to go to work. The pressure of your baby’s head against the cervix can release oxytocin, which causes contractions. It also helps tone your uterus for the hard work ahead. Just don’t tire yourself out!

Perineum Massage: The perineum is the area of skin between the base of the vagina and the anus. By massaging this before birth, you reduce the risk of tearing and have an easier recovery. It helps increase the elasticity of your pelvic floor. How to perform perineum massage.

I’ll spare you a picture 😉

Kegels: These exercises help tone your pelvic floor muscles and should be done throughout your pregnancy. They help make you more aware of those muscles so you’re better able to relax them during labor, which will help reduce pain and allow them to do their job. Strengthening these muscles through kegel exercises will also aid in the pushing stage. How to practice kegels.

And of course there’s the prenatal yoga, eating well and getting enough iron/protein/etc, taking your vitamins… And I’m sure there are many more… plus plenty of crazy ideas to try to induce labor, like spicy foods, castor oil, (more) sex…

What have you tried or what has worked for you???

 

9 comments to natural preparation methods for labor

  • Don’t forget squats and yoga ball exercises!

    [Reply]

    babydickey Reply:

    Ohh yes, of course!! I’ve been doing lots of squats, but have yet to blow up my yoga ball because I can’t find our pump! I better get to the store and get a new one asap.

    [Reply]

  • Out of desperation,(or stupidity!) I went the castor oil route after off-and-on contractions for weeks. BIG MISTAKE! I have never felt sicker in my life, and the results were…Well…I’d rather not go into too much detail, but the mess was not confined to the toilet and persisted for several hours. Plus, I ended up with a very painful hemmeroid from the ordeal that didn’t go away until my daughter was over a month old. Not fun. No matter how eager you are to jump-start labor, step away from the castor oil! SOOO not worth it!

    [Reply]

    babydickey Reply:

    Hahaha, awwww — totally NOT funny because I’ve heard stories about castor oil, but still funny lol, sorry 🙂 Yea that’s why I didn’t include it in my main list, I’d never try it–unless it was like an absolute LAST resort. It affects the intestines and the *idea* is that the intestines are near the uterus and might help cause a reaction… but most of the time, it just causes lots of……….. bowel movements, lol. So sorry you went through that!

    [Reply]

    Brandy Nelson Reply:

    Oh it WAS funny…I laugh at it now, 2 years later. But at the time? It felt like my very pregnant, aching body was going through Armaggedon! My poor husband had to clean the results, which ended up all over the bathroom, including walls, in the shower, in the bed, on the carpet…HORRIBLE! I literally turned into a human fire-hydrant from both ends. Castor oil=BIG no-no! I thought it would get the contractions going, and it DID, but not enough. I didn’t make the same mistake when we had our son 12 months later!

    [Reply]

    babydickey Reply:

    hahaha, ohhhh man that sounds absolutely terrible!!!

    [Reply]

  • Heather

    Great blog entry! thank you for all the great information!

    [Reply]

  • Jessica F

    great post and good luck!

    [Reply]

    babydickey Reply:

    thank you! 🙂

    [Reply]

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