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Seasonal Cycle Wheel

All women, and many men, are aware of the changes that seem to be prevalent with every cycle during the childbearing years.  Of course, men go through their own cycles - and humans in general go through cycles of their life - all with similar feelings as a bigger picture.  The thing most modern cultures don't grasp, however, is the ability to work with their cycle on a day to day basis to not only get the most out of their energy levels - but live a more fulfilling life by not working against their energy levels.  The fact that we have medications that are believed to be a normal part of our biological needs because of discomfort, agitation, depression, bloating, PMS…etc., is a red warning light telling us to pay attention and provide relief.  Let's talk about some ways you might accomplish a more wholesome life by planning around the seasonal changes of your cycles.

First things first - ideally, you would have a 28 day cycle.  The moon has a 28 day cycle.  The earth has a seasonal cycle.  Plants follow their own cycles.  The day follows a cycle.  What is most important is the sun's cycle and its constant influence no matter the season.  Furthermore, of all of these cycles that keep going round and round, we can gather some of the most relatable information if we look at plants for just a moment.

Plants will not put forth their fruit without a certain set of conditions.  If ideal conditions are not met, the fruit will be sour or diseased or smaller, perhaps.  It may take longer to harvest.  Stress of the wind, the water, the pollution and some say even the noise will change growing patterns.  The plant may wither away if it lacks certain nutrients, sunlight, or water.  Plants may bear more than expected fruit or any situation similar to a lack of ideal conditions.  As the sun increases during the spring we see life exponentially growing and as it wanes in the autumn, living things use their energy within instead of forth-giving.  Plants are living things.  We are living things.  We are not elite in the fact that our body can run as intended when it is not in the ideal environment.

How can we live a modern life and still honor the intention of our female nature?

Is it even possible?  That's a topic for another time… so for now let's not focus so much on time length of your current cycle or other therapeutic treatments able to balance your cycle beyond the emotional planning you can do that we'll discuss here.

The above illustration shows the basic phases of the menstrual cycle and how they coincide to what we often refer to as the four seasons.  "Medically" - the new cycle is said to begin with menses (your "period"), so we'll start there - although, secretly - I like to think of the year and my cycle starting with spring.

 

THE FERTILE SEASONS

Menstruation Phase - Winter

Menses - the winter phase - is a sign of fertility.  Although women do typically ovulate and then menstruate following (see why I don't like thinking of this as the beginning?)…  This is a time for that sort of "ahhh" feeling.  Sometimes this is, "ahhh, a new page on my chart."  For others it might be, "ahhh, I'm NOT pregnant."  For others it is a little more inward and lonesome - but exciting because of what you can receive in others' energy after a cycle of giving.

No matter how you like to look at this phase, this is a time for slowing down and reflection.  Your hormones, namely progesterone, are leveling off and you may feel a sense of release… emotionally and physically.  Some may get a surge of energy at this point, but tasks that allow you to rejuvenate are best utilized at this time.

  • Rest & Relax
  • Take time for yourself
  • Take a bath nightly with calming herbs and a soothing menses tea designed to build energy and maintain blood levels.
  • No "must do's"
  • Receive - request - help around the house - with loving friends or family nurturing you
  • Reduce appointments (even if they're pampering)
  • Nurture yourself with positive social connection
  • Eat nourishing bone broth based soups and stews.

 

Follicular Phase - Spring

Who doesn't love spring?  You should be feeling cleansed and rejuvenated by this point.  Your energy is building and now is the time where you feel like taking on new tasks and beginning to give some of your energy again.  This is the time for the "yes I can" phase of your cycle.  You might care how you look, how you feel, and the "what's going on" in the social world attitudes - even if last week, you wanted nothing to do with it.  This phase can fluctuate in length easily with environment (food, stress, sleep…etc.).

What is important here, however, is to not overbook yourself now - or for the rest of your cycle.  You may be feeling great, but you need to plan ahead and remember that your cycle (and environment) may influence your daily tasks.  This phase is best at getting rid of old ways and being ready for something new.  This is the best time for getting started on new tasks, taking on a new project at work or a new job.  You'll feel energized and together.

 

  • Get Creative
  • Design or plan something (hobbies, work projects, vacations, birthday parties…etc.)
  • Plan for the new cycle the goals and achievements you desire
  • Clean house (literally, and emotionally)
  • Get a few "must do" items knocked off your task list to reduce too many later in your phase
  • Meetings are often best experienced in this phase of the cycle
  • Teamwork and female interaction will be most pleasant at this time - schedule activities accordingly
  • Slow cooked foods like sprouted beans, roasts, and long grain or wild rice will help with energy-building after the menses phase.

