It's the end of the summer and the beginning of the holiday season. It's Labor Day. I'll bet those of you due in August or September and still pregnant are saying, "Bring it on, baby. Let's get this party started." Here's the problem, though. Labor Day's a holiday (a national tribute to all of us worker-bees out here who keep the world running) and very few hospitals are going to schedule non-medically indicated inductions on a holiday. That means you're going to have to go into labor on your own if you're going to make Labor Day your baby's birthday. Good luck, Ladies. I know there are countless tried-and-true, no-fail, absolutely guaranteed methods for getting labor started naturally because women have told me so. "I ate Mexican food at so-and-so restaurant and sat in the same chair every night for a week and then went into labor." Makes you wonder, was there something special about that chair?
Here are some of the best "guaranteed" labor-starters I've heard.
Pizza, arugula salad, jalapeno peppers, and Indian food. You have to eat this stuff. Don't apply them or stick them anywhere other than your mouth. How does it work? There's no real science that says eating spicy foods will do the job but women swear by it. When you eat enough of any spicy food, it affects your intestines and makes you poop (you're going to need diarrhea to reach the desired effect), which, in turn, makes the smooth muscles in your gut contract, including your uterus. So, theoretically speaking—eating spicy foods might get labor started.
Have a lot of sex. One woman told me she had a system for getting her labors started. It involved a very intricate series of techniques and positions she managed to get her hugely pregnant self (and her husband) into and sure enough—she eventually went into labor. I know what some of you are thinking—fuggetaboutit. Seriously, though, having sex might work. Semen contains natural cervical ripening agents (prostaglandins) that frequently do the job by getting the cervix, "in the mood" for labor. Orgasms are essentially contractions so maybe, if you have one, that might pull the trigger too. If nothing else, it'll be something to do while you wait it out.
Walking, walking and more walking. I've been told that long walks on a full moon are "just the thing" to get the ball rolling. Sounds romantic, right? Maybe it will lead to having sex and along with the walking, that's a one-two punch that might put you into labor. Walking is sometimes effective for starting labor because it helps rotate your baby into an optimal birthing position. The baby's head might put pressure on the cervix and generate enough cervical irritation to start the labor-marathon.
Castor Oil—it works once in a while, Ladies, but not every time and it's gross. It's also not medically recommended. After you chug some of this, your belly's full of oil, you get nauseated, it gives you the runs and working on the same theory as spicy food, will eventually irritate your gut enough to cause uterine contractions. I'll bet if you drink it while walking and eating jalapenos in the moonlight, you'll definitely, definitely, have that baby—or not. Here's a labor nurse's inside tip: It makes for a nasty labor accompanied by oily diarrhea and vomiting. Not pretty, not pleasant and if it works at all, sometimes makes things worse than they already would be in labor.
The list of "guaranteed" labor-starters is long and if you're catching my drift, not reliable. Nobody knows exactly what the magic bullet is or why labors start when they do. It's some combination of anatomy, physiology, chemistry, numerology, astrology, magic and excellent kitchen skills. In other words—labor starts when it's supposed to most of the time. When it doesn't, there's pitocin. I recommend saving pitocin for when you really need it like in certain medical situations or when that baby's going on a couple of weeks over due and you've already eaten as much spicy food and had as much spicy sex as you can stand.
In the meantime, take a few of those romantic moonlit walks and employ the best parenting tool you'll ever use—patience. You're going to need it. Happy Labor Day to all you fellow worker-bees.
Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be answered in a future blog post.
This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical