I’d always heard labor was like a marathon — a long, physical, strenuous endurance event — but I didn’t truly believe it until I went through it myself. I barely even have the right to claim that since my labor was fairly short as far as first-timers go, but it was quite the physical endeavor none the less. This time around, although I can hope my labor goes as quickly and smoothly, I’ve been paying more and more attention to things that can help your labor go faster and with less difficulty. They may not end up having any influence on my experience, but as long as they’re not dangerous, I’m interested in trying them out. The more tools I can have in my arsenal to help things go well, the better.
Here are three things that may help labor go smoother and faster:
A small study showed that women who ate six dates a day during their last four weeks of pregnancy had shorter labors with fewer interventions. Ninety-six percent of the date-eating women went into spontaneous labor (compared to 79 percent of the non-date eaters) and only 28 percent of those that ate dates needed oxytocin to assist labor as opposed to 47 percent who didn’t eat dates.
In addition, the women who ate dates were more dilated than those that didn’t upon admission to the hospital.
And the most appealing part to me: the first stage of labor lasted an average of 510 minutes (8.5 hours) in the women who ate dates during the end of pregnancy versus 906 minutes (15 hours) in those that didn’t. Given that much of that is time spent potentially in pain, I’d take 8 hours over 15 hours any day.
Now as for eating six dates a day, that doesn’t sound super appealing to me, but I’m for sure giving it my best shot. I’ve been filling them with almond butter, blending them in smoothies, and hiding them in homemade granola bars.
While it sounds cruel to tell a woman in the end stages of pregnancy to try to sleep more, it could be worth it to do whatever it takes to get some extra shut eye. It may not be easy given a tendency for insomnia in pregnancy, discomfort due to a large belly, and needing to wake up for other kids, but women who slept less than six hours a night at the end of pregnancy had longer labors and were more likely to end up needing C-sections.
I really, really don’t need anyone telling me to try to get more sleep — I want that enough on my own — but knowing that getting adequate shut eye could shorten my labor and perhaps help me avoid a C-section? I’m all for it. I’ve been spritzing my pillow with lavender spray, piling pillows all around me (even if that means little room left for my peacefully slumbering husband), and going to bed as early as I can to help make up for all the time I spend awake shuffling to the bathroom or tending to my 3-year-old’s middle of the night requests.
3. Red raspberry leaf tea
Herbal tea has long been touted to have many health benefits, and it’s no different when it comes to pregnancy and labor when talking about red raspberry leaf tea. Red raspberry leaf tea appears to be able to help shorten labor, prevent pre- or post-term gestation, avoid artificial rupture of membranes, and decrease the need for a C-section or vacuum-assisted delivery.
Red raspberry leaf tea can also help tone the uterus and ease labor pains. (Because it can help tone the uterus, medical providers often suggest waiting until your second or third trimester to consume red raspberry leaf tea.) I’m not a huge fan of tea, but sign me up!
Since none of these things sound particularly difficult or have negative side effects, I’m certainly going to give them a try. Anything that makes the experience shorter and less painful sounds good in my book.
Have you tried any of these methods to shorten labor? Did they work?More On