 

Ovulation Phase - Summer

You are swollen with energy, love, passion, and possibly even a little social envy.  You feel great.  Your cheeks are a little more red and your lips a little more plump.  Your cervical fluid is increasing quickly and becoming a stretchy, clear, highly fertile fluid.

Your individual personality and interests are really going to play a big role during this time.  You may feel a little uneasy if tasks are not going well, but this is the time to take action and make a decision.  Your "yang" energy is at its peak and you're ready to be done with teeter tottering on decisions.

 

  • Make decisions
  • Schedule meetings/appointments requiring your persuasion and input
  • Make a project task list for the luteal phase to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed when you have the energy to get something done at that time
  • Go for a date night (get a babysitter for the kids)
  • Male interaction will be most pleasant at this time - schedule activities accordingly
  • Nourish yourself with healthy fats, meats, and a good balance of light and protein rich foods.  Grilled meats with citrus, and grilled vegetables with an herbal cordial or nourishing fermented beverage will do well this time of your cycle.

 

Luteal Phase - Autumn

Ovulation has passed and progesterone is one the rise preparing for gestation if conception occurred during the ovulation phase.  This phase should always be the same length for you, no matter how long your cycle lasts.

You may feel warmer and more easily agitated though you are ready to get something accomplished.  You want to finish things up and get things in order.

 

  • Work on your tasks list from projects created earlier in your cycle
  • Solicit help for daily tasks and care with children.
  • Individual work is most easily undertaken at this time.
  • Get outside and move with plenty of sunshine.
  • Family fun adventures are great for this phase - something to get out of the house and get some fresh air.
  • Be cautious on bed times so you don't agitate your body with lack of sleep.
  • Say "no" to events, volunteering, and generally too much on the schedule.
  • Nourish yourself with teas and foods that are easily digested and low on heavy carbohydrates. Rice, light wraps/sandwiches, soups and stews will digest well.

DAILY RHYTHM

In addition to each phase of our cycle, we can think about our individual days in similar cycles and consider the way we interact routinely throughout each day and phase while using our morning/spring/planning time to prepare better for the following day.

 

  • Night - Winter - Sleep & Rejuvenation
  • Morning - Spring - Plan & Prepare
  • Afternoon - Summer - Outside, Movement, Outings, & Activity
  • Evening - Autumn - Rest & Finish Tasks

 

The times of these daily tasks will vary with the seasons, but what is most important is to notice the sun's influence on the length of time we have to complete tasks and not over-scheduling activities either during the shorter days of the year where artificial light will further diminish our body's natural sleep cycles nor too much during the longer days when it may feel as though there is all the time in the world and we're soon exhausted from over stimulation.

 

Areas of Fulfillment

Though our energy and our focus will shift throughout the weeks and months, we need to be filled in certain areas regularly to feel whole.  These areas include:

 

  • Spiritual thanks & honor - Everything for His glory and not our own
  • Giving - Doing for someone or something else without expectation of return
  • Receiving - Accepting the energy others desire to provide without expectation of specificity and the allowance for time of relaxation and down time (including reduction of audio and visual input of all kinds)
  • Movement - Physical activity of a varied kind (not "exercise" specifically)
  • Nutrient - Wholesome whole foods of a varied, and seasonal, nature

 

Cycle Seasons Journal Template

There are many journaling methods and planner methods and all are wonderful and great - and obviously the key is to find one that works for you.  You'll find two sheets attached that you can use for a 3-ring binder style journal for now.

cycle seasons journal template

 

The first is a calendar template.  You have a line for the month and a main project task list.  You'll also see a goal wheel where you can add date lengths for each of your cycle phases or the most important tasks to finish during that phase.  Below is a blank template with a column on the left where you can write your phase for that week and blocks to the right for appointments and planning.  In your follicular-spring phase of your cycle, this is the best time to complete this calendar.

[button link="http://www.esalibirth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Seasonal-Cycle-Calendar-Template.pdf" color="default" size="large" style="simple" icon="" icon_pos="left" target="_blank" align="center" lightbox="false"]Download Calendar Template[/button]

 

The next is a daily journal template.  You'll start filling out these entries during the morning-spring time of the day for the following day.  This enables you time to pre-plan a little and get things in order so you can have the remaining part of the day for activities and relaxation - and being careful to avoid the temptation of activity planning in the night/winter phase of the day after the rest of the family is sleeping (and you're likely to be missing sleep of your own in such a case).  You can also fill out any cycle tracking information such as your cervical fluid consistency, the cervical positioning (os), intercourse (and if it was 'protected'), basal body temperature, and any notes specific to your cycle.  Use the 5 blocks underneath to help plan - or journal - the areas of fulfillment that you are planning for the day or experienced during the day.  The bottom section is your reflection space that is great to finish up in the autumn evening time before bed.

