She Says… Old Wives’ Tales

When your baby bump gets as ridiculously protruding as mine is right now, people start making all kinds of stupid comments to you about when the baby is coming and/or how many babies are in there.

Scratch that… I’ve been getting comments like that for the last month+ since my belly has been hugemongous for a while now.

Generally I don’t mind the commiserating smiles from other women, but enough with the you-think-you’re-so-hilarious jokes, especially from men. A few weeks ago I was in an elevator at work and a guy said, in a stupid voice, “You’re not gonna do anything funny in there, are ya? I mean, I played baseball but I was never a good catcher. Looks like that thing is about to fall right out!”. Hardy har har. Thanks dude. And that was a few weeks ago.

I’m slowly but surely creeping closer to that moment that I [luckily!] never hit with Owen. That moment that most pregnant women hit near the end. You know which one I mean. The “get this baby out of me” “I am so DONE” “I will try anything to induce labor” moment. Most hit this point long before 39 weeks, especially in the midst of a heat wave like we’ve had around here recently, so I’m patting myself on the back a little for still feeling relatively good and positive at this point. But still, that feeling is niggling at me and I can feel myself succumbing to it a little more every day.

As such, I’m in that slightly crazed period of Googling (and thinking about trying) anything that I’ve heard might maybe kinda sorta get labor going. There are thousand upon thousands of old wives’ tales about seemingly unrelated things that will get labor going. To be honest I only believe very few of them. But hey. I’ve only done this once before… so what do I know?

Confession time. Here are the things I have tried:

  • Red Raspberry Leaf tea. This doesn’t actually bring on labor, but it supposedly stimulates your uterus to get you prepped and ready. Tastes fine, is a nice water alternative, and my midwife said it can’t hurt (but cautioned me against drinking too much lest I have lots of unnecessary contractions).
  • Evening Primrose Oil. Again, not a labor stimulant but apparently can soften the cervix. Taken orally and vaginally. Midwife said it can’t hurt, but likely won’t do a whole lot for me since I’m already almost 100% effaced.
  • Eating dates. Some study (with a very small sample size) came out that indicated that women who ate 6 dates every day for a month prior to labor had a higher likelihood of their water breaking and labor moving quickly. I just started munching on dates 2 days ago, so I may have missed the boat on this one, but hey, they taste great and have lots of good fiber!
  • Sitting on an exercise ball. I replaced my desk chair with my exercise ball about a month ago. Now I do it while watching tv or playing with Owen (it’s very cute to see him pushing it around the house for me so I can sit down). It’s far more comfortable than a chair and my hips seem to like being splayed out to make room for my belly. Not sure if it’s helping prepare me for labor, but it’s more comfy than sitting on anything else.
  • Walking. When it hasn’t been too hot out, I’m still walking to pick Owen up from daycare, take him to the playground, etc. My midwife says there isn’t much merit to this, especially for a 2nd baby, though, so not to stress if it’s too hot and not to tire myself out by walking unnecessarily.
  • Swimming. I’ve been in a pool a few times over the last month and swimming in a local pond twice in the last two weeks. Since “swimming” right now means wandering around in the water making sure Owen doesn’t drown, I’m not really going to say I’ve given this a good shot.
  • Massage/acupressure. Got my first (and only) prenatal massage last Saturday and I asked her to hit ALL of those acupressure points that are usually avoided for pregnant women. The massage felt AMAZING, but it’s been 4 days, so I don’t think it had any effect on bringing on labor. We also have a foot/calf massager at home that I’ve been using while we watch tv at night. Again, it feels awesome, but I don’t think the massages are doing anything to get me closer to delivery.
  • Sex. Tried it a few times. ‘Nuff said.
  • Nipple stimulation. Again, not much to say here. Didn’t bring on extra contractions for me the way many women say it does. Didn’t feel all that great either. No thank you.

