February 17. One of the many dates I was told Harper would be born. And therefore a date that will always be significant to me.
Why so many due dates? Well, when it comes to due dates there is no true exact science. It is an educated guess at best. There are some good ways to calculate when your baby could possibly arrive, but it all boils down to whenever the baby is ready. I, for one, wasn’t concerned at all with the date on the calendar, I just wanted Harper to be born happy and healthy. But, because I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, my doctors would not let me go past 40 weeks, with fear that Harper would be too big to deliver. And even though no one was ever really sure when my true due date was, they wanted to be as conservative as possible, so they aimed early.
Last year on February 17, I was considered by my doctors to be 40 weeks. At that time they checked my cervix to see where I was with my dilation and effacement. And…there was absolutely no activity whatsoever! Fine by me. I just figured that Harper was enjoying my warm little womb and was a bit too cozy to be disturbed. But by medical standards this could pose a risk. So, if I wanted to go through with a natural home birth, I had to do my best to put my body into labor.
Here is a short list of some of the methods I used to help naturally induce my labor.
1. Evening Primrose Oil: Evening Primrose Oil is an herb that is used for a variety of things. One of its many uses is to help the cervix thin and dilate, getting it ready for labor. A few weeks before my “due date”, my midwives suggested that I began using evening primrose oil. I would take a few capsules orally and also use some as vaginal suppositories. Although this method doesn’t directly induce labor, ripening the cervix can help the baby’s head engage deeper into the pelvis, which can help with dilation. I didn’t see drastic results with this method, but I do believe it was helpful in preparing my cervix for labor.
2. Acupuncture: Acupuncture is beneficial for many reasons. It stimulates the flow of energy in your body, removing any blockages. It has been used in parts of Asia for centuries. It is relaxing, revitalizing and when it comes to inducing labor naturally, acupuncture is one of the safest methods you can use. I started seeing an acupuncturist at 36 weeks pregnant. And as we got closer to my “due date” her efforts to prepare me for labor got more aggressive. Acupuncture needles were inserted into my hands, lower legs and feet. The acupuncture stimulation was used to normalize the hormonal levels of the body, thus encouraging a natural flow of energy, resulting in a natural progression of labor.
3. Sex: As I approached my due date, I was told by my midwives to have a lot of sex. Sex is effective in inducing labor because semen contains prostaglandins which stimulate the cervix, possibly leading to contractions. This was Freddie’s favorite method, for obvious reasons. To be honest, at 40 weeks pregnant, sex was the last thing I wanted to do. I was tired, uncomfortable and big. But if it was going to help bring the baby out, it was the least I could do ;)
There are a handful of other techniques you can use to induce your labor naturally. These are just the three that seemed to work best for me. But with any method you choose, it is important to talk with your practitioner to make sure it is a safe and healthy route for you.
Even with all my hard work, Harper decided not to make an appearance on February 17th. So my midwives started to make appointments for me go in for some non-stress tests. But luckily, we were approaching a weekend and so I wasn’t able to be seen until Monday, February 21. And well…Harper was born on February 20, so it all ended up being for nothing.
But the moral of the story is, in my humble opinion…when it comes to giving birth, women have been doing it since the beginning of time. And while I highly respect the opinions of the medical industry and am grateful for their knowledge and expertise, everything from conception to birth is a miracle. One that we have little part in. So I think it is best to trust your body, and trust your baby. Believe that just as your baby was growing in your belly in the most perfect way, and in the most perfect time, your baby will arrive in this world when they are ready. Because at the end of the day, they all come out some time :)