What to Do When You're Overdue
But it's only supposed to last 40 weeks!
Hurry Up Baby, the Doctor’s Waiting!
Besides the emotional distress of waiting for baby to yawn, glance at its wristwatch, and decide it’s time to saunter into its lifetime, you’ve also got another pressure on you (and I’m not talking about that huge head bumping against your bladder): the medical establishment. Most OBs allow you two weeks (a mere 14 days!) past due date before they flip out and schedule a labor induction, that is, chemically induce labor through the use of a drug called Pitocin®. Even before they go that far, the woman past her due date will probably be subject to non-stress tests, careful perusal of kick-count charts, and more and more weighing and measuring.
Is All This Really Necessary?
Do you detect a note of cynicism in my voice? Good reading! Sure, there are sometimes medical reasons for all these tests and intervention, but much of it is simply based on endless charts of medical averages about how long babies take to get ripe. My own grandmother carried three of her babies for ten months. That’s just how she had babies—she’s not alone on the planet. While you may not feel as though you have a lot of say in whether or not your labor will be induced—after all, you don’t want to risk the health of your baby—it’s a gentle reminder that you need to question your doctors about all procedures they prescribe.
But… Back to the Waiting
Under the internal and external pressures to have a baby NOW, it’s no wonder you—like many parents-to-be—want solutions you can do at home to get baby in gear and get little him or her OUT of there, and into your waiting arms.
Ready to have your baby, but baby isn’t cooperating? You might consider exploring the following options. (Beware: Not all of these are medically proven or even recommended. For some people, they might even be dangerous. Before trying them out, please, please call your medical practitioner!)
Nipple stimulation, by finger, or tongue, when done for an hour at a time three times a day, can help start contractions. This may seem like a simple solution, and it can be. Be aware though, that nipple stimulation can generate overly strong contractions leading to a quick and potentially dangerous labor. It’s not as safe as it seems!
Semen contains prostaglandin, a substance used to help soften the cervix before labor is chemically induced. Therefore, sperm deposited near the cervix might generate a little action. Anyway, it’s a fun way to wile away the hours. Sexual intercourse is safe unless your waters have broken, in which case there’s the risk of infection.
Birth educators sometimes recommend Black and Blue Cohosh, and red raspberry leaf. Remember that herbs are drugs, and never use them without medical permission—just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they aren’t potent and potentially dangerous. If you would like to try this option, consult an expert (perhaps a local midwife).
For the desperate. Try this one only if your induction is scheduled for the immediate future and you really want to try to deliver naturally. The laxative action can be quite unpleasant (take it from one who knows), but the contractions in the bowel might start things next door—at least that’s the theory.
Hike the Appalachian Trail or the Andes
It’s a law of nature—the minute you’re far, far away from the hospital and medical care, then you’ll go into labor. Ah forget it, this method is both risky and desperate!
Time to Get Zen About It
Just remember, fruit ripens and then it falls. Nobody stays pregnant forever. All babies get born, one way or the other. Relax, breathe, it will happen to you…
OK, OK! Stop! Don’t try to stand up … don’t hit me … I’m out of here!!
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