Old Wives’ Tales…..Can it really kick start labor?
The moment I saw the two pink lines on the pregnancy test, I was ready to become a mommy. I daydreamed about all things baby related. How would I decorate the nursery? Would it be a boy or a girl? Would the baby look like me or my husband? Needless to say I was anxious to get to 40 weeks and start the mommy journey.
At the end of my third trimester I started to research "old wives’ tales" on how to induce labor. I was ready to meet my little girl and I was willing to try some bizarre things I read online.
The "old wives’ tales" were endless! Eggplant parmesan, caster oil, walking, swinging, sex, etc. Game on! But how did I get to this point of depression? It didn’t happen over night and it wasn’t without reason. Here is my story on why I tried these crazy tales and what everyone wants to know…did it work?
Texas heat + Pregnancy – Patience= Ready to be done!
Huge, hot and pregnant! I endured one of the hottest Texas summers during my pregnancy. I would break a sweat just putting my socks on. Every day I would look at the weather hoping for rain but my hopes were crushed when the extended forecast read 100 and up!
I spent the entire summer secluded indoors. Being an active person, this was torture. I longed for the days of playing volleyball, going for walks or even a little retail therapy. But the thought of getting out of the A/C to waddle to the car was daunting. Unless I was going to the pool, I didn’t want to step foot out of the house.
Not only was I hot but I was uncomfortable! I had heartburn, indigestion, back pain and swelling! All of these factors combined made me even more anxious to go into labor. All of these symptoms would finally be a thing of the past and the best part of all; I would finally get to meet my baby girl.
My doctor gave me the option of being induced and I jumped at the opportunity. I had an official countdown to D-day. With the passing of each day I was one step closer to the end. I had the nursery complete, my hospital bag packed, and family on high alert. If this weren’t enough I deep cleaned my house and my husband even shampooed the carpets. We were ready!
The night before my induction my husband and I celebrated our last night with just the two of us. We went out to eat and spent the night talking about becoming a mom and dad and greeting our baby girl. We got home and set our alarms extra early, not that I needed an alarm to wake up. I didn’t sleep more than 3 hours! It was like the night before Christmas. I thought about what she would look like, how the labor would go and I envisioned our family and friends congratulating us and sharing our joy.
As soon as the clock hit 6:30 am I called the hospital like my doctor instructed to let them know that I was ready to get the show on the road. I expected a quick call saying "see you in 20 minutes". Imagine my surprise when the nurse said "I’m sorry Miss, can you call back in an hour?" I was down but not out.
My husband and I showered, got dressed and even packed the car up with pillows, bags and the car seat. It felt like a crawl to get to 7:30 am. But when it did I was back on the phone and the nurse said "I’m sorry Miss, can you call back in an hour, all of our beds our full right now".
At this point worry started to set in. What if they postponed my induction to later in the day? They don’t let you eat after midnight, so I was really starting to get hungry and frustrated….not a good combination for me!
Then another thought entered my mind. What if they not only postponed my induction, what if they cancel it? This was not an option I was ready to handle. My husband had taken two weeks off of work to spend time with the baby and if the induction were moved to another date, he would have less time to bond with her.
Well, after another excruciating hour it was time to call the nurse again. I had the phone pressed against my check as I crossed all of my fingers and toes, hoping that she would tell me that they were ready for me and to come in.
The nurse put me on hold, not a good sign. I looked across the room at my husband and he gave me a hopeful glance. The head nurse got on the phone…again, not a good sign. She informed me that due to a lot of women going into labor the night before that they could not do the induction and they would have to cancel. She said she would call my doctor to let her know but I needed to call her office to schedule my appointment for the week.
Um…did she just say set an appointment? Why couldn’t I just set another date for the induction? Why did I have to go back into the office for another appointment? Stage five melt down in 5…4….3…2….1….
I was crying and not just a tear rolling down the check. I’m talking ugly face crying. Where your face gets distorted and you are snorting and snotting all over yourself. It was not a good moment for me. I was upset because I thought I was going to see my baby, I wouldn’t be pregnant anymore and my husband was losing precious vacation time with our baby.
My husband finally got me to settle down and we were forced to roll with the punches. I called my doctor’s office and made an appointment to see my doctor the next day. Not too bad, I thought. I bet I will go into the office and she would schedule me for the following day, worst case scenario the day after that.
I was sitting in the waiting room and trying to stay optimistic. Today was my mom’s birthday and I knew she was not so secretly wishing I would go into labor today. She wanted her granddaughter to share her birthday and I thought that would be special too.
They called me back and I sat on the table covered with the annoying paper, shifting around waiting for my doctor to come in.
I heard her voice down the hall and I knew she was headed for my room. The handle turned and I saw a big grin on her face. She said "I have great news"!
Awesome, I thought! "You can get me in tomorrow"?
"No" she said, "I got you in on Monday, which is great because it was going to be next Friday".
How is this good news? Is this a joke? Did she want me to cry? That was a week away from my original induction date! Just then, the door opened and I saw a familiar face. My mom came to my appointment. She took the morning off for her birthday and to support me at my appointment. She knew how disappointed I was that the induction was cancelled.
The doctor repeated everything she told me and my husband. Hearing it twice was like salt in the wound. The first thing my mom asked was if there were any "old wives’ tales we could try to get this going on our own. The doctor listed a few things like caster oil and walking and then we all sulked out of the office.
