Want to go into labour, like, now? Our top six tips.
When sleep is impossible, strangers start saying any day now, and your hands and feet are swollen to the size of a novelty sports hand... It’s time for baby to arrive!
Oh yeah, I feel ya. I've been in your shoes – or flip flops, if your feet are anywhere as big as mine were. Once full term hits, most of us are not only ready to be through with the whole thing.
But alas, babies come when they’re ready...
There's comfort in that. It means your body and their little bodies are working together to determine the exact right time! That said, mind, body and spirit: you are part of that, and there are ways that you can help to prepare and encourage b-day along.
Here six things I personally tried once I reached full term in my pregnancies (my daughter was right on time and my little guy arrived one merciful week early!):
Walking is a tried and true way to help labour along
My pelvis was in such bad shape going into my second birth that I couldn’t really walk, but the morning before my first baby was born I walked 5k!
I got this jolt of energy and the walking helped distract me from the contractions that were starting. If it is accessible to you, I really recommend movement to help bring on labour (squats, too!).
Acupuncture has a lot of research-backed benefits for pregnant people
This was huge for me. About two weeks before my son came, I was feeling a lot of anxiety. As much as I was ready to be done with pregnancy, I wasn’t ready at my core to welcome the birth process.
I had been going to acupuncture to mitigate anxiety throughout my pregnancy, and began the shift to cervical ripening at term.
Then I got hit with a really sharp sense of fear. What if this second pregnancy wasn’t as good as my first? What if this baby is too big like everyone keeps freaking me out about (spoiler: he wasn't, people have no idea)?
So I went in one more time and explained how I was feeling. I told them to level up! When I left the session that day, a sense of calm washed over me - I even called my doula and told her baby would be here soon. Three days later, one week early, it turns out.
The spicy food bringing on labour experiment
Heartburn be damned - this might have just been the great excuse for some takeout Indian!
I hate to break it to you but the spicy food thing rests comfortably at urban legend-level. But hey, the worst case scenario is that you've eaten something delicious.
Does raspberry leaf tea really help start labour?
This is one of those "hey, it can't hurt" ideas. Anecdotally, it's been claimed that raspberry leaf tea can help shorten labour and stimulate contractions.
Unfortunately the science isn't there yet. Still, I sipped a cup and it at helped me feel like I was doing something to speed along baby, and that psychological component matters. Actually.
Can that one, seductive glass of red wine really start labour?
Here's the difference between personal experience and science:
Days before my son was born, after a full-term alcohol-free pregnancy, I had a small glass of wine in a (not too warm) bath. For me, it was all about letting go and allowing my body to relax.
But there is no known amount of alcohol that is considered safe during pregnancy. How would that experiment even work, right? So if you're thinking about trying this one out, talk to your primary care giver.
There is nothing quite like meditation in pregnancy
This is a practice that only compounds in value the more you do it.
Carving out quiet time to focus on breathing helps. There are many meditation apps out there too (I’m liking Simple Habit these days; there are tons of great free options available).
Overall, whether we can speed labour along or not, it’s so important to feel aligned on all fronts: physically, mentally and spiritually.