What I Have Done to “Prep” my Body for Labor

Lauren D., Brie F., Katrina V., Janelle P. & Laura W.

Congrats to the 5 winners! Coffee or Tea is on me, ladies šŸ˜‰

Before I delve into my semi-crazy routine of uterotonics and prostaglandins, please be advised that I have discussed everything below with my midwife and would not do something without discussing it with her first. She is my care provider and knows what is best for me and my baby. These are just some of the natural things I have opted to do. What has worked for me may not work for you. I’m not an expert on any of the things I have tried.

Before trying/starting ANY of these methods – Speak to your care provider.

Let me start this post by saying my own mother did not have a vaginal delivery with me. From her recounting the events, she labored for a very long time and I wasn’t coming out and they had to do a c-section. She then opted to have a scheduled section with my younger sister. *Nothing wrong with any of that at all, just not what I am hoping for with my own labor and delivery*

You know how people love to give advice to pregnant women? Its like you put a belly on a woman and then that suddenly means its okay to tell you all about the horrific birth stories their friends-second-cousins-daughter had and tell you what you should and shouldn’t do because they know better than your own doctor or midwife?

A common question I have been asked throughout my pregnancy is: “How was your mother’s labor with you? They often go the same way.” Now, I am sure there is some truth to this. But it is also important to remember that my mothers pregnancy and labor is my mothers, not mine. My body is different from my mothers. My pregnancy is different. My care provider is different. And my labor and delivery will hopefully be different.

Regardless, of any of this, I knew I wanted to give my body the optimal chance of delivering vaginally, so after lots of discussions with my midwife here are the things I have added to my lifestyle to encourage my body as best as I can.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – This tea is thought to be a uterotonic, which means it helps to strengthen the uterus muscle and make contractions more efficient. I drink 1 cup a day in the mornings. David’s Tea makes a DELICIOUS blend called Mighty Aphrodite. I ran out and bought some organic stuff from Nutters and it is not nearly as good as the David’s Tea kind, so I kind of have to chug it back or it makes me gag haha. Do I think it works? Yes. I have had little braxton hick contractions when I drink the tea. I started drinking it at 36 weeks.

Dates – Dates are also thought to be a uterotonic as well. There are studies that show that eating 6-10 dates per day (starting at 36 weeks) can decrease labor time, shorten the third stage of labor (when you deliver the placenta) and can also help make your contractions more effective. Now, 6-10 is A LOT of dates. And because I have cavities right now (boo) they kind of hurt my teeth. So I maybe get in 3-4 a day. Even if it doesn’t do anything to help my labor, at least I am getting loads of fibre haha.

Evening Primrose Oil *TMI alert* Evening Primrose Oil is a natural Prostaglandin. Prostaglandins are a hormone-like lipid substance that is produced by the body to help with certain bodily functions. In the case of labor/delivery, Prostaglandins work over time to help the cervix “ripen,” meaning to thin, soften, and dilate. Prostaglandins are also found in semen (I’m sure you’ve all heard that sex can jump start labor, and this is one of the reasons why!). At 36 weeks, my midwife gave me the go ahead to start taking 1 capsule orally in the morning and inserting 1 capsule vaginally at bedtime. The thought behind this, is that it is closer to your cervix and therefore has a better absorption directly at the place you want it to go.

Chiropractic Care – I love my chiropractors. Seriously. As someone who has had super bad back pain in the past, I have glided through this pregnancy with only one minor flare up around 32 weeks. This was quickly fixed by about 3-4 adjustments and I have been fine since. I see my Chiropractor weekly now until I deliver. He helps make sure my spine and pelvis are aligned to ensure the best possible route for baby to come out. Last time I went he also did the Webster Technique, which focuses on relieving the tightness in the round ligaments, helping baby to move down more freely into the pelvis. This can also help promote a breech baby to turn so their head is down, but it won’t do the opposite and make your baby breech (because the head is the heaviest part of the baby and gravity pulls it down)!

Acupuncture – I started doing acupuncture at 38 weeks and 4 days. My acupuncturist inserts maybe like 6-7 needles total? I get one in my hand, one on my foot, one on the inner part of my calf (which is an area that when stimulated by acupuncture is proven to help the body create more prostaglandins), and then some in my lower back. Again, acupuncture works over a few treatments, so if you get one treatment and you go into labor that night then your body was obviously ready and you probably would have gone into labor anyways. The first time I had it done the only thing I felt was lots of shifting movements from the baby. No cramping. I had my second appointment at 39 weeks and 1 day and I definitely noticed a difference this time around vs my last appointment. More cramping during and after it was over. We shall see if it leads to anything šŸ˜‰ If not, I have another appointment booked for Wednesday (39 weeks and 6 days).

Hand Expressing Breast Milk *Another TMI Alert* At 38 weeks I was given the go-ahead to hand express or pump breast milk. As I don’t have a pump (yet), and I know how to hand express from work, I thought I would hand express every few days, and save the colostrum in syringes (labelled with my name, date, and time) in the freezer. That way, when I go into labor, I can bring along the Expressed Breast Milk (EBM) and they can store it in the Breast Milk Fridge in the Hospital. If unforseen circumstances happen and I have to have a c-section, when Matthias and the baby get back to the unit and I am still in the Recovery Room, if the baby’s blood sugar is low they can feed it the EBM from the syringes instead of Formula. I have nothing against formula, and I totally get that people need to use this sometimes as their only option to feed the baby, but if my milk is available I’d rather use that at first Especially since colostrum is so full of antibodies and nutrients and good stuff for the baby’s gut lining and immune system. Hand expression and Pumping are a form of nipple stimulation, which has been shown to produce more oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is what stimulates the uterus to contract in labor.

So that’s my routine! All of the things I have listed above don’t actually START labor if my body isn’t ready. But they can help get my body as ready as possible for when the baby decides its time to come out. And anything that can help decrease my risk of a lengthy labor leading to a c-section is a-okay in my books, even if it just a placebo effect! :)

4 thoughts on “What I Have Done to “Prep” my Body for Labor

  1. Man, no one ever told me that my labor would be the same as my mother’s. Definitely not the case. Mom had complications but still delivered vaginally and I had to have a section. I did most of these things as well although dates I didn’t know about. They definitely don’t start labor because I started this stuff well before Liam decided to come out. Ha.

    I just can’t wait for your little lady to come!!

  2. I had a planned c-section (due to health reasons), so I didn’t do anything to prepare, as I did NOT want to go into early labour lol. BUT, my baby came with me to the recovery room and I was able to initiate breastfeeding right away. Hopefully you won’t need those syringes of colustrum! :)

    • That’s awesome they were able to keep baby with you in Recovery :) They don’t do that here, but our unit is going to be expanding and creating 2 OR’s and a recovery room adjacent to where we are (the current OR is on the main floor and we are on the second) so we will be able to keep moms and babys together once that is up and running!

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