*This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission from any purchases made from clicking on a link in this post. Please see my full disclosure here.
First things first, I have absolutely no idea if the steps I took actually had any role in my labor starting at exactly 40 weeks. However, I knew if I wanted my good friend to be an active part of my birth as my doula, I had a set window in which to deliver. We live in different states, and she flew in for one week in hopes to be a part of my birth.
As you read, keep in mind my birth may have happened on my due date even if we didn’t partake in the steps I mention below. However, I firmly believe we aided the process some.
I believe this because the average first time pregnancy actually lasts 40.5 weeks to 41 weeks. Delivering on or before your due date is almost unheard of the first time around.
Natural Steps I Took to Go Into Labor
I Walked and Walked and Walked….
and walked and walked.
I gave birth on my due date. My due date fell on a Thursday, and my first contraction occurred at 12:15am. Ten hours later my daughter was born at 10:07am.
My good friend and doula, Devin, arrived into town Monday evening. On Tuesday we woke up and began walking.
We walked my dog probably three times that day. We visited my old college campus and I gave her a walking tour. The weather turning stormy is the only reason we stopped.
Then on Wednesday we did the same thing. We woke up and began walking. We walked a popular trail in one of my favorite parks in Nashville.
Both days we walked a minimum of 20,000 steps! I was nine months pregnant, and huge!
We had plans on Wednesday to continue walking, but my cramps were coming on strong. We decided it best to slow it down.
I Drank Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
I write about Raspberry Leaf Tea in several of my posts. It literally is woman’s best friend. I drink a cup of Raspberry Leaf Tea daily. I’m not a health professional, but I recommend Red Raspberry Tea for every woman!
See my post: How to Survive Postpartum Recovery
- Increased fertility
- Boosts immune system
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory
- Shortens labor
- Balances hormones
- Tightens and tones uterus
…and the list goes on. There is controversy whether or not the tea actually stimulates labor. Some herbalists and midwives swear it does, while others say its effectiveness only kicks in once labors has started. Either way I drank it and delivered on my due date.
However, this study suggests consuming Raspberry Leaf Tea may “decrease the likelihood of pre and post-term gestation.” It also indicates women who drink Raspberry Leaf Tea throughout pregnancy do experience shortened labors, and are less likely to have babies delivered by forceps or by vacuum, require a c-section, or have their membranes artificially ruptured.
I started drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea at the end of my pregnancy. However, some sources state it’s safe to begin drinking at the beginning of the second trimester (with anything new or medicinal talk with your doctor or midwife before you begin).
Fragrine, a potent alkaloid, in Raspberry Leaf Tea strengthens and tones the uterine wall. This tightening and toning helps to alleviate pain during childbirth.
I drank three cups a day during the week leading up to my due date, and after birth I continued to drink it to aid in recovery.
Once again, I am not a health care professional, but I say even if Raspberry Leaf Tea doesn’t stimulate labor, evidence does suggest it shortens labor, so drink it for that!
I Got it On
Any woman who has experienced being nine months pregnant knows how uncomfortable it is. Even though you may want to have sex, towards the end it can be a real challenge when you have a bump the literal size of beach ball.
However, push your discomfort aside those last few weeks and get down and dirty any way you can.
Sex possesses the power to induce labor in a couple ways. First, semen contains prostaglandins. Prostaglandins soften your cervix and prepares it for labor. Cervix softening is what your doctor or midwife mean when the say effacement or effaced.
If you are familiar with clams, think of the part of the clam (known as the foot) that sticks out of the shell as your cervix. Anyone who has dug for clams knows the clam will shorten that foot and bring it back inside the shell if you touch it. Your cervix does the same thing. It begins to shorten and open as it prepares for childbirth. This is known as effacement. 100% effaced means your cervix has shortened as much as it can for labor.
If that analogy was completely lost on you, think of a turtle neck sweater. Picture your cervix as the neck of the sweater. Think of scrunching up the neck as the process of your cervix ripening or effacing.
Second, when you orgasm your body produces oxytocin (the love hormone and the hormone that causes your uterus to contract). Oxytocin is the hormone that will be surging through you throughout labor.
Pitocin, the synthetic form of oxytocin, is given to women to help induce labor, so why not get the real deal from a more pleasurable source?
Also, keep in mind you will not be engaging in sex from anywhere to six weeks to months after the baby is born.
(Side note: don’t attach yourself to the six-week timeline. If you’re not feeling normal again after six weeks, it is okay. That timeline has nothing to do with science and the healing of a woman’s body, but has everything to do with insurance. It took about nine weeks for me to feel like things would be normal again.)
You may also like: 11 Breastfeeding Hacks to Make Life Easier as a New Mom
And I delivered on my due date!
In addition to these three things, I also sat on an exercise ball as much as possible. Sitting on an exercise ball while pregnant has several benefits. First, it helps to reduce back pain. I switched to an exercise ball at my desk during my third trimester and it helped alleviate my lower back pain so fast!
Second, sitting on an exercise ball can help your baby turn and get in the best possible position for labor. Once your baby is in the correct position your labor is more likely to begin.
When deciding what size exercise to purchase, I recommend one that is at least 45cm. You want her hips to be higher than your knees while sitting.
I, also, mentally convinced myself I was ready for birth by focusing my intentions and calming any anxiety I had through my hypnobirth program Hypnobabies (<- I highly suggest every pregnant woman look into Hypnobabies. My birth would not have been the same without it). I told myself over and over, I was ready for birth, I welcomed birth. Read my post How Hypnobabies Worked for Me to learn more about the program.
Like I mentioned before, maybe I would have delivered on my due date either way, but I wanted to give myself the best possible chance to deliver with the help of my friend.
You may also like: My Natural, Non-Medicated Birth
What are some methods you utilized to induce labor? Were they effective?