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Avoiding The Induction

by: Jessica Bower, IBCLC, Certified Doula

It’s the end of pregnancy and you’ve finally hit your due date! You have your appointment with your midwife or doctor and they might mention the word you’re dreading – Induction. You know from your research, childbirth classes, and friends’ stories that you want to avoid an induction. You know that outcomes are typically better when spontaneous labor occurs compared to a medical induction. But what can you do when you want that baby out but can’t make contractions begin?! We get this question A LOT. This blog post isn’t medical advice or a magical concoction to bring on contractions. We hope you can read here, do some research, and come up with a plan with your care provider to integrate some of these practices if you’d like to “do” something to avoid a medical induction.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea - You've likely heard about this. The effectiveness of the tea is debated, but most everyone agrees that it is a uterine toner. That means it helps to make your uterus stronger. Your uterus is what pushes your baby out - so you want a strong uterus! Ask your care provider about how much tea to drink and when to start drinking in your pregnancy. Most midwives recommend drinking several cups a day by the time you reach 37 weeks. But you'll want to see what plan works best for your body.

Herbs - There are a few herbs in pregnancy that can bring on contractions or encourage labor to begin. Some of the most common herbs are blue or black cohosh or a supplement like 5W. If you want to integrate herbs, you need to talk to a certified herbalist like the one at Lizzie's Herb Shop in Kernersville and/or consult your care provider.

Evening Primrose Oil - This works as a prostaglandin. It can help to thin and soften the cervix. Many providers will recommend to start taking this (either orally or vaginally) beginning around 38/39 weeks. Just ask your care provider what they recommend as far as timing and dosage.

Membrane Sweep - This isn't exactly the most pleasant thing, but if facing a medical induction in a few days, many expectant moms will try it. If your cervix is open at least a little bit, during a vaginal exam around 39/40/41 weeks, some moms will opt to try this. A membrane sweep is when the midwife or doctor reaches with a finger into your vagina and through the cervix. Once through the cervix, they "strip" or "sweep" between your uterus and the bag of waters that your baby is in. This helps to simulate prostaglandins. It may sound invasive and many women feel that it is invasive, but it is less invasive than a medical induction, so it's something to consider if you have an induction date on the calendar. Important side note: If you decide to have your cervix checked at your appointment in the last weeks in pregnancy, ask your care provider if they are going to simply check your cervix or if they are going to do a membrane sweep too. This is a decision that's up to you, but often times clients will tell us that their doctor did a membrane sweep without asking for consent and they just tell them after they are done. You always have a choice here and should know what they plan to do when they check your cervix. It is normal to have light spotting and cramping after a membrane sweep.

Induction Massage - This is one of the least invasive methods of stimulating labor and yet one of the most effective things you can do! Many women will find that their labor starts within 24-48 hours of an induction massage when they get the massage at 40 weeks or later. If you have a massage therapist, you can ask if they specialize in induction massage. Our recommendation for induction massage is Ruth at Touch of Serenity in Greensboro - (336) 327-2915.

Spinning Babies / Miles Circuit - You likely know that we are big fans of Spinning Babies in order to get your baby in an optimal position for labor. If you're not already, you can start now integrating the Spinning Babies Daily Activities into your routine. At your appointments, ask your care provider what position your baby is in and have your midwife or doctor show you what they are feeling so that you can do some Belly Mapping at home so you'll know your baby's position too. If you feel that your baby is in a less than ideal position, ask us what you can do. One of the first things we like to suggest is The Miles Circuit.

Sex - Semen has prostaglandins, so one way to get prostaglandins right at your cervix is to have sex. Some people like to say - the best way to get the baby out of there is by doing the same thing you did to get the baby in there!

Food - You'll hear some people swear by certain foods that triggered labor. Spicy food can put some extra activity into your digestive track which could possibly stimulate contractions.

Walking - We always love walking and sometimes couples get tired of being pregnant and will go on a long walk and that might lead to some contractions. Walking is always good and should be part of your daily routine. At the same time, don't walk a marathon trying to get your baby out - we wouldn't want you exhausted before your labor begins!

A final word about induction - Sometimes it needs to happen. Both doulas in Growing Families Lactation & Doula have had inductions due to medical necessity! We share these examples because we want you to know that we are not against induction at all and we can walk through labor with you {even if it's an induction} on a personal and professional level. Often times it's best for mother, baby, or both for the baby to come out. But we also know that labor is ofter smoother and the chances of a cesarean are lower when labor begins on its own. If you do need to be induced, we will be with you every step of the way. If you can avoid an induction, then that's great! Every situation is unique. So take these tips, integrate what you can, and try to savor the last bit of pregnancy in those final days before your baby is born.

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