Sweeping, hill climbing, and old wives tales


Yesterday, my  husband made a pot of rice and beans for our pregnant friend. We wanted to do one last thing for them before the baby came, and we couldn’t help but feel that we were preparing her nourishment for labor. After he dropped it off at her house he said she had that look. The one that says I’m going to be in labor soon. It got me thinking…what beliefs did I hold about what could set on labor?

My mother-in-law insists that a good long walk brings on labor. She had no qualms about  encouraging me to more or less rock climb in order to bring on her grandbabies.

During my first pregnancy, I had a solid feeling that my child was going to be born early. I asked my mother to fly out two weeks before my due date. A couple nights after she arrived, we went out for thai food with two fellow pregnant friends. That night, my water broke. In addition to the theory of spicy food induction, I have also heard that eggplant has some magical ingredient that can set on labor. I’m inclined to think that Murphy’s Law played a role too since it was the day of our annual work party, the last day of my birthing class, and also my birthday.

The second time around, my midwife suggested she do a membrane sweep – basically, brushing across the cervix – in order to move things along. I was effacing more and more at each appointment and growing closer to my due date. It was one of those situations where I didn’t have a firm opinion or knowledge about the procedure already, so I just let her do it. Immediately, I felt a heaviness in my abdomen. I figure that my baby must have sunk down, perhaps even into the birth canal, but he eventually moved back up. It was not a comfortable experience for me, so I opted to skip any further sweeps.

The sweep stimulates the release of prostoglandins which can help induce labor. We had already been doing perineal massage and having sex in order to do our own sweeping. I also had still been nursing our daughter consistently, so I was getting the release of oxytocin from the nipple stimulation. I had no idea when this baby was going to be born other than the time he wanted to come. Each morning I woke up saying to myself, “Another pregnant night.”

I felt anxious in those last days because I did not want to transfer to hospital care to induce labor unless it was absolutely necessary. Under certain provider’s care, I have no doubt that I would be strongly encouraged to induce when I hit my due date. I have heard that some doctors in the U.S. will administer misoprostol or “miso” in order to induce. Miso is an ulcer medication and can cause miscarriages or birth defects.

I carried my second pregnancy to 40+2. I didn’t eat eggplant the night before. I didn’t eat a particularly spicy meal. Baby just decided it was the right time.

And for the record, our friend’s baby decided it was his right time too. He was born this morning, right after his mama had digested our hearty home cooked meal. We added jalapeno, just in case.

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About unapologetictasha

I love the struggles and joys of things; what I learn about parenting, I learn about life. I am a stay-at-home vegan mom who has a strict regimen of daily in-house dance parties. My kids and I love art, nature, and books.
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One Response to Sweeping, hill climbing, and old wives tales

  1. mommyhoodhk says:

    I did the long walks as well. My doctor told me that that didn’t work, but we did it anyway. It was nice to spend that time with my husband during those walks so even if it didn’t kickstart labour, they were valuable. #1 arrived at 40 weeks plus 3 days. Labour actually started the day after 40 weeks, but the labour was really long. I also did foot massages to try to kickstart things but that didn’t work either. #2 arrived at 39 weeks plus 6 days so very on time. I ate papaya, watermelon, pineapple to try to get things going and also got one foot massage and my doctor did a “sweep” as week at 38 weeks. Both times, my water didn’t break until we were at the hospital. The first was induced because labour was getting to be so long and painful so they broke my water for me. The second, my water broke during labour.

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