Things I have not tried, but have read about:

  • Olive Garden’s eggplant parmigiano and/or salad dressing. Google it, it’s a real thing. But it’s not on my list of things to try.
  • Castor oil. Ugh, I’ve heard awful horror stories about using this, and many of them do NOT end in labor. Not on my list.
  • Eating spicy food. I had super spicy Chinese food the night before my water broke with Owen, so I’m definitely game to try this again! Just haven’t had the opportunity (as Chinese takeout is not something my gluten free family members can try, or something that’s very good for my gestational diabetes).
  • Pineapple. Apparently lots of fresh pineapple contains some enzyme that puts women into labor. Unfortunately that would spike my blood sugar, and frankly I don’t have the time or energy to be prepping fresh pineapple (and canned/juice doesn’t have the enzyme).
  • Acupuncture. I tried acupuncture when trying to get pregnant with Owen and had a positive experience. I’d be willing to try this in a few more days as we get closer to my due date and induction date, but I don’t have a local person I know at this point, so it would take some planning.
  • Bumpy car ride. Worth a shot, but I have been busy working and taking care of Owen the last few days.

Anything else I should try? What worked for you? (Side note: I know most of these things are probably completely fabricated, and I fully realize that my body, like everyone else’s, will go into labor when it’s good and ready. Still, it’s fun to think about what could be done to get things going, and it’s funny to read about the silly things people will do when they are desperate. Help a sister out!).


30 responses to “She Says… Old Wives’ Tales

  1. I completely agree that nothing will work unless your baby and body are ready. However, I just gave birth this past Saturday to my second son (due date was July 12th, so six days early). The Wednesday before I had him, I was 2cm and 80% effaced. That day I started with the RRLT, and Friday morning hubby and I did the deed which brought on cramps throughout the day. Started having contractions later that night and he was born Saturday evening. So I think theres a possibility here that sex may have helped me out. Good luck, it’ll happen soon enough. I enjoy pregnancy, but once you hit that 39 week mark, sometimes you’re just willing to try about anything!

  2. Heh… I feel ya! Everyone in the world has been insisting throughout the entirety of my pregnancy (lol, there’s the key factor… MY pregnancy!) that I would be early and I’m about to hit 39 weeks on Friday. The random stranger comments… I’ve been over them for a month or so now (carrying really low, and BIG!), and I definitely hit the “GET IT OUT OF ME!!!” point around 36 weeks… not the most patient person in the world. I’ve tried every single home induction method that you have and nothing… if anything, I’m barely even having Braxton Hicks contractions anymore so now I’m paranoid that I’ve slowed the process down… meep! I’ve only heard horrible things about castor oil, haven’t tried any of the other things on “List B” and I don’t think I’m going to because they all seem a bit… sketchy, yeah that works… to me. Just hang in there, and know there’s someone else out there who is just as annoyed (and far less patient, so props!) as you are! 🙂

  3. You are doing great mama! Your positive attitude is amazing! Believe me, I know how uncomfortable you must be! My mother in law and my midwife both told me to drink a beer. I had a Sam Adams summer ale before bed and my water broke an hour and a half later. Maybe just because she was ready to come out, but also because the beer distracted/relaxed me just enough!

  4. Oh… heh, don’t know about how valid this one is (or safe), but my sister told me about “labor cupcakes.” I’ve never heard of them before but she said they make you go into labor… once again, I’m not sure about those, nor do I trust the reliability or safety behind anything my sister tells me about pregnancy/labor (or most things, lol) but I might do some research and check them out.

  5. Ask your midwife to strip your membranes at the next appt. I went into labor hours after this as did my SIL.

  6. About 2 weeks before my 2nd child was due, I ate (almost) an entire fresh pineapple, and my water broke that night. I had NO idea this was a wives’ tale, or if it was related. I hadn’t had any other signs of labor before this, either. With my first, I went until 40w2days, so I assumed it would be the same with the second. Guess you really just never know!
    Good luck!!! 🙂

  7. For my first daughter, I was induced 10 days past my due date. So with my second daughter, at 39 weeks and miserable, I scheduled my induction. The morning I was supposed to go in, I went into labor naturally! Of course. So you should just schedule an induction and you’ll go into labor that day. 😉

    (But probably what honestly helped was relaxing about it- everything was done, I knew the baby was going to come out, and then poof- labor!)

  8. Cinnamon is also supposed to help starting labour… So maybe some cinnamon buns?

  9. I finally started drinking red raspberry leaf tea a few days before Ryan was born. But considering I had him 10 days past due, I don’t really feel it deserves the credit. 😉 Good luck, hunny! Thinking about you and hoping everything goes well.