As they walked and I waddled to the parking lot we invited my mom to breakfast for her birthday. We had just reached the parking lot when my mom asked me if I would try caster oil if she bought it. I was a little hesitant since I had read online that it was a powerful laxative and I didn’t want a bad day to get worse by having that situation all day. But I was desperate, so I agreed to give it a try.
My mom turned around and went back into the hospital to their pharmacy to buy the caster oil. She was going to meet us at the diner with the first of the "old wives’ tales" I would try that week. And so began my exploratory journey of the "old wives’ tales".
Old Wives Tale #1: Caster Oil
I sat at the diner table still in shock that I had to wait another week. I ordered a stack of pancakes ready to drown my sorrows in maple syrup. Before I ate the delicious consolation prize I downed two tablespoons of caster oil. It was gross! It tasted very waxy like melted lip stick. I dry gagged as I took the last tablespoon. It truly was nasty but if it worked it would be worth it.
Hours passed and I waited for something to happen. I wanted contractions, labor pains, or maybe my water breaking. But my hopes were met with a rumbling in my stomach. We had planned to go to the mall and try the next "old wives’ tale": walking but I was afraid to leave the house. I ran to the bathroom and spent the afternoon on the porcelain throne.
The verdict was in and it was a fail. The only thing that worked about the caster oil was cleaning out my system. After nine months of constipation it was nice to have some relief but I would never try that again. I regretted opening that Pandora’s Box.
Old Wives’ Tale #2: Eggplant Parmesan
We have the most delicious Italian restaurant by our house. So, when I read about the eggplant parmesan "old wives’ tale" this seemed like a much better option than the failed caster oil! I got dressed up in the only maternity dress that still fit me and then my husband and I took our date night for Italian.
I am not in to veggies at all! I am very much a meat and potatoes kind of gal, so I didn’t know if I was going to like eggplant. However, it is breaded and paired with pasta and marinara sauce, which made it very yummy. I ate until I felt like I would pass out into a food coma. This I thought, should do the trick.
I had researched online and found many women that claimed that this dish would induce labor. I read reviews that claimed that anywhere from 8 hours to 48 hours after eating the eggplant parmesan that women had gone into labor. There was even an Italian restaurant that boasted that their eggplant parmesan was guaranteed to induce labor within 48 hours or they would give you a gift card. Needless to say, I was very hopeful.
I laid in bed that night waiting for labor signs. Hour after hour passed and each time I got up to make my bathroom trips I became less hopeful.
As the sun came up I started to write it off as a fail. But I needed to give this tale the entire 48 hours.
Well, 48 hours came and when nothing happened, I gave up. My contractions never got stronger or closer together. Just the same old false contractions I had been feeling for weeks.
Even though this made for a fun night out with my husband and I tried a delicious dish I never, this "old wive’s tale" is debunked.
Old Wives’ Tale #3: Walk the Walk
Next on my list was walking. I’m not talking about a stroll around the block either. I’m talking power walking. Since it was a very hot summer, I waited until the sun was setting and my husband and I took off for the park down the street and I walked the ½ mile trail. I walked about 2 miles at a pace that got my heart rate up. I felt stronger contractions and they were more frequent. Walking might actually work!
The next day I went to the galleria and I walked around each floor and up and down the stairs. Again, I had stronger contractions and they were more frequent. I followed this up with another evening walk around the park. I even tried the bonus "old wives’ tale" of walking with one foot on the curb and the other on the street. I read that this tilt might help the baby drop more. I felt silly doing it and my husband was worried that I would trip, so he made me stop doing the curb trick after a block or so.
Even though my contractions were stronger and the frequency increased, it did not result in labor.
Old Wives’ Tale #4: Swinging
As each day passed and I still had not gone into labor, I was ready to try one of the silliest "old wives’ tales" I had read….swinging. Yes, that’s right, swinging, as in the playground swing set.
I read online that multiple women swore by this tall tale. They said that they went to a swing set and would swing for 45 minutes or more and would pump back and forth vigorously.
I went to the park and mustered up the courage to sit on the swing. I must admit I was nervous that it might have a weight limit and I would crash to the ground. But after a couple of slow swings, I gained momentum and got a good pace going.
I felt very odd being a grown, pregnant woman flying back and forth. A grandmother was at the park with her grandson and they were swinging next to me. I wanted to give her an explanation for my odd behavior but my dignity checked out with the caster oil.
As my heart rate climbed, I felt stronger contractions but they never increased in frequency and after I stopped swinging, so did the contractions.
Another one bites the dust.
Old Wives’ Tale #5: Doing the Deed
I’ll make this short and sweet. At nine months pregnant the last thing I wanted to do was to be intimate. But after many websites claimed that this would help to ripen the cervix, I figured I might end this the same way it all started. All I will say is that it did not work….no details necessary.
Moral of the Story
After all of the crazy things I tried over the following week I came to my conclusion. As well meaning as the "old wives’ tales" are, they will not work unless you are ready to go into labor. If your baby and your body are ready, these little tricks might kick start your labor.
However, if it isn’t time, these things will just be odd, uncomfortable or embarrassing.
My advice is to let nature run its course and you will meet your baby on their terms. And believe me; they are well worth the wait.