Last month, I stopped by our local Vitamin Shoppe and picked up a couple of items to help prepare my body for labor.
The first up is red raspberry leaf tea (RRLT). RRLT is proven to strengthen the uterine and pelvic muscles, and is said to “focus” and improve your contractions when labor starts and help shrink the uterus after giving birth. RRLT is rich in various vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, and vitamin C so many claim that taking it regularly can also help increase milk production, decrease nausea, and ease labor pains.
There is some debate as to when RRLT can be safely taken during pregnancy. Some say that it should not be taken during the first trimester while others argue that it’s perfectly safe. Since I didn’t know about it until well into my third trimester, and because I wanted to play it safe, I started drinking it starting my 34th week, at the recommended 2-3 cups per day.
I have read that some women find the tea too bitter and prefer to add honey to the drink, but I personally didn’t find it bitter at all and found it to taste a lot like plain black tea. (And just in care you are wondering, the brand that is linked to above and pictured on the left is the one I am taking.)
The second item on my list was evening primrose oil (EPO). EPO is an excellent source of prostaglandins, which helps to soften and “ripen” your cervix, thus readying it for labor.
As with most natural methods, the effectiveness of EPO cannot be seen overnight. The oil needs to be used for a few weeks to gradually ripen the cervix. At the same time, there are some concerns that using it prematurely can adversely affect pregnancy — mainly, that you might go into pre-term labor — so it is recommended that you should not take EPO before 34 weeks.
Although EPO can be taken orally, it is most effective if applied directly to the cervix or used in conjunction with perineal massages.
I started taking EPO along with RRLT at 34 weeks. After doing some research, decided that the following schedule would work best for me:
- 34-35 weeks: take one 500mg capsule orally in the morning, take another 500mg at night.
- 36-37 weeks: take one 500mg capsule orally in the morning, take another 500mg at night. Before going to bed, take a sterilized needle and pierce one 500mg capsule. Insert the capsule vaginally and leave it there overnight (pantyliners recommended).
- 38 weeks onward: take two 500mg capsules orally in the morning and another two at night. Before going to bed, break apart a capsule or two to use in perineal massages.
Luckily, J has no qualms about helping my body along so he has agreed to perform my perineal massages. He will also “help” in another way, as semen is said to be a natural (and easy) source of prostaglandins.
I want to make it a point to say that RRLT and EPO are not ways to induce labor. These methods will only help with labor when the time comes. Because as much as I want this baby out NOW, I want her to stay in there as long as possible until she is fully healthy and ready to survive in the outside world.
As for preparing myself mentally for labor? Bring it on! At 36.5 weeks, I am still not scared to go into labor…at all! If anything, I’m excited for it! I think my high tolerance for physical pain has a lot to do with the fact — I have never really been scared of pain my entire life. I figure that this is something that women have been doing since the existence of mankind and if they can do it, I can.
I also have an additional arsenal in my mental armor in that I have already gone through some excruciating pain from this pregnancy. Severe round ligament pain, as was the case with me, can be more painful than labor pains so I figure that I already know what to expect, or that the pain will actually be less. (It can’t be any worse, because if it is I would just pass out.)
I fully trust my OB, I love the hospital where I will be delivering, and I have faith in God that He will provide what is best for the baby and our expanding family.
So with my mind fully prepared and my body slowly getting there, all we can do now is wait. The next few weeks can’t come fast enough.
it is getting close! i'm so excited for you and your growing family. thank you for sharing the pre-labor prep. sounds like you are prepared for what's to come. i think i would feel the same way as you do about labor. i would be more concerned about the lack of sleep and constant worrying for the next 18 or so years.
Wow, way to go in being prepared!! I didn't do anything to "help my body along," so to speak. Honestly, I didn't even take pre-natals for most of my pregnancy or iron pills for the anemia… I just tried to eat very balanced meals. But I did hold to the same line of "If they could do it, so can I" thinking. Giving birth was a pretty empowering experience, in my opinion — I wasn't sure before if I had a high pain tolerance, but now I know I do! 🙂 So excited for you!!
Oh, wow. This is really informative. I'd like to try these as well, but will wait until you deliver…which may be too late for me. Anyhoo, I hope these help and you have a fantastic delivery!
You sound very prepared and ready to go!
Thanks ladies. I'll be sure to keep you posted on whether these methods helped or not!
Did you also know that Primrose Oil is really good for anxiety, pms, stress, and mood swings? Before I was pregnant I took it quite often when I could feel my hormones making me a little crazy and it really helps calm that down. That certainly can't hurt the last few weeks of pregnancy, huh? When I asked my doctor if I could take it when I was all emotional in my first trimester he said no because it does all the things you listed up above. Let us know how it goes… I am at 33 weeks so I should be able to take it again soon!!
I've been watching this awful show called "i didn't know i was pregnant". There are soooo many precautions pregnant women need to take. I don't get how these "i didnt know's" deliver safe & healthy babies… BAH!
You're in my prayers mama geek!!!
@Lacey — I did not know that…thanks for the info!
@Jina — I don't understand that show either, especially since there have been SOOO many changes to my body since I got pregnant, and nevermind all the fetal movements! I know every pregnancy is different, but I really have trouble not believing that these women are in denial.