Labor day 2012 -- getting labor going

by Julie Snyder

laboring on labor dayIt's the end of the summer and Labor Day is fast approaching.

A few years ago, one of my younger kids -- who must have spent too many hours around listening to mom discuss pregnancy and parenting topics -- asked, "Mom, is this the day you're supposed to have babies?"

"No, it's a national tribute to all of us worker-bees out here who keep the world running. Sometimes, a mom does have the baby on that aptly-named day."

Those of you due in August or early September and still pregnant might think the kid had it right. "It's time! Let's get this labor party started."

Unfortunately, you may face a roadblock or two. It's a national holiday. Very few hospitals are going to schedule an induction.

That means you're probably going to have to go into labor on your own.

Countless "tried-and-true, no-fail, absolutely guaranteed methods" to get those contractions rocking and rolling have been shared over the years.

Moms say bumpy car rides, walks, sex, bounces on the exercise ball, acupressure, raspberry leaf tea have gotten things started. For thousands of years herbs, tinctures, and specific foods have been used to kick labor into high gear.

Even certain recipes are touted to have magical dilating powers. Eggplant parmesan might the most infamous of these, with spicy ginger cookies running a close second.

Best ways to start labor -- or not

Walking, walking and more walking

Walking can be effective for starting labor. It helps rotate your baby into an optimal birthing position. You're also engaging gravity's help as your baby's head puts pressure on the cervix. If you're not excited about getting up and out, you can get on your exercise ball or do pelvic tilts to encourage proper positioning of the baby

One mom told me that long walks under a full moon got her labors started. It sounds romantic. Perhaps that walk could lead to the next tip and you'll get a one-two punch to get things started.

Sexual Intercourse

Having sex might work. Semen contains prostaglandins -- natural cervical ripening agents -- that get the cervix "in the mood" for labor.

Orgasms are contractions. If you have one, it might show your uterus what you expect. If nothing else, it's an enjoyable way to pass time as you wait for baby to make an appearance.

Foods to trigger labor

We've found no reliable research that says eating spicy foods will do the job but you may hear women swear by it. They explain that when you eat enough of any spicy food, it affects your intestines and makes the smooth muscles in your gut and your uterus contract. So, they recommend eating spicy foods to get labor started.

Relax! Really...

I confess that I cringed and ducked writing that word but lowering stress might be just the ticket to encouraging your baby's arrival.

Since adrenaline interferes with labor, anything you can do to relax, de-stress, or otherwise take a break helps.

The long list of "guaranteed" labor-starters might not be reliable. We're not sure what magic bullet starts labor. It's probably a combination of physiology, chemistry, astrology, magic and excellent kitchen skills.

In the meantime, you have our permission to glare at anyone who suggests waiting gives you another opportunity to exercise that excellent future parenting tool -- patience.

What do you think about laboring on Labor Day or other special days? Are any of you anxious to have a Labor Day baby?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.