“Once my due date came and went, I was so uncomfortable,” says Trudi Davis, now pregnant with her second child. “I was willing to try anything to get things moving.”
After completing a full term and continuing to bear pain and discomfort past their due date (wasn’t the baby listening to the doctor’s schedule?), women have come up with a variety of unique techniques for inducing their own labor. While none of these are scientifically proven, enough anecdotal evidence keeps overdue moms-to-be buzzing about and willing to try them.
There are two points on pregnant women’s bodies that acupressurists seek out to induce uterine contractions. While this makes them off-limits during the regular term, once the due date passes, many women, including Davis, ask acupressurists to go for it. “The acupressurist stimulated the points,” says Davis, “and I was in labor that night.” Where are these powerful spots? The first is about four finger-widths above the inner anklebone, on the calf, and the other is on the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. To activate the spots, acupressurists will rub (on the calf) or pinch (near the thumb) in a circular motion for thirty to sixty seconds, taking one- to two-minute breaks in between.
Simpler (and less expensive) than going to an Eastern-medicine specialist, just taking regular walks around your due date should encourage the little guy or gal to come out. According to Giving Birth Naturally, it’s one of the most common and natural ways to induce labor at home. Whether it’s outside under the trees, around a city block, or on a treadmill indoors, the gentle movement, according to many happy mothers, will get things moving. And if not? A little exercise will lift your flagging spirits, at the very least.
Not surprisingly, meditation—touted as a cure for just about everything these days—is thought to be another technique for inducing contractions. According to Giving Birth Naturally, meditation—if done properly—helps relax the body enough to make it ready for labor. For meditation to work properly, expecting mothers should sit in a quiet place and let their mind go blank, letting go of tension and stress. Taking the mind away from pregnancy-related problems is said to help prepare the body for contractions. Even if it’s not successful in that regard, this method should relax your impatient brain and tired body for at least a moment or two.
Ever since a ton of women began swearing by eggplant parmesan as a means of inducing labor, mothers-to-be have been on a quest to find other foods that make babies want to come out. While actual scientific evidence supporting the eggplant theory has yet to be discovered, women have been quick to point toward a handful of other foods as their ticket to the hospital. Pineapple? While this tropical fruit is not thought to actually induce labor, it’s believed to stimulate glands in the cervix. And licorice—the real, black kind—is believed to have a similar effect, according to a study published in the American Family Physician. Many women claim that indulging in a particularly spicy meal got their labor moving; others swear by Chinese food.
Cue the rejoicing of all expecting dads now. Similar to pineapples and licorice, semen contains prostaglandins, substances that cause the cervix to soften and prepare to open. While researchers have yet to determine whether there’s actually enough of it in semen to have any real effect, mixing in a little time for lovin’ can definitely distract from the waiting game. An extra side effect? Orgasms produce oxytocin, which also leads to contractions. Looks like this technique is a win-win all around.
Similarly, stimulating the nipples has also been said to release oxytocin. While nipple action is unlikely to have this effect during the nine months leading up to labor, the hormonal changes during late pregnancy help the uterus become more sensitive to oxytocin, making contractions more likely to begin. But will any kind of touching do? According to Birthing Naturally, not exactly. The sensation should mimic the sucking of a baby, which massages the areola; the act can be performed over thin clothing or underneath. The site recommends focusing on one breast at a time for periods of five minutes, with fifteen-minute breaks in between.
Not feeling like getting naked and frisky? Dancing is another couples’ (or solo) activity that some claim is quite effective in pushing Junior out into the world—especially hula and belly dancing, says Giving Birth Naturally, which are said to stimulate the uterus.
Scientifically proven or not, most of these techniques encourage relaxation and distract women from counting down the minutes until their labor begins. “I don’t know if it was the actual acupressure,” says Davis, “or just finally relaxing and feeling fully ready to go.” Either way, they probably won’t hurt—as long as you’re not prone to spicy food–related heartburn, that is.