Due Dates and Inductions

Dealing with due date pressure It is very exciting having a baby and when someone tells you your baby will arrive on this date you can’t help but get attached to that date. However as we know the realities of that happening are very slim.

There is often a lot of anxiety created around due dates. It can encourage impatience or a sense of failure to get going. We encourage our mums to have a due month. That way they realise things could happen early or they could go over their expected timeframe.

Birth is nature. Nature will not be tamed by science.

Sweeps

If you reach 40wks or so you may be offered a sweep. It involves a vaginal examination where the midwife will insert a finger gently into your cervix and move it between the top of the cervix and the bag of waters.

The idea is that this action may help to stimulate the cervix to produce the hormones, called prostaglandins, which trigger spontaneous labour.

Sweeps are said to increase the likelihood of labour starting in the next few days and decrease the need for induction but there are no guarantees.

Women don’t have to have them if they don’t want them. It’s your choice depending on how you feel about what’s happening with your pregnancy (happy or not happy to wait) and the thought of induction. We would simply remind women that baby’s come when they are ready and perhaps to consider some natural alternatives if they’d be interested.

Induction (artificially starting labour)

Being overdue is very common, especially with your first baby, so relax and don’t worry.

Only 5 % of babies are born on their due date.

Interestingly, obstetrician Michel Odent says, “any induction, natural or medical, is asking the baby to come out before he or she is ready.”

However, obstetricians like to start a medical induction at around 40 weeks and 10 days. This is because research shows placenta function starts to deteriorate from this point and there is increased risk by day 14. Although as we do not routinely encourage women to go beyond this point, there is limited data on it and some people question the dating process itself.

What to expect from an induction

1. A pessary or gel to ripen/open the cervix that contains the hormone prostaglandins. It is a soluble device that is inserted in the vagina. It can take up to 24hrs to work. Women might choose to have it and then go home to wait for it to work. If you do go home and don’t have any contractions after six hours. If that is the case the mum may be offered another gel.

2. Releasing the waters (ARM, artificial rupture of the membranes). This is when the membranes are intentionally punctured to help start labour.

3. A syntocin drip (artificial oxytocin). This helps to get the womb to contract. It involves a tube being put in the arm using a needle and it gradually releases the oxytocin. With this method continuous electronic monitoring of the baby's heartbeat is needed to make sure the syntocin isn’t putting baby under any undue stress. Syntocinon is often used alongside the manual ‘breaking of the waters.

Natural ways to induce labour

▪ Walking / circling - moving your pelvis to stimulate the baby moving down and connecting with your cervix.

▪ Raspberry Leaf Tea - up to 8 weeks prior to your due date - will strengthen the uterus and can soften the cervix.

▪ Have sex / make love! Semen contains a prostaglandin, which stimulates the cervix. It took oxytocin to make the baby – it takes the same hormone to birth them too.

▪ If things start to happen but not move forward very quickly and you (and your midwife) feel its time to encourage things along, try cuddling your partner and getting a bit intimate. The aim is to stimulate oxytocin to increase, and this happens when nipples are stimulated.

▪ Go quite, dim the lights, be still - let baby know all is well and safe - it’s nature’s way of helping women give birth in safe environments. Relax! ▪ Water / bath / aromatherapy - all aid relaxation and calm.

▪ Eat hot, spicy food. Capsaicin in chilli peppers stimulates endorphins and chilies can stimulate labour.

▪ Acupuncture or reflexology can help, as can homeopathic remedies.

▪ Pulsatilla 6c to progress labour and Caullpphyllum to start it - consult a qualified specialist.

▪ Trust your body and your baby - if in doubt, pop along to the hospital to let them have a listen and check things.

• Acupuncture (consult a qualified professional)

• Cranial osteopathy (consult a qualified professional)

• Reflexology (this may be offered by your midwife or seek a qualified professional)

NOTE: 60% of baby’s are born around day 10, so might be worth encouraging discussion with the midwife on induction for day 11 or 12 instead (4% come on their due date!).

What if labour induction doesn't work?

Don’t worry. If the first option of induction doesn’t work the midwife and obstetrician will check on mum and baby’s wellbeing and you may well be offered the next step in induction.

What affects could induction have on labour?

It is commonly reported that induced labours are more uncomfortable than labours that have started naturally. It is also not uncommon for inductions to lead on to other forms of interventions.

We find that women who come to a regular LushTums Pregnancy Yoga Class, our Preparing for Birth Intensive and uses our Beautiful Birth Resource Centre can stay centred and calm, confident and in tune with their birthing experience, reducing the need of interventions later on in the labour.

Remember, everything has a place and whilst we can do our very best to create a positive birthing mindset for a beautiful and conscious birth there is another being in the picture; your baby. They play huge part in their birth and can have a say in how they come into the world. It is their birth after all.

So, reaching a point where one prepares in every possible way and then consciously lets it all go, welcoming the body to do what it was born to do can help facilitate that beautiful, safe and conscious birth you desire.