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How Moms Try to Kick-Start Labor, and Why Due Dates are Wrong

moms trying to induce labor

Why are we so eager to move things along?

In my last week of pregnancy, I remember the flood of advice I got on how to speed things along. The one that stands out was from my high school best friend who told me to eat the spiciest meal I could get my hands on. In Los Angeles, there’s a much-talked-about salad at a restaurant in Studio City with supposed labor-inducing qualities. I couldn’t coordinate to take the trip, so my husband and I just ordered Thai from down the street.

Approximately half of expecting moms do something to try to speed up their labor in the last week of pregnancy, according to a new study in the journal Birth. The top contenders that moms tried to bring on contractions: having sex, eating spicy food, and walking.

There were some less popular techniques in the mix that don’t sound all that healthy to me. So do any of them work? And I can’t help but ask if this is all because due dates are just a bad idea.

Other moms in the study tried to use laxatives, nipple stimulation, acupuncture and more. And a previous study from the same author found that starvation (what?!), and certain herbal concoctions were used by some moms.

According to the lead author, of Ohio State University, the mechanism that starts labor is somewhat of a mystery (although I wrote about new research on what starts labor in my column here), but that it’s likely a hormonal trigger that moms have no control over. The only method with hormonal impact is nipple stimulation, said the researcher, since it causes a release of oxytocin (not sure why sex wouldn’t have the same effect, then).

I remember the feeling of being ready to meet my son, but all the talk of egging on labor makes me think that specific due dates are a bad idea. They make us think our baby is “late” when we’re only 40 weeks, and at 39 weeks moms are climbing the walls to get it done already. What about if we had ranges instead of dates — who ever gives birth on their due date anyway? Your baby will be born between December 15 and December 30 — giving moms the range of 39-41 weeks. Then we wouldn’t have to be disappointed when we’re not having contractions, or feel pressure to think about inducing early.

What do you think? Were you eager to speed up your labor and did you try anything to move things along?

Image: flickr

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