Ways to Induce Labor According to the Old Wives

Have a pregnant character in your novel? What lengths might they go to to put themselves into labor? Would those methods actually work?

I’m pleased to host guest blogger Erin MacPherson today at Redwood’s Medical Edge to discuss those ever popular myths (and some truths) about how to get a woman to go into labor. Erin has a wicked sense of humor so this should not only be informational but give you a chuckle as well. She hosts the equally funny Christian Mama’s Guide.

If you’re interested, I’ve started doing a twice monthly guest post over at Erin’s blog giving “real life” girlfriend to girlfriend advice about pediatric issues. Ever wonder what a pediatric ER nurse thinks about things? This is the place to look. You can find my first post there that discusses if it’s truly a risk taking a less than two-month old out in public. http://www.christianmamasguide.com/2011/08/31/newborns-and-the-er/

Welcome, Erin! I think her non-fiction book would be a great gift for anyone expecting a little one.

Somewhere between 36 and 41 weeks of pregnancy, you might decide to take matters into your own hands and try to induce labor at home. I fully support this. Not because I think it will work—it probably won’t—but because the diversion of trying to induce labor at home will probably keep you from destroying the still-dirty baseboards in your nursery or wasting more gas on another trip to the hospital. Here are the old wives’ best labor-inducing tricks:

1.        Eating spicy food. The story goes that eating a spicy burrito will get your whole digestive track moving and doing the Macarena, and your cervix will want to join the fun. The only effect I ever felt from eating spicy food was heartburn, but it’s worth a try. A little Thai curry never hurt anybody.
2.        Walking. I tried this—a lot—at the end of my first pregnancy. I’d get home from work, grab a snack, lace up my tennies and start roaming the neighborhood. I didn’t want to roam too far from home in case I actually went into labor, so I spent most of the time pacing in front of my house and looking psycho in front of my neighbors. It never did jump-start contractions, but it did soothe my nerves to be outside and get some fresh air.
3.        Sex. The gist of this method—which I’m sure was “discovered” by a man—is that sperm on the cervix can help spur it into dilating. Sounds a bit fishy to me, but my husband thought this sounded like a great idea, so I agreed to give it a try. It did not work out as well as my hubby or I had hoped. Not only did I not go into labor, but it was a bit tricky navigating around a really, really huge pregnant belly. But, you can rest assured, the same “professionals” who suggest this method, also assure you that it will in no way hurt your baby, so if you’re wanting to give it a try, feel free.
4.        Castor oil. Castor oil makes your bowels move. The theory here is that —aside from giving you a really bad case of diarrhea— your moving bowels will somehow trigger a chain-reaction and the rest of your body will start moving as well. I have yet to know anyone that got anything other than diarrhea and some abdominal cramping from taking castor oil, but if you’re a glutton for punishment—and ready to spend the day in the bathroom—then drink up.
5.        Nipple stimulation. I want to go on record as telling you not to try this one at home. I have a girlfriend whose doctor assisted her with nipple stimulation using a breast pump in the doctor’s office with access to medical help, but most doctors don’t recommend this method at all. Why? Because it actually works. Something about how nipple stimulation mimics a baby’s suckling and causes your body to start contracting. The problem is that the contractions are often super-close together and super-unproductive, so it can pose a danger to you and your baby. So, if you absolutely must try this, I suggest that you talk to your doctor or midwife very candidly about it first and stay close to the hospital (say, in the parking lot) when you actually do it.
6.        Acupressure. Tell your hubby you want a foot rub—he groans and moans. Tell your hubby you need him to perform some acupressure to induce labor and suddenly he puts on his superhero glasses and gets focused on the task at hand. The general idea here is that by putting pressure on certain pressure points around your body, you can stimulate your uterus into contracting. Look up the pressure points online and ask your doctor if you’re at all nervous. At the very least, you’ll get a nice foot rub.
7.      Raspberry leaf tea. Raspberry leaf is on the pregnancy no-no list because it has a tendency to produce contractions. But if producing contractions is your aim, raspberry leaf tea can move off of the ix-nay list and onto the A-OK list. My doctor said it was safe after thirty-eight weeks, but before you go making yourself a big pitcher of raspberry iced tea, you might want to call your doctor just to be uber-certain that it’s okay. It’s always better safe than sorry.
8.      Begging and pleading with God for mercy. I guarantee that God will eventually hear your pleas and put you out of your misery.
QUESTION: What did you (or WOULD you) do to induce labor? Have you written a scene with a pregnant woman in labor?
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