Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tips & Tricks for Inducing Labor: Crap or Not?

Let's just say this: they don't even know what causes labor to start.  One story is Mom's hormones, and another is Baby's secretion of surfactant in the lungs.  Could be something in the baby's brain.  Given that doctors can't figure out what element you're aiming to kickstart in the first place, they sure can't make any promises about what's going to make it happen.  Like many other uncomfortable pregnant ladies, I am willing to try, and Snopes be damned.


This is supposed to help release oxytocin.  Since hospitals often induce labor with a manufactured version of the same hormone, Pitocin, that seems like a reasonable connection.  (Ricki Lake and natural-birth fans like myself will be quick to tell you, of course, that Pitocin is over-used in hospitals by impatient doctors and that it often results in very strong contractions, followed by a snowballing of other interventions.)  One other bonus to pre-labor sex is that semen contains prostaglandins that may stimulate contractions.  This is of no relevance to me, of course, but is nice for other folks with free semen available.
In my experience, however, sex at 39+ weeks-- or really at any point after the bump emerges-- is kind of an ordeal.  I'm sure there are lots of ladies who don't have this problem, and I've heard that lots of ladies actually have a hyped-up libido during pregnancy, especially in the second trimester.  To be fair, my antidepressant regiment doesn't allow for much libido in the first place, so I'm not a great example.  Still, we've given it a go, and it takes profound powers of concentration that don't lend themselves to frequent between-the-sheets efforts. 

The main thing is that I can barely move.  I often fall asleep on my back (a pregnancy no-no) just because the rotation from one side to the next takes so much energy that I pause and drift off halfway.  Under the circumstances, it's hard to be an active participant.

Another thing is, hey, there's a baby in the center of the action.  There is nothing to distract from sexy time like a kick in the ribs.  How do you come back from "Don't hurt the baby!"?  The mental effort of getting into, then staying in, the mood is super-human. 

If you weren't already alarmed enough by my over-sharing, one other aspect is that one's lady parts don't look or feel quite the same this far into the pregnancy.  I don't actually know when they started looking different since I haven't seen them for months, but Heather tells me things are wonky and I'm confident it's true.  Some parts are over-sensitive and other parts are numbed out, and there was no admiration in my loving partner's voice when she said, "Baby, your clit is huge!"  Midwife Amy said that sounded like a good thing, but she didn't hear how aghast Heather was. 

Anyway, if you have free seminal fluid around and you're comfortable being a swollen pillow princess, sex might be a terrific option.  For me, eh.

Spicy Food

Since today's midwife appointment was near our favorite Indian restaurant, Heather and I took the opportunity to kick up our usually mild shrimp biryani.  The chefs there did not disappoint.  The bitch of it was that I needed a lot of water and naan to counteract the spiciness, and my pathetic pregnant tummy cannot accommodate.  I spent a good deal of our lunch break trying to breathe deeply and keep everything down.  There is a waiter at the restaurant who took a shine to me several years ago-- I've no clue why-- and he likes to bring free food, which was all the more uncomfortable today because, god almighty, my stomach is so small.  Still, I felt obligated, so we had some koftas (meatballs) with our meal, then followed with a small dish of ice cream.  By that point, I was starting to sweat from the combination of spiciness and the effort of keeping everything in place, and I left feeling less optimistic about labor starting than anxious about whether the spice would even stick. 

I will say, though, that I got some solid kicks from Baby Evie during the meal, and I'm happy to do anything that will rile her up.

Eggplant Parmesan?

This came straight from Midwife Amy in our afternoon appointment.  Allegedly, there is a restaurant (she said it's in NYC; the internet says Georgia) whose eggplant parm inspires labor in full-term pregnant women.  I have zero interest in eggplant, and even less in making an elaborate Italian dish, but my dad is a superb cook with some post-retirement time on his hands, so I duly forwarded the recipe in the hope that he'll help prompt his first grandchild into the world. 

Other Labor-Inducing Foods

According to the internet-- and, really, what else is there?-- there's a possibility that pineapple could help.  Pineapple was suggested for cervix-conditioning right before & during ovulation, so I see the logic in softening the cervix the same way for labor.  I ate a lot of pineapple pre- and post-insemination, and who's to say if it actually helped, but I did get pregnant.  Anyway, pineapple is delicious and doesn't require three hours of prep work like a giant Italian casserole.  I had some as a late-night snack yesterday, and I'm hoping that eventually my stomach recovers from lunch so I can eat more this evening. 
The internet further suggested some kind of watercress salad that I just didn't care about and ginger cookies, which I am totally willing to care about.  Dad got that recipe, too.  Heather watched a series of videos by a lady trying to jump-start her labor when she was in danger of pre-eclampsia, and they tried black licorice, too.  I love black licorice, so I am totally on board with that effort.

Castor Oil

The lady in the video took castor oil, and I've heard a lot about it elsewhere.  The theory goes that the powerful laxative qualities in castor oil irritate/stimulate the rectum, and that it can snowball into starting labor.  The popular method here seems to be two tablespoons in a big glass of orange juice, and Midwife Amy says she's heard of people mixing it with Dr. Pepper, too.  If it's as disgusting as they say, I'm thinking taking it like a shot would be the quickest way, but I also think irritating my rectum and not starting labor would be infuriating.  I'm informed that the baby's head functions like a snow-plow during labor, expelling anything from your rectum that's available, and I'm not super-motivated to deal with those effects sooner than I have to, so the castor oil will have to wait till I'm truly desperate.  It remains to be seen when that panic will kick in.

Physical Stuff: Walking, Bouncing

Walking the baby right out sounds awesome unless you are pregnant and your whole pelvis aches.  Bouncing on an exercise ball is a little more my speed, literally, since at least when my pelvis starts aching, I can just curl up somewhere else with an ice pack.  There are surprisingly few spots in our neighborhood where you can stop walking to put an ice pack on your pubic bone.  (I've been using these soda cozies that we got for Christmas.)  If the cold pisses off Baby, all the better: if she wants to escape it, she's gonna have to get out.


  1. When you don't post for a few days I wish I had some other way to know if she's here! - Kate and Lita from Texas

  2. We're still waiting! Either my water just broke or I'm peeing on myself randomly, but labor could still be a ways off. Still, I'll take what I can get at this point!

  3. I can't believe I've been keeping up with y'all for 4 years and it's finally going to happen! So incredibly happy for your family!! K&L