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As Flash approaches six months old (way too fast I might add), I’m looking back at my last pregnancy with a little bit of sadness. Our family definitely feels complete now but the realization that I’ll never be pregnant again has a little (very little) sting. Our kids are here and we’re not dealing with the stress and anxiety of adoption or pregnancy anymore. I suppose it’s a post-infertility woman thing. My last baby…*sigh.
This last pregnancy with Flash was so much easier than my other two. I think mostly because I didn’t have time to be anxious or worried about all the things that could go wrong. I had two other children who already required my attention. I experienced similar symptoms along the way. Nausea, dizziness, cramps, etc. But it was nothing I couldn’t handle and actually found a good amount of relief just from upping my magnesium intake and switching prenatal vitamins. Everyone knows though, with pregnancy the focus is on the end game. Labor.
I had always hoped and prayed for a natural delivery. Because Evelyn passed away in utero, I had to be induced to give birth to her. The process was incredibly painful (for more than one reason). When I was pregnant with Little Dude, I told my doctor I wanted to do everything possible to have a natural birth. It seemed like it was going to happen until Little Dudes heart rate dropped during a non-stress test. Again I was induced. It turned out LD had his cord around his neck and contractions were putting too much pressure on it. Induction resulted in Little Dude being delivered healthy and safe, and that’s all I care about. Being induced both times also meant epidurals both times. My body did not like all those medications and I suspect they contributed to LDs severe infant eczema.
I got another shot at a natural delivery with Flash. I made it clear to my doctor that natural was my goal and she saw no reason why it couldn’t happen. I’ve had the same doctor for all three pregnancies so she was very understanding. As a precaution I was scheduled for regular non-stress tests again but we never saw any abnormalities. I chose to prepare my body as best as I could for a natural delivery. I was determined to experience everything I could. I wanted to have my water break naturally, feel labor progress naturally, and deliver my child when he was fully ready. That was my dream and best case scenario. I read tons of articles on how to prepare for natural birth and I’d like to share the things that were helpful to me. Little disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m not even related to one. Don’t even like going to see doctors if I can avoid it. So take what I have to say for what it is; opinion only. This is my own personal experience and I hope it’s helpful to you.
Four steps I took to avoid being induced:
EPO contains prostaglandins which can help ripen the cervix. I took it for PMS before getting pregnant too. It’s good for hormonal balance in general. It can be taken orally or as a vaginal suppository. I opted to just stick with taking it orally. The suppository method can get, ahem… messy. Be careful though. Don’t start taking it until after 37 weeks as it can cause premature labor if taken earlier. I started with 1300mg at 37 weeks and doubled it at 39 weeks, taking one capsule in the morning and one in the evening. Although I opted to not have my cervix checked, because ouch, I dilated very quickly and had a very minor tear as compared to the severe tear I had with Little Dude.
I found this article to be very helpful. I love everything Mama Natural writes though. She’s always very informative. To summarize her post: “Researchers have found that date fruit has an oxytocin-like effect on the body, leading to increased sensitivity of the uterus. It also helps stimulate uterine contractions, and reduces postpartum hemorrhage the way oxytocin does.” Basically they make your uterus nice and soft. Benefits also include a good size list of natural vitamins. Plus they’re yummy! I ate the recommended six dates a day (yes six!) starting around the beginning of my third trimester. On days where I got a little sick of them I’d hide them in smoothies or grab a Lara Bar (the apple pie flavor is the bees knees).
I’m a big tea drinker to begin with. Neither Josh nor I drink coffee. I’ve always preferred tea so this was a simple step. I just switched my beloved green tea for a cup of RRL once a day starting at the beginning of my third trimester. Some people recommend starting to drink it at the second trimester, and some even earlier, but I just wasn’t brave enough. Red raspberry leaf has been shown to naturally strengthen the uterus making contractions more efficient (not something you want early in pregnancy). By toning those muscles, it can make labor faster. This was definitely the case with Flash’s birth. Six hours from first contraction to birth as compared to the 26 hours it took Little Dude to arrive. It also has a huge list of vitamins and minerals, helps bring about milk production faster, and balances postpartum hormones. Score!
When I went in for my non-stress test on my due date the doctor on staff tried as hard as she could to get me to induce. She told me there was no medical reason to stay pregnant and even used Evelyn’s stillbirth to try to talk me into it. In all fairness the hospital where I delivered is a trauma facility. They’re built to expect and handle the worst case scenario. However, when I asked her if there was a medical reason to induce, she couldn’t give me one. Flash was healthy and happy. I won’t lie and tell you it was easy to stick to my guns. Fear is easy to give in to, especially when your kids are involved. My mama gut stood firm though and I’m so grateful God granted me the birth experience I wanted.
I won’t say my labor was painless as a result of the steps I took to prepare. Not by a long shot. But it was easier and quicker than I could have ever hoped. If you’re hoping for the same, do your research, listen to your body, and trust your instincts.