Those weeks leading up to birth can be so brutal – you can’t sleep, the baby is kicking you in the ribs, you may be swollen or have painful varicose veins, and you’re just ready for the baby to come out! We GET it. So here’s our favorite natural ways to induce labor thanks to our doula Lori Bregman!
Written by: Jessica Diamond, MPH, RDN
This week, we talked about our birth stories and our major take-away: each and every birth is different and magical in its very own way. But those weeks leading up to birth can be so brutal – you can’t sleep, the baby is kicking you in the ribs, you may be swollen or have painful varicose veins, and you’re just ready for the baby to come out! We GET it.
So, in the third trimester and then the weeks leading up to our births, our doula, Lori Bregman, helped us prepare our bodies so that we had a better chance of going into labor spontaneously and having a labor and birth that was just a bit easier.
A little disclaimer here: doing these things doesn’t mean your body will go into labor naturally or on your desired timeline. All of our kids were born at different times around our due dates, some early and some late. But what these evidence-based tips have been shown to do is to help our bodies get ready for labor by softening up the cervix and helping the baby get into the right position for a vaginal birth.
These tips helped us so much, and we’re excited to share their magic with you! As always, check with your doctor to make sure these tips are safe for you and your baby.
And just a reminder that some of the links included are affiliate links, which means part of the proceeds go to support Meaning Full Living at no cost to you.
Dates are delicious, nutritious, and can naturally prepare your body for birth. What’s not to love?! Eating 6 dates per day for 4 weeks leading up to birth has been shown to make the cervix softer and more dilated, making the first stage of labor easier and faster. And other research suggests that dates could reduce the need for labor induction.
Not only have dates been shown to ease labor, they’re also filled with fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins, and as one of the sweetest fruits, they are the perfect substitute to refined sugar. So a month before your due date, stock up on dates and give our Stuffed Dates Recipe a try. This was our go-to snack in the third trimester!
Red raspberry leaf tea has been used for centuries to prepare for labor, and there’s quite a bit of research that has shown that it can reduce labor, shorten push time, and decrease the risk of unplanned C-sections by toning and tightening the uterus to make labor and delivery easier. Researchers found that drinking a few cups of red raspberry leaf tea every day for the last 2 months of pregnancy may help lead to a spontaneous and faster labor. It’s recommended to start with 1 cup/day at first and then increase to 2 cups/day over a couple of weeks, as long as you don’t experience cramping or any other undesirable side effects.
Walking, and especially curb walking, have been shown to help your baby get deeper into your pelvis, which can help your cervix dilate. Once you’re full term, curb walking helps you work with gravity to slowly shift your baby downwards.
How do you curb walk? Find a curb and walk with one foot on the curb and the other on the street. It’s going to feel uneven and a bit strange because your body is out of balance, but this is exactly what opens up your pelvis and allows the baby’s head to put gentle pressure on your cervix. If you’re pregnant in the winter and can’t get outside, you can replicate this process by wearing one high heel and one sneaker and walking around your house. Make sure to switch sides and take breaks as needed. Be sure to listen to your body and don’t overdo it!
Bouncing on Birthing Ball
Just like curb walking, using a birthing ball to bounce and do figure 8’s with your pelvis can help push your baby deeper in your pelvis and help your cervix dilate. It can also help you feel more comfortable in a seated position with less tension on your back. A couple times a day, sit on a birth ball and gently bounce up and down and then make figure 8’s with your pelvis. Make sure to switch directions so you don’t favor one side over the other.
Not only is a birth ball an amazing tool for preparing for birth and during early labor, it’s also an amazing tool to use once your baby comes. You can sit on it with your baby in your arms and gently bounce up and down. Trust us, the amount of bouncing you do in the newborn stage is a lot, and having a place to sit comfortably while doing it is amazing!
Just like curb walking and bouncing on a birthing ball, deep squats can help push your baby deeper into your pelvis and help your cervix dilate. As your body moves up and down, it stretches and aligns your pelvis. We did deep squats during our pregnancy and then ramped them up a couple weeks before birth.
To do a deep squat, separate your legs a little further than hip width apart and gently squat down and up. Make sure there’s something sturdy next to you so you don’t lose your balance!
After-Birth Healing Recipes from our Doula, Lori Bregman
And we can’t forget about preparing to take care of our body after birth. We learned from Lori that planning for the fourth trimester is a powerful way to set our body and mind up for success after birth. We loved Lori’s at-home healing recipes so much that we had to share them with you!