It's been a long hard nine months and you cannot wait to meet your little bundle of joy but there is one snag, you are past your due date and there is no sign of the patter of tiny feet. We've all heard the old wives tales of a hot curry and a night of passion to get things rolling, but Independent Midwife Regina Covington gives us her advice on what to do when you are waiting for an overdue baby.
So your due date has come and gone and you’re keen to avoid induction of labour. Most babies will arrive by week 42 so keep active and try to relax. Keeping active can encourage the baby’s head to move down, whilst staying relaxed is also good for oxytocin production. Both your baby and your body will know when the time is right and apart from being physically ready, you should be ready mentally too. Remember all the lovely hormones you produced when you made your baby, well these are the same hormones that you need to get your baby out.
Based on old wives tales about methods to induce labour naturally, there are various things you could try, however, there is little evidence to suggest they work. Eating hot spicy food can cause an upset stomach and the physical act of going to the toilet to open your bowels may get you in labour. Pineapples contain enzymes that can make you go into labour, so try eating a whole fresh one. Try some reflexology, acupressure, acupuncture, relaxation, visualisation, massage, homeopathy or go for a long walk. None of these are proven but can help if the time is right.
Ask your midwife or obstetrician for a sweep, they will check your cervix for signs that your body is getting ready for labour. You may need 2-3 sweeps before labour is stimulated. Try some nipple stimulation to encourage the release of oxytocin which can help bring on labour. An orgasm can stimulate your uterus and get labour going, so having sex can also encourage labour to start. Semen contains the hormone prostaglandin which is usually used to induce labour.
If you decide not to be induced at the time recommended by your midwife or obstetrician, then make a plan that you’re all happy with, and remember this can change at any time. You should be offered additional scans and monitoring of your baby’s heart rate. Keep an eye on your baby’s movement too, as by now you should be familiar with what’s normal for your baby as there is a very small risk of unexplained stillbirth between weeks 39-42 with a slight increase after 42 weeks. Although movement does slow down towards the end of your pregnancy it should still remain regular and you should be getting at least 10 episodes of movement per day. If you start to feel reduced movement then it is probably advisable to have labour induced at this point.