You've been counting down the days until your due date for months on end. But now that date has come and gone and you're still pregnant. An overdue pregnancy can be very frustrating and uncomfortable. However, going over your due date is extremely common. In fact, seven out of ten babies are born after their due date. If you're still waiting for your baby to make her appearance, then read this and learn what you can do to induce labor and coax her out.
When to Start
Most women go into labor between their 37th week of pregnancy and their 42nd week. Even if your due date was two weeks ago, most health care professionals wait until 42 weeks' gestation before considering a pregnancy overdue. If your or your baby's health seems to be compromised, though, then there will be some extra pressure to have labor induced or have a cesarean section performed before this time. Talk with your doctor or midwife to see if labor induction is the best decision for you.
For healthy moms and babies, some health care providers may offer to let you continue your pregnancy after 42 weeks. However, most will usually suggest medically inducing labor once you hit the magical 4-2.
Problems with Being Overdue
Aside from being very uncomfortable and impatient, there are some issues associated with going past your due date. After 42 weeks, concerns start to rise about possible complications with the baby. Most notably, there is a slightly increased risk of stillbirth (about 1 in 1,000 babies). But evidence suggests that inducing labor can help reduce this risk.
If you're past your due date, there are a few tests that your health care provider will do to monitor the health of your overdue baby. A non-stress test is commonly performed, which will monitor your baby's heart rate. An ultrasound will also let you see that your baby is doing just fine. At home, you can count the number of movements you feel from your baby throughout the day. The more he moves, the better.
Get it Out! How to Induce Labor
There are a few different ways your labor can be medically induced. One common way is to use prostaglandin gel. This gel, which helps to soften your cervix, is applied to the back of your vagina. While the gel alone may be enough to start labor, it can also increase your risk of developing a fever, having diarrhea, cause fetal distress and possibly cause you to hemorrhage after birth.
Something with a bit less risk associated with it is having your water broken. However, to do this, your cervix needs to be dilated a few centimeters. Plus, some women find the procedure, which involves an instrument that resembles a large crochet hook, to be rather uncomfortable. While breaking your water can sometimes be enough to get labor going, other times this procedure needs to be combined with a syntocinon IV.
Syntocinon is a synthetic hormonal drug that is administered through an intravenous and causes your uterus to contract. It is a fairly reliable method of inducing labor. However, the side effects of this technique include an increased chance of needing a cesarean (due to a lack of progression) as well as pain medication; fetal distress; hemorrhaging after birth and the need for continuous monitoring of your baby.
If your health care provider suggests inducing your labor, find out if it is really in your best interest to have your labor induced or if it is just being suggested because it is "standard procedure."
Natural Ways to Induce Labor
If the medical methods of jump starting labor sound a bit off putting, there are a number of home remedies for inducing labor naturally when you are past your due date. But remember: none of these remedies will start labor unless you have already begun to dilate. However, some methods can help you to tone and soften your uterus.
1. Eat spicy foods or pineapple.
2. Go for a walk or march up some stairs. This is thought to bring on labor because of the pressure of the baby's head pressing down on your cervix. At the very least, walking can help get your baby into a better position for labor.
3. Have sex. A favorite for many pregnant women, sex can help by releasing a hormone called oxytocin, which causes the uterus to contract. Additionally, semen contains a substance known as prostaglandins, which will help soften the cervix.
4. Nipple stimulation. For those who find sex just too uncomfortable right now, nipple stimulation may be a better choice. It helps to bring on labor in much the same way sex does, by releasing oxytocin. However, this method may take a bit more effort than sex to start labor.
5. Stretching of the uterine opening membranes. This can be done by your doctor or midwife and has been found to increase the chances of labor starting within 48 hours.
6. Complementary therapies. Acupuncture, massage, teas, herbs and homeopathic remedies can be helpful when it comes to inducing labor. However, make sure you go to a licensed practitioner who has experience treating pregnant women.
One home remedy that is often recommended to pregnant women is castor oil taken either alone or with orange juice. While some women swear by this method, many experts and women who have tried it will strongly advise you against it. Castor oil may or may not bring on labor but it will definitely make you nauseous, cause you to vomit, have diarrhea and suffer severe cramps so just steer clear of this home remedy.
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