Natural Ways to Induce Labor

Pregnancy, ah, bliss! How exciting to hold life in my womb! How empowering to feel movement within myself that I have created! Each subsequent month on the ten lunar month calendar shows a larger belly with stronger and more defined “hello’s” from inside. The end is drawing near, our due date is close, my anticipation is unmatched. Due date arrives! People on the streets and in the stores notice my swollen life-holder and ask nervously when I’m due. I grin excitedly and reply, “Today! I’m due today! Baby will be coming very soon!” The next day I am still pregnant. I am fine, I am content. Baby will come when Baby is ready.

Two weeks later I am not fine. My excitement has petered out with the sleepless nights; nights that do not allow for simple rolling from one side to the other anymore. No, it was not enough for a hip to just fall asleep, waking me from an already light slumber, asking me to kindly roll to the other side and give said hip a chance to breathe. Now hips are asking me to first crawl on hands and knees to roll over instead of using the original convenient side-back-side method. Bladder is asking for relief, and sciatica is begging for me to hold still. Whom do I obey? Bladder always gets first dibs, although I cannot deny the temptation has held strong to make good use of the waterproof mattress protector that has been in place since 36 weeks six long weeks ago.

Baby’s mind is made up, Baby is clearly happy in my womb, my place of shelter. I have done too good of a job making Baby feel secure and loved. It is all up to me now. Nature had its chance and failed. Therefore, I read up on natural inducers. The usual offenders included Castor oil, blue and/or black cohosh, sex, nipple-stimulation, masturbation, and genuine licorice. I debated these. Nothing I had ever read about Castor oil from Anne of Green Gables made it sound remotely delicious. The cohosh had some negative side effects that I was unwilling to risk. Masturbation was clearly out of the question, as physically reaching the correct components would require a full-blown act of the Ringling Brothers. That left nipple-stimulation, sex, and licorice. I confess I tried the licorice first; it seemed the least humiliating option. Fortunately, I am fan of real black licorice, and the first box went down fairly easy. With the second box, I made myself comfortable in the Jacuzzi, got a good book, and dove in. It was not long before I was frantically scrambling to find a way out of the slippery tub, looking for leverage anywhere I could find, if only I could just get out and get to the toilet! Would I make it? I made it, and when labor did not follow the half-an-hour spent sitting over a gaping hole of licorice remains, I checked that option off the list. The next selection was nipple-stimulation. I had a hand-held breast pump I had received as a baby shower gift. I opted to avoid the death-trap Jacuzzi and made do with the couch for this experiment. Banishing my husband to another room, I attached the pump and gave it a tentative squeeze. Now, let me explain, Dear Readers, if you are not familiar with the sensation of a breast pump’s suckling, that on an untrained nipple, this is not a particularly enjoyable sensation. I did try though and I gave it a good shot poor choice of words. I gave it approximately five pumps per nipple before the tears began, and my resolve wavered. I checked off that option and turned to my husband for the third inducer on the list, the Big Favor. He hesitated, as any man would faced with a wife who had put on 40 rapid pounds and an undisclosed amount of cellulite, not to mention had a child living inside her womb. But in the end he was game, and it was only when I started crying out of the sheer shame of wobbly-parts that were not cooperating that he stopped, and sex was crossed off the list too.

Then there was the Castor oil. Yes, it was time. Two more days had crept by, agonizing, distressful days of non-productivity. I read several forums on the best way to drink the Castor oil, and decided on root-beer. With a heaviness in my heart that had nothing to do with my new, massive bra size, I bought a little 2-ounce bottle of Hell-on- Earth. My brave husband put on his “you can do it!” face, and sat next to me the whole time as I mixed, sip by sip, a teaspoon of Castor oil with a chug of root-beer and swallowed. The bottle was soon gone, and we waited. Another day we waited, and when it was clear that 2 ounces was not enough, I repeated the whole grim process. Another day went by, and I eventually had to check Castor oil off the list as well. A new sense of desperation was calling to me, I wanted badly to avoid the hospital scene, but was rapidly running out of ideas. From some source came a new idea, olive oil. Dear Reader, you must understand my mental state at this point. I was beginning to envision the rest of my life in this condition, stranded forever, “The Woman Who Remained Pregnant Until She Died At Age 99”, the headlines would read. Here was an untried inducer, and I needed to try it. I poured out a cup of olive oil even now I can taste it and put it to my lips. “Maybe it will taste like whiskey” I thought, tipping the cup. My throat immediately clogged; olive oil, as it turns out, tastes exactly like you would think that it would. I made it to the sink just in time to unclog my throat. When I had composed myself, I debated this new situation. I was unwilling to cross it off the list when I had not given it a fair chance. I pulled out a container of ice cream while I pondered. Then it came to me! I mixed the oil with the ice cream, and while I will never again appreciate Moose Track ice cream in the same sense that I did before, I am happy to report that I was able to ingest a half of a cup of olive oil. I waited.

Whether the olive oil was the trigger, or Baby finally got tired of the strange new diet Mom was supplying, I will never know. But that night my waterproof mattress pad got some serious amniotic action.