baby steps: on the road to ripeness at 37 weeks pregnant

February 13, 2012, Michaela Evanow, 12 Comments

Now that I’ve hit the 37 week mark, I’m confident that baby girl is cooked enough to join the world. She’s at least 7lbs, and considered full term. However, I don’t want her out just yet, but I would like things to be ready and raring to go at 40 weeks.

Of course, I’m well aware that babies do not come out until ready, and in reality, no amount of prodding and pushing can get a baby excited to come out.

That being said…this is the best part of pregnancy, as far as carrying a baby goes. Suddenly she feels real. She is a true human tucked away in there. The mystery is gone. Her feet are here, that’s her heel, here’s her bum, and those are little fists down there. It’s mesmerizing to belly map and to rock her to sleep when she has the hiccups, since I can cup her bum in my hand.

Last week my midwife confirmed she is still head down. I had a conversation with Jay about it.

“I went and saw Liz today and she confirmed baby girl is head down! And she’s engaged!”

“What? Liz is like 50?!”

Silence.

“Jay, Liz isn’t engaged. The baby is.”

“Oh.”

“Which means she’s engaged in my pelvis. And flexed.”

I laughed so hard. This is coming from my sweet husband, who, while watching Madonna perform her song ‘Vogue’ at half time at the Superbowl said: “Why is she advertising for Vogue?”

But back to baby girl. Oh sweet flexed chin of hers! What a lovely, buttery word for me to hear! She went from being breech to being perfectly engaged and tucked in. Such a gift to me. I’ve read labor is usually easier when the chin is flexed, so hallelujah.

The checklist for 37 weeks:

  1. Mother’s Time Tea (Ninth Month tea) from Gaia Gardens or another reputable brand. The tea contains a few essential herbs that aid in naturally inducing labor, strengthening the uterus, and aiding in an easier labor. If you can’t find a blend like this, try raspberry leaf tea. Ask your midwife for more information on dosage. I like to make a big pitcher and keep it in the fridge for iced tea.

2. Acupuncture for cervical ripening: Treatments preformed at week 37, 38, 39 and 40 weeks, have been studied and the research indicates that the baby becomes engaged in an anterior position, the cervix softens and dilates, and women often go into labour within 4 days of their due date. These acupuncture treatments are a gentle yet effective way of preparing your body for labour, but do not force the baby to come out if they are not ready too. I’ve done this with both my babies. My first was 4 days late, but my second was born at 39 weeks and I was already dilated to 4 cm before I went into labour.

3. Evening Primrose Oil for cervical ripening and to help prevent tearing (I pushed out a 9.3lb baby and didn’t tear–so I think it works!) Evening Primrose acts as a gentle prostaglandin. “Evening Primrose Oil may be taken orally or used as a vaginal suppository. EPO should not be used before the 36th week of pregnancy because of it’s ability to help in cervical dilation. I recommend taking the supplement orally at 36 weeks, and waiting until 38 weeks to begin using it as a vaginal suppository. You should speak to your doctor or midwife about using EPO, especially if you have had a previous cesarean, as the overuse of prostaglandins can cause hyper stimulation of the uterus. Your doctor or midwife may not “recommend” it’s use, but if you really want to use it, ask them if it will harm you in any way; If the answer is no, it’s your call.” From Natural Family Today. Read more about using it.  I have been “taking it” twice a day. I’ve noticed my Braxton Hicks have become stronger, but usually only when I have to pee and at night. Make sure you wear a liner, because a bit of the oil will come out gradually.

Call me crazy for wanting to shout her name from the rooftops and have birthday cake, but this body is getting thrown through the ringer. I recently acquired a nasty cold that has me wheezing and coughing *ouch*, plus my knee dislocated a few days ago, thanks to all the snapping, crackling and popping relaxin is causing. My pelvis feels like it’s been stabbed a hundred times, so turning over at night time is excruciating, as is sitting and standing. And alas, I’ve finally reached the stage of swollen ankles and feet, which really hurt, by the way. Plus, my scar is beginning to stretch. Imagine drawing a tiny little happy face on a flat balloon, and then blowing it up. Suddenly the smiley face is huge and not so smiley. I’m a little worried by it, since it’s really painful. I’m not sure how much more this body can take…

Just enough to birth a beautiful butterball!

I am counting down the days, and praying everyday that those rushes come on strong so I can finally kiss her face.

UPDATE: I have followed this routine for both of my children, and will for my third pregnancy as well. Both of my births were shorter (7 and 4 hours) drug free in the water or at home. I never tore and my cervix was always nice and soft and dilated to at least 3cm before I went into labour. I really believe in the power of acupuncture and Evening Primrose Oil, and I feel that both of these steps really helped my body tune up for labour.

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