birth story,  motherhood,  pregnancy

Natural labor-inducing tricks (for when you’re done being pregnant)

(alternate title: time-killing end of pregnancy activities/ways to waste $$$)

This is a dangerous post to write, isn’t it? I’m 38 weeks tomorrow and have been having all kinds of fabulous lower back pressure and non productive contractions and tonight is not only a full moon but it’s a BLUE MOON. So as Katniss would have it, the odds are in my favor. Also things got so serious with bathroom scouring and floor mopping and whole-house decluttering last night that I went and packed that hospital bag right up, yes I did, because that surge of nesting energy was a force of nature, and I thought it might be prudent to have an emergency preparedness kit laid out.


Though, happily for me and every member of this family, I did sleep through the night for the first time in weeks, so today I feel, if still pregnant, at least well rested. And beginning tomorrow, I’m ready to take the self induction game to the next level.

All three of my previous labors have started with similar methods to what I’ll share here, and yes, I know baby has to come out eventually and yes, it’s probably coincidental and completely anecdotal and in no way scientific, but whatever, I know what other preggos are googling at 3 am, and I just want to offer them a glimmer of hope. Even the false kind.

1. Red raspberry leaf tea. My general rule of thumb is to start upping the ante around week 35 with regular and healthy consumption of red raspberry leaf tea. I drink 2-3 cups of it a day starting then, up until d-day. It’s not that bad tasting, and after a few sweaty incidents I’ve started pouring it over ice this time around. If nothing else I’m super well hydrated, but I have noticed that with the pregnancies I’ve used it for, the pushing stage has been shortened so maybe it really does have magical uterine-toning properties? Or not. But it’s pretty cheap (I like this brand at Vitamin Cottage) and it can’t hurt.

2. Walking. I try to up my mileage around the same time I start drinking the tea. Yes, I feel like hell after a 3 mile walk, even in an air-conditioned gym going only 2.3 mph. But labor is a major athletic event no matter how you slice it (or don’t slice it), and I figure I need more activity as it draws near, not less. Plus it’s fun to scare people at the gym. And childcare. And cable tv. Need I go on?

3. Good chiropractic care. I’ve been seeing a NUCCA practitioner for this entire pregnancy and I’m so hopeful that perhaps this time I’ll avoid the dreaded posterior presentation of bebe (read: no back labor, please God.) Word on the street is that good alignment of mom’s spine and pelvis and muscles mean an easier and more efficient exit for junior. I’ll keep you posted.

4. Pedicures. This is my guiltiest of third trimester pleasures, and I know it may not be in everyone’s budget, but with the money I’m saving from not cooking dinner and warming hot dogs in the microwave there’s a little left over to go every other week or so towards the end. It’s also where I allocate my monthly “blow” $$ from our budget once I hit month 8 or so, because I’m telling you, nothing in this world feels better than having your swollen, calloused feet massaged and pampered and painted while reading terrible magazines and getting a mediocre back rub from a machinated chair. Nothing. (Plus, with my firstborn labor started in a nail salon. With a splash. So call me superstitious. Or nostalgic.)

5. Exercise ball bouncing/sitting. This has helped to keep real contractions going once they start up, and even if nothing is happening, it’s good for opening up the pelvis/ getting baby into a good position/feeling “productive” while you’re trolling Facebook.

6. Spicy food. Just kidding, this one is a total lie. I eat like 4 caspacian units worth of heat with every single pregnant meal for 10 solid months and it does nothing. Maybe a little heartburn.

7. Dates and pineapple. Another way to feel productive while doing nothing more taxing than putting food in your mouth and blah blah blah, something about cervix-ripening prostaglandin. (And there are, ahem, other natural sources for those too. Which you are undoubtably well aware of if you’ve found yourself in a delicate condition.) I did, however, eat a pineapple ice cream sunday immediately after getting a massage and walking 3 miles at the gym the night I went into labor with JP. Boom, science.