  10. Wow, Olive Garden salad dressing? I never heard that one before!
    I don’t have any insights to share as I never really got to the point of feeling “done”. I went into labor and delivered on my due date (which the nurses loved by the way). I have heard several folks swear by the pineapple method, though! Good luck!!!!

  11. Well, last Friday I commented on your blog and a couple hours later, my water broke, so I suggest continuing to blog! 🙂 I will say I walked a ton that day, but you already sound like you are walking more than what is really comfortable. I have heard about the eggplant parm helping too. Whatever you try, good luck!!! I hope he comes soon!!

    PS. I have no idea what your maternity plans are, but I am all in favor of starting your maternity leave whenever you feel is good for you. There is a lot of pressure sometimes to work up to the due date, but pregnancy is hard and having an end date to work, regardless of whether the baby is here or not, may help you keep your patience and sanity. You deserve it! Good luck!

  12. Per the last old wives tale-bumpy car ride-maybe you could go on a bumpy tractor ride at Drumlin Farm this week or a bumpy train ride at Lookout Farm (if you make it to the weekend) while keeping Owen occupied. I remember the women at the farms cautioning me that the bumpy rides might speed up labor when we visited close to my due date with my second. My son loved the bumpy rides and getting in those last few ‘only child’ moments late last summer. Best wishes on a safe delivery and a speedy recovery!

  13. The acupunturists at the Domar Center in Waltham are AMAZING! Recommend looking at them if you decide to go that route.

  14. Angie All The Way

    I wish I had some advice but nothing worked for me and I ended up being induced :-/ I say do all the things that are safe & practical and if it can’t hurt, then it can’t hurt!

  15. I was also going to suggest asking your midwife and/or doc to strip your membranes. My OB did it for me at 38w5d (a Thursday morning), and I went into labor on Friday night at 38w6d. Baby born within 5.5 hours from start of contractions. So I don’t know FOR SURE that it did the trick, but it certainly didn’t hurt! I also ate spicy food a few hours before contractions started, and other spicy foods AND eggplant parmesan in the week leading up to labor. Tons and tons of walking, too. Good luck!

  16. Isn’t it amazing how people have no learned to keep ridiculous comments to themselves?

    I had Mexican food the night before I had Ella. I actually thought the contractions were gas pains until my water broke. I drank four cups of Raspberry Leaf Tea daily from 36 weeks until I gave birth at 38.5 weeks. I also did the Evening Primrose Oil orally once/day for the same number of weeks. Exercising I think can really help too.

  17. Caroline s.

    I sat on an exercise ball for a month solid, it was way more comfortable then any other place in my house by the time I was 39 weeks. The night I went into labor I was bouncing around and rolling around on that ball singing “come on out, come on out!” etc. It was hilarious! I have no idea if it worked or did anything, but when I went to bed that night I had three contractions in a row then my labor started, water started leaking, contractions came in every 3-5 minutes (to start!) and 11 hours later I had a baby!

  18. There’s a restaurant here in Atlanta called Scalini’s and their eggplant parm is supposed to do the trick–they even have the recipe on their website! People swear by it. I had to be induced with both of my boys so I never tried it, but why not? 🙂

  19. I had my son 3 weeks early and was trying to keep him in as long as possible, so for the last month of pregnancy I purposely avoided all of those things because I really wanted to make it to 37w!
    Have you tried using your breast pump? I’m not even sure if this is an old wives’ tale, but I used it for the first time in months the other day and OMG the cramping in my uterus. May get something started?

  20. I’m stuck on only trying sex a few times. Doesn’t everyone do it like all the time in the last few weeks because you know it’s going to be over a month before you can do it again?

    I know how you feel (I’ve been there twice) but just relax and wait. The baby will come when he comes. Don’t pump your boobs while riding in a car on a bumpy road to try to induce labor. The whole thing will go better if your body is ready.

    The other option is to pre-pay for some event next week, the kind you can’t do if you just had a baby (concert? baseball game?) and then the baby will come just in time for you to miss it. And if he doesn’t? Then you have a fun event to attend 🙂

  21. On the day I went into labour I had a membrane sweep, took a 3.5 mile walk, bounced on my yoga ball and ate a very hot vindaloo. I was 10 days overdue though, so not sure if any of that helped!

