Nausea, headaches, fatigue and hormone fluctuations. With these side effects, it’s no wonder pregnant women may think about ways to bring baby into the world as soon as safely possible.
There are a lot of myths out there about ways to jumpstart labor, so Hannah Hancock, RN, a Labor and Delivery nurse at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, helped sort through what to try and, just as importantly, what to avoid.
It's important to remember to always talk to your doctor before trying any of these ideas to avoid potential risk to yourself or your baby.
DO: Drink red raspberry leaf tea Hancock said you may have heard this drink triggers contractions, but she recommended using it instead as a way to strengthen the uterine muscles and prepare them for labor.
Red raspberry leaves contain fragarine, a plant compound that helps strengthen the uterine walls, which can help make contractions stronger and more effective when they occur.
“Think of this as a pre-workout for your uterus,” Hancock said. “When muscles are strong, they're ready to perform and prepared when it’s go-time.”
DON'T: Drink castor oil This multipurpose vegetable oil will dehydrate you and lead to cramping and diarrhea, Hancock warned.
DO: Get intimate (if cleared by your doctor) Sperm contains prostaglandin, a hormone that helps soften the cervix and prepare it for labor. However, sex should be avoided after your water breaks, as it could lead to an infection that could harm your baby.
“After your water breaks, the barrier (amniotic sac) protecting the baby is now gone and any bacteria that is introduced into the vagina can travel to the baby,” Hancock said.
DO: Exercise Moderate activity while pregnant helps prepare your body for the physical demands of labor, Hancock said. Curb walking – putting one foot up on the curb while the other is down and then alternating – can help keep your pelvis open and move the baby toward your cervix.
DON'T: Bounce on a birthing ball Try doing figure-eights with your hips to open them up instead, Hancock recommended. Otherwise, you’re probably just making your baby a little uncomfortable!
DO: Try nipple stimulation During natural labor, some patients find this could help start contractions, Hancock said.
The number one takeaway from all of this?
“Remember to be patient – your baby will come exactly when he or she is ready!” Hancock said. “We’re committed to the safety and health of you and your baby. Focus on preparing your body for labor, not jumpstarting it.”
Having a baby is life-changing, and Baptist Health is here for you every step of the way. To learn more about Labor and Delivery services, visit baptistjax.com/baby.