8. Accupressure/reflexology/massage. This one is the nuclear option, at least in my labor playbook. All three kids have been born within 24 hours (or less!) of me having my feet and ankles (pressure points, baby) massaged and manipulated by a trained reflexologist. Lots of fancy schmancy massage places have reflexologists on staff, and some nicer nail salons may have highly trained pedicurists who can produce similar results, but for me I’ve always had the best of luck with my girl Ying, a Chinese reflexologist and massage therapist (and, incidentally, also a licensed nurse, though not in the US). She is extremely solicitous for my care and comfort throughout pregnancy (I usually see her every 6-8 weeks until the end) and then once we hit week 38, it’s go time. And so far? It has worked every time. I’m talking real, regular contractions within the span of a couple hours, sometimes even when I’m just leaving her storefront. At $40 for a 60 minute session it’s affordable too, considering the price of a medical induction (or, you know, continuing to be pregnant another 3+ weeks and spending hundreds of dollars on Chicfila and throw pillows. Ahem.) I know massage isn’t everyone’s thing, but let me tell you, when you are pushing 200 lbs and your skin is stretched tighter than last year’s pair of Spanx, you will not mind someone touching your feet/legs/back/neck/shoulders. You will revel in it. Here’s Ying’s info for my local girls. But I’d bet my latte money that almost any part of the country features an Asian foot massage establishment. Just, you know, do your Yelp homework and be sure you don’t end up at that kind of massage place.

9. Schedule something really, really fun that you actually want to do. Baby will come 12 hours prior. Guarantee. Dave Matthews is coming to Denver the week after my due date. Coincidence? I think not…

Happy laboring, ladies. Here’s hoping that tonight’s full (BLUE!) moon fills birthing centers and labor wings the world over.

(Oh, and if all of the above fail and you’re still in a delicate condition and feeling down about it? Grab a glass of good red wine and hop in the bathtub. Love, every LDR nurse I’ve ever consulted.*)


*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet. But if you email me asking about conservative consumption of alcohol or foot massages during pregnancy, I will still persist in giving you my honest opinion.)


  • Joanne @ Our ABC Life

    When I was desperate to get baby #3 to come without having to get induced (sidenote – first two labor started naturally and come on, don’t babies just fall out after 2????) I tried the following:

    1. Walking 6.5 miles
    2. Drinking a huge can of pineapple juice
    3. Trying the breast pump to make sure it still worked… (ehem for at least an hour)

    the day before I was 41 weeks and scheduled to be induced and you know what? I still had to be induced! I couldn’t BELIEVE IT. I mean 6 miles!

    Now with this impending L&D I’m actually more nervous than I was the first time because getting induced was so scheduled. So uneventful. Not madly dashing around the house to the hospital or trying to get kids picked up from school. Now I’m kinda freaking out about actually going into labor : (

    Also, Dave Matthews… totally cool. I haven’t been to one of his shows in YEARS but I wished I could have gone when he was in NC this summer!

  • AthenaC

    For my third, I went on long, brisk walks every evening beginning at 39 weeks. I could get the contractions started but I couldn’t get them going. My stubborn little guy finally decided to show up at 40 weeks and 1 day after a labor twice as long as for either of his sisters, both of whom had the courtesy to arrive 5 days and 1 day (respectively) before their due date. He was also my one epidural labor.

    Good luck! It has always helped me to think to myself that it will be over at some point. Not now, but at some point.

  • Selina

    You forgot my favorite one. The Castor Oil cocktail. I was 10 days past my due date and I did all of the above, I had to go to the last resort. I love posts like these. They are the best source of mental birth control. I just go back to when I was 10 days late in the heat of Texas.

  • Angelie

    I just had my first 6 days ago. He was 9 days late, and I was really getting burnt out. I didn’t want to do caster oil, but I bought some and was going to take it the next day and, luckily, I went into labor that night.
    It’s too bad you didn’t post this a few days sooner, I might have convinced my husband to take me to get a pedicure!

  • Meagan Daoust

    Whelp as of yesterday all five of mine have ben 5+ days late. Tried. It. All. I think I need to accept that my oven is just set to a lower temp than some and I cook them long, low, but they are tender and juicy when they come out! Side note, did you pick up Always brand bladder control underwear. I got them on a whim Thursday night, oh my, they are fabulous!

  • Lisa

    A really, really stressful situation helped me out! I tried:

    1. Long walks
    2. Pineapple
    3. Peanut M & M’s

    None of them worked! But I went into a high stress Board meeting for work and went RIGHT into labor! So anything that elevates your heart rate significantly could do the trip?

    Either way, praying for you! Exciting times!

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