  22. My mom did the castor oil thing w/my brother and, apparently, it worked, but going a little overdue sounds like a better option to me than that!

    When I was in with my last one of the other moms had fallen thru the seat of a garden chair and that brought on labour but I wouldn’t recommend that, either!

    They tried to induce me with my first and, after 24 hours, sent me home again because nothing was happening. He came a week later and, as an adult, he is still late for everything.

    They all come, eventually, one way or another.

  23. I will probably be the only commenter here who will say to you–enjoy being pregnant with your baby for as long as you can. Be in the moment rather than wishing for him to be born already. He will be born, that is a given but then your pregnancy with him will be over, forever.

    I wish I had been more “present” during both of my pregnancies rather than constantly looking towards and thinking about the future. One of the things I thought about after my second son was that I could no longer feel him kicking inside of me. He had arrived and I was so happy that he was healthy and with us but I missed being pregnant with him.

    So for the next hours/days/weeks, enjoy being pregnant. It’s one of life’s most wonderful adventures and you’re experiencing it, right now.

  24. @Kristin, I love your mention of maternity leave, as I stopped working a week ago and have been frustrated that I have no baby to care for yet really couldn’t see myself pushing through another week or more, physically or mentally. I worked up until the end with my daughter, but it WAS hard and I feel like my body knew that as soon as I was done working it was baby time. This time maybe it’s confused and isn’t sure it is baby time yet, but I’m hoping it gets the memo soon 🙂

    I have no advice, Kate, as I’ve tried less than you have and have nothing to show for it, but I just keep thinking that it will happen when it’s supposed to … I think these kids/our bodies just know when it is time and when they’re ready. I’m extremely frustrated by this, because I just want to have it happen and would love to have it all planned out (and have all of the comments stop, because really, I don’t appreciate being told that I look like I’m ready to pop or the “Whoa! Please don’t have that baby in this store” comments), but I’m trying to just let things fall in to place and trust that it will happen sooner than later. My labor and delivery with Elle fell together more perfectly that I could have imagined, and I guess I just keep thinking that it will happen again this time. I think my expectations are my biggest obstacle this time – last time I didn’t have any idea what to think, but this time I keep thinking it should be earlier, I shouldn’t still be pregnant, etc. If this was my first I’d just be in the dark instead of trying to figure things out. The more I try to prepare the more frustrated I’m getting, so I’m really trying to just mentally relax (I didn’t say I was successful, but it’s the approach I’ve been trying to consciously take!).

  25. For my first kid, nothing – I was induced at 41.5 weeks (then popped him out after only 3 hours of active labor) My second was 2 days early and came after 24 hours of labor. I don’t think I did anything different to bring on labor then. Third baby – I’m convinced it was sex. We did it the night after my due date and I went into labor less than 24 hours later. Looking back at all 3 times, I think it’s safe to say there’s no way to tell. 🙂

  26. Get a pedicure. Thats what started my labor 🙂

  27. kitchenbelle

    I have to disagree with your midwife on this one! One word: Walk! Walk as much as you can! Try for early in the morning when it is cooler out and Owen is still sleeping. Walking several miles is sure to evict that precious babe! Walk, walk, walk! (or maybe at this point it is waddle, waddle, waddle?)

  28. I shaved my legs and had my nails done lol. My reasoning: you can’t go into labor if you’re prepared lol. Dh was fulfilling his Army Reserve duty 8 hours away and we needed the money…plus, didn’t want to be in labor on my birthday. Baby Silas would have been born in 3 hours if the docs and crafty nurses hadn’t help my body keep him in an extra 5 hours so that dh could be there for the birth. Not an easy task…and he was born on my birthday lol.

  29. SEX SEX SEX — it has worked for BOTH of mine. Went in to labor within 24 hours. The key is (yes … this is QUITE graphic) making sure it is a deeper penetration so that the sperm can soften up that cervix. I feel like I can time my labors due to sex. Both times I’ve been having contractions within HOURS of it.

  30. Give up? That’s when my son came (10 days late!) hahahah And take solace in knowing that your body is well prepped so that when labor does begin or you have to be induced, it should go really well!

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