You're pregnant and you just passed that 40-week mark which means like a kid on Christmas morning (albeit with much grander results), the anticipation kicks in. Whether it's because you can't wait to see your baby's sweet face or you are a resident of Uncomfortable City (or both), it's not uncommon to start wondering, "How can I go into labor tonight?" But the answer isn't quite as simple as you might hope.
Teresa Van-Zeller, founder of Birthing As Nature Intended and an advanced certified clinical hypnotherapist, tells Romper in an email interview that while there are many ways women attempt to induce labor, including sex, walking, castor oil, visualization, spicy food, and/or medical inductions, the fact is "none of these methods will work if the baby is not ready to come. I have never known a baby to stay inside," Van-Zeller says. "I have however seen many complications arise from attempts to get labor started before the baby is ready to come."
According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), some methods of induction may cause the uterus to become overstimulated, causing it to contract too frequently. Too many contractions may lead to problems, including changes in the fetal heart rate and issues with the umbilical cord. Other risks of cervical ripening and labor induction include infection in the mother or fetus, uterine rupture, and increased risk of cesarean birth, ACOG noted.
"The bottom line is that there is no reason to induce labor quickly when there is no medical indication for it," Van-Zeller says. "It is so rare to have a true medical reason for inducing labor."
But what exactly would be a reason for inducing labor? According to Fit Pregnancy, induction might be necessary if a baby is showing signs of poor growth or distress, or is more than a week or two overdue. On the other hand, mothers with high blood pressure, preeclampsia, uncontrolled diabetes, and/or certain health conditions may require a medical induction, the website noted.
But what about non-medical forms of induction? Are there any safe methods when your due date has passed and labor is on the horizon?
Carley Mendes, a registered holistic nutritionist, childbirth educator, and expert at The Tot, tells Romper in an email interview that while women should exercise caution when trying to induce labor, there are some safe ways to stimulate the process when a baby is full term, including walking, squatting, and climbing stairs to “move your hips and encourage your baby to descend.” Sex is also helpful in encouraging labor because "the prostaglandins in semen can help to prepare the cervix and the female orgasm can softly stimulate the uterus,” Mendes says, adding that sex is only safe if your water has not yet broken.
Dr. Elizabeth Trattner tells Romper that you might also find results by paying a visit to a licensed acupuncturist. "There are four main points, along with a few extra points, that can help an overdue mom along," she says, adding that the large intestine and urinary bladder each have a point that is conducive to triggering the labor process. "I have treated women for over 20 years and I have successfully helped start moms to be in labor."
Like all experts, however, Trattner is quick to emphasize: "Make sure the mother is at least at her due date when considering induction. Also, a good acupuncturist will not induce a high risk patient unless her OB-GYN has given the mother her OK."
Which is really the point of all of this, right? Healthy baby, healthy mama. It can be tough to keep in perspective when you reach the point where tying your shoes becomes a feat of strength, but it really is worth the wait once you are holding your little one in your arms.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.