What can I do about my late pregnancy?

Q: I'm 5 days overdue with my first baby, and I have tried everything I can to induce my labor naturally. I have tried walking, drinking ginger tea, eating spicy foods and pineapple, taking hot baths, etc. I don't know what else to do. I'm scared because I don't want to get induced; I have heard many horror stories. Should I just relax and let nature take its course?

A: Being late or, in medical lingo, being "post dates," is very common in first pregnancies. In fact, only 5% of babies are actually born on their due dates. Once they see due dates come and go, most women will do just about anything to induce labor! The truth of the matter is, most of these things won't actually work unless a baby is ready to arrive. This is why doing all the things you mentioned above usually won't induce labor when you are at 16, 29, or 35 weeks.

There are, however, two things that you haven't mentioned that you may want to try prior to an induction at the hospital: 1- Placing evening primrose oil (in 500 or 1000 mg capsules) vaginally can soften and thin out the cervix. This is often successful, but you would want to clear this with your practitioner first. 2- You can also ask your practitioner for a "membrane sweeping" procedure. Your practitioner would put a finger between your cervix/lower portion of the uterus and the amniotic sac (membranes) to try and separate the two. This causes natural prostaglandins to be released (similar to the stuff we use to induce labor), which can cause contractions to start. The procedure can be a bit uncomfortable, but if done correctly, it can induce labor in a good portion of women. Talk to your practitioner to see if you are a good candidate for "membrane sweeping." In general, alweays run ways to induce labor by your practitioner first.

Answered by Dr. Michele Hakakha

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