A few weeks ago, I decided to create a blog space as a way to share my experiences and all things learned during my first pregnancy, and really, in life in general. Strangely enough as I sit down to write my first official post, it's with the recent knowledge that I have to schedule a labor induction. This was never my plan and to be honest I've allowed myself the past two days to be upset, cry a little, and let it all sink in. That being said, I've now moved on to acceptance and putting my game face on.
Below are some of the things I've embraced and the things I am doing to prepare for my induction in five days.
Cover art credit to Line Severinsen, I'm So Pregnant: An illustrated look at the ups and downs (and everything in between) of pregnancy
You're allowed to be upset
Did I envision a labor that comes on naturally, counting contractions with my husband and driving to the hospital when the time was right? Of course. But shit happens, and I happen to have poorly controlled gestational diabetes with a baby estimated to weigh around 9 lbs already (I'm 38 weeks.) Waiting for natural labor increases the chances of a c-section and could potentially put the baby at higher risk of after birth health issues. I felt horrible that my little one was already so big and immediately blamed myself. I cried, I googled induction stories, and then my mother reminded me that big babies simply run in our family. This little ones head is also measuring big so the reality is GD or not, my chances of a big baby have always been there. There are just things you can't control, but instead of trying to smother all my emotions and sucking it up, I embraced what I was feeling and allowed myself to ride the emotional waves. Don't suppress what you feel, it will always come back and stronger.
Face the situation head on and prepare
After my day or two of "induction pity party," it was time to move past it and focus on how I could make the most of the situation. Yes, I had a few good cries, but staying in the self-pity land won't help me or the baby. Instead, I've started looking into everything I can do to help move the induction along pre-hospital check in day. This reminds me that I am actually lucky in that I have time to prepare, some women go from a doctors appointment straight to the hospital for induction (big props to those mamas, they have to go immediately into game face mode.)
If you have time to mentally and physically prepare before an induction, use it wisely! Get positive, envision a beautiful birth and STOP reading all the negative nancy induction comments and stories out there. The best part, I know I'll be seeing my little one soon.
My current game plan
I've researched and am going to try the following over the next few days to see if I can help move my cervix softening along and maybe even help baby come naturally. After all is said and done/delivered, I plan to write again on how the induction went and if anything seemed to help. I will not be listing out the pros/cons as I have done all my due diligence in coming up with this plan and really I don't want to focus on the negative. Make sure you look into and understand any procedures or methods you want to use.
Pampering myself - giving my body some TLC
I am a spa addict, so these next few days will be spent loving myself up with some good ol'body care. Massage, face masks, pedicure, etc. Whatever will make my body feel relaxed and calm. Sleep, too, is a big one. The better prepared I am mentally, the better for my physical body and the baby. Please note, all of the products I use or facilities I go to are natural and as chemically free as can be. What goes on me, goes into baby.
Exercise and walking - this is a bit of a given
Any induction prep advice you receive will always encourage exercise and walking. I have been using the "Dia Method" for the past few weeks to prepare for labor and will continue to follow the routines over the next few days. The program is all about getting your body ready for labor and also includes a whole series of programs for postpartum focused on healing and addressing diastasis recti. It's $12.95 a month (monthly subscription, quarterly and yearly are less) but the benefits have been recently featured on everything from NPR to Good Morning America. I have no affiliation with the program, I just really enjoy it. Dia Method
Acupuncture - something I have been receiving since I was diagnosed with GD.
Honestly, I HIGHLY recommend Acupuncture for all pregnant ladies, low risk, high risk, and everything in-between. I have weekly treatments and have developed a wonderful relationship with my Acupuncturist, who just so happens to be pregnant too! In a lot of ways, she knows more about what's been going on with my body then my own OB and those weekly sessions have been a place of total zen for me. Most importantly, it's managed all of my pregnancy aches and pains and I've flown through this adventure with hardly any discomfort. I wish I would have started sessions at the beginning of my pregnancy. Now, as I prepare for a medical induction, you can bet I'll be working with my Acupuncturist to give her methods for induction a go.
Note: I realize Acupuncture can be expensive, and often not covered by insurance. Unfortunately not everyone is in a place of being able to incorporate this treatment into their pregnancy, but if you can find a way to try one or two sessions in your third trimester, I think it would do wonders for your body. I was lucky and found a practice specifically dedicated to baby (and future baby) mamas. If you're in the Bay Area and interested, check out Mama Lounge
Evening Primrose Oil - recommended by my Acupuncturist and given the OK by my OB.
This one is probably even more hippy than Acupuncture but seems to be recommended by a lot of midwives and lovers of the holistic. It is an herb in gel tablet form used to stimulate cervix softening and thinning. It is not, per say, a way to induce labor but more of an induction prepping method. From what I understand about induction from my doctor, there is no "one size fits all" plan, it's more of a trial process depending on where your body is on its labor journey. Taking a supplement like EPO may or may not help the cervix move along but I am giving it a try. The more thinned out and dilated I am pre-induction the better the medical process. I am taking two tablets a day and will begin inserting one vaginally at night tomorrow when I hit 39 weeks, as well as using it to massaging my perineal and cervix. The brand recommended to me was Barlean's Organic Oils Organic Evening Primrose Oil Softgels, 60-Count Bottle
Membrane Sweep - recommended by my doctor.
Another method for trying to move along natural labor, a doctor will sweep or separate the membrane between the cervix and the amniotic sac, which can start labor contractions. This method is usually more beneficial if the cervix has started to efface and is softened. I'll see when I go in for my last antenatal appointment, before medical induction, how my cervix has progressed and hopefully will be able to implement this procedure.
Sexy time and nipple stimulation - recommended by my husband.
Interestingly enough, studies have found that semen can induce labor. Stimulating your nipples also seems to have a similar effect. It's amazing to me how connected a woman's nipples are to her uterus. Just like breastfeeding can speed up the shrinking of the uterus post-birth, nipple stimulation can induce uterine contractions. All praise the female body.
Red raspberry leaf tea - something I have already been drinking for a few weeks.
Comparable to Evening Primrose, Red raspberry leaf tea is more of an induction prep method than an actual way to induce labor. It can help strengthen the uterus and prepare it for labor. I've been using Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Third Trimester Tea, 16 Teabags/Box (Pack of 3) and love it.
Spicy food - because I love spicy food, and why not?
This falls into the old wives tale category, but people will tell you it can work. I have to eat, and I enjoy spicy food, so I'll give it a try!
The reality is I can try all of the above and some of it might work or none of it will. The body will do what the body wants to do. There are also a lot more methods people have tired, including different foods and herbs. If I try any of the other recommendations I'll make sure to discuss in my after baby post.
From now until little one joins us, I am focused on the positive, envisioning a safe and productive induction, and will be taking the next few days to relax and pamper my body before it's epic next adventure. Can't wait to hold this little guy!