So, today is the estimated due date. I saw the midwives, yesterday. All looked good. It is always miraculous to hear the baby’s heat beat! My cervix was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced and the baby’s head is nice and low. The sutures on the baby’s head can be felt through the bag of waters. The midwife said that I was looking very healthy and prepared for labor any time. They cannot predict the date or time, so they do not even try.
The question was raised by her as to what I wanted to do if the baby was not born by the 41.5 week mark. They typically induce after that, because of increased risks to the mother and child. I do not feel comfortable with the thought of artificial induction. So, we agreed that an ultrasound and non-stress test would be performed at that point to check the amniotic fluid levels and the well-being of the baby. We would then decide how to proceed.
I did allow the midwife to sweep the membranes, in the hopes that that would move things along. She inserted her finger(s) into my cervix and swept from side to side, pulling the membranes (bag of water) away from the mouth of the cervix and the lower uterus, and in the process stretching and irritating the cervix. Sometimes this will generate local production of prostaglandins and enough of the necessary hormones to start labor. Sometimes it takes 3 or 4 attempts to begin labor. Many women find this to be a very uncomfortable, if not painful, procedure. I felt fine during the procedure with a cramping coming later in the day.
I have been drinking red raspberry leaf tea, throughout my pregnancy and have increased (in the last week) the concentration and frequency so as to prepare my uterus for a nice strong, smooth labor. Red raspberry leaf tea is a uterine tonic used by Native Americans for thousands of years. It tones your uterus by helping to “focus” your contractions. Its job is to help my uterus do more effective exercising. It does not “cause” contractions and can be safely used throughout pregnancy. It is contraindicated for those having complications “just in case”, however, by most doctors who do not understand its use. Many women safely use it from the moment they learn they are pregnant at six weeks until months after delivery. It helps to tone the uterus after delivery as well, shrinking it back to size more quickly and reducing bleeding.
I am also now taking evening primrose oil, in the hope that that will further prepare my cervix to stretch. Evening primrose oil is an excellent source of prostaglandins, which readies your cervix for labor. From my research, I found that it can be taken orally as soon as 34 weeks, and can be applied directly to the cervix at full term (36 weeks). The general recommendation is two 500mg capsules per day until week 38, at which time you increase to 3-4 per day. The entire capsule can be inserted vaginally (inserted just before bed, it will dissolve before the first time you wake to use the bathroom), or you can use the oil on your fingers for your perineal massage, then also rub on your cervix (assuming you can reach it). Applying directly to the cervix is optimal, but the beneficial ingredients are absorbed through the external skin or the stomach also.
So, the waiting begins. I cannot wait to hold this loving baby in my arms. To see the baby in Adam’s arms will be the sweetest gift of all. A reward without measure.