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Ways to Induce Labor Naturally

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37w, 1d. I’m officially full-term now, which allows me to feel excited about the prospect of meeting this baby within the next several weeks (I mean, really, there is an end in sight now). But I’m also technically “early term”—meaning not yet at 39 weeks, which is when fetal gestation is now considered complete (and why hospital inductions and C-sections are now discouraged until then unless medically necessary). It’s kind of a fine line I’m walking with my midwives as it relates to my high blood pressure—constantly examining and re-examining the pros and cons of keeping this baby cooking inside me vs. getting her (and me) out and out of harm’s way with regard to my BP.

Thankfully, I feel like I’m in tremendously good hands—with two incredibly caring and detail-minded, intelligent midwives, as well as a maternal-fetal medicine specialist who is used to dealing with high-risk pregnancies in a way that homebirth midwives like mine are not. My blood pressure has been climbing as of late (I’m responsible for monitoring at home daily and reporting any changes to my midwives), and so I’ve had to go for some additional testing to rule out the onset of pre-eclampsia (and luckily all has been clear), as well as more ultrasounds to keep tabs on the baby and an additional consultation with the high-risk specialist. She wasn’t as alarmed by my blood pressure readings as my midwives were initially—but then when the readings jumped again, heading into seizure/stroke danger zone early this week, I won myself a prescription for blood pressure medication, something I’d been lucky enough to avoid thus far.

Fortunately, no one feels like I need to be induced immediately—and I’ve even been told that I’m still on track for a homebirth at this point, unless things worsen. But I’ve also been told that they’d like me to have this baby by my due date—and that’s become kind of a hard deadline for the specialist. All of which is to say, it’s go-time in terms of preparing my body for labor. I’m not trying to send myself over a cliff at this point and go into labor tonight or anything, but I have been given the go-ahead to start trying a number of natural ways to induce labor, including:

  • Acupuncture (which I’m now doing twice a week—but focusing on labor preparation, not labor induction, which is a different, more intense kind of treatment)
  • Evening primrose oil (inserted nightly you know where)
  • Sex (and lots of it, despite this recent study which found it does not actually induce labor—but seriously, don’t tell my husband that)
  • My midwife stripping my membranes (sadly, it just caused some minor cramping—nothing more), but we’ll try it again next week
  • Nipple stimulation
  • Caulophyllum (a homeopathic remedy)
  • Red raspberry leaf tea (supposedly good for strengthening one’s uterus—but not a true means of jump-starting labor)

What I’m not doing this time around but have tried before:

  • Exercise (which I’ve been advised to avoid because of my blood pressure right now)—specifically walking and climbing stairs
  • Spicy foods (just because I never felt like they did anything for me other than give me heartburn)

What we may try if I’m still pregnant at 39 weeks (which I’m guessing I will be, given that I’ve given birth at 39.5 weeks both times before):

  • Castor oil
  • Foley balloon catheter
  • PATIENCE (I'm pretty sure I'll have little of it by then!)

I think it goes without saying that you should speak with your OB or midwife before trying any of these methods on your own.

Did you try anything to get labor going? If so, what worked (and what didn’t)? Please let me know in the comments below!

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