[button link="http://www.esalibirth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Seasonal-Cycle-Journal-Template.pdf" color="default" size="large" style="simple" icon="" icon_pos="left" target="_blank" align="center" lightbox="false"]Download Daily Journal Template[/button]

 

As this article comes to its winter time, you just might be feeling a little overwhelmed.  I'm happy to chat with you, of course!  You will also find that as you start thinking about the activities that you plan and the goals you want to achieve with your cycle in mind - this flow will start to come naturally to you and overall you'll be more in tune with your biological intuition.

 

Tell me how you like to honor your female cycle.

Most new childbearing families feel a sense of comfort birthing in the US from a perceived belief that our developed status makes us less prone to less than ideal outcomes.  Reality, however, is not quite so...

What we know:

  • The U.S. has the worst maternal health statistics of ALL developed countries (we rank 61st). Yes, even though we spend more per capita on health care and many [hospital] births are off the charts expensive, all our "knowledge" and technology is not exactly making birth safer.  Home births may be expensive, but relatively they are much lower costs.  Many women find that the cost of home birth is lower than insurance deductibles.  (Although, unfortunately, licensure regulations and increase of promotion for midwifery certification are significantly increasing the cost of home birth to more synonymous with hospital birth).
  • 99% of births are in a Hospital attended by nursing staff focused on a mechanistic view of birth (which developed in the industrial era) through technology rather than putting mom at the center of care, and obstetricians that are not present for labor.  Shouldn't this increase our safety if women are birthing in a hospital believing they are receiving the best care?  That's the thing, it's a perception, not a reality.  While having *access* to these things does improve outcomes for mothers in all cultures, using them as the norm (and their overuse) starts to reduce the safety.  It can be quite difficult to really tell what is happening in labor if someone is only focusing on monitors, "observing" a laboring mother from a completely separate room, or getting feedback from phone conversations.  This does not happen at a typical traditional-midwife-attended home birth.  Quietly knitting in the corner, possibly - but ever listening, observing, and providing calm energy and guidance when necessary.
  • Countries with better health statistics have midwife-attended labors and births with home birth as an accessible option supported by obstetrician.
    Yes, European countries have a model of maternity care that encourages midwives for normal healthy births collaborating with an obstetrician for higher risk births and surgical birth, but the pushing of licensure and the increase of technology-oriented births is not improving their outcomes either.  Only 8% of births are attended by midwives in the US, and many of them have also never seen a home birth but rather learned from Obstetric and medically managed births in birth centers and hospitals.
  • Studies show home birth is as safe as, with less intervention, than hospital birth.  We have to start with the idea that providers actually understand the biology of birth.  If they've never seen a normal non-intervened birth, then they can't adequately compare what is normal and what is managed.  At most home births, a quiet and calm midwife with experience in home birth will watch and let mom do her thing in peace and love with her family.  She may support emotionally, palpate, suggest positions, and listen to heart tones - but she starts with a perspective that birth takes time, nourishment, mobility, and love.  If we go to medicine every time something isn't matching an outdated and limited-study chart, then we're seriously diminishing the birth safety for mothers from the get-go.  Once that first intervention starts, it often snowballs into many others, and sometimes, walking out the front door is that first intervention because moms no longer feel calm and confident.
  • Hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal death. This is true everywhere; but what people don't realize is how much a medically managed birth increases this risk.  Environments that don't support biology such as taking baby away from mom, medications surrounding birth, and anything that decreases oxytocin such as bright lights, noise, chaos, too many people in the birth room, and staff demeanor, will increase adrenaline which is an antagonistic hormone to oxytocin.  Oxytocin is the hormone that contracts the uterus.  A contracting uterus after the birth (which is also increased with baby being skin to skin and nuzzling the breast) clamps down on the capillaries and stops bleeding.  This is only ONE influence, which happens in practically all hospital births, that increases risks of hemorrhage.  Under nourishment is just as prevalent in the US as many other countries... US mothers just happen to feel full when they're malnourished and dehydrated and this malnourishment and dehydration is a significant influence on the function of the muslces and hormones needed to stop bleeding.  Then move to the lack of breastfeeding support in the environment and the providers and the second supporting factor for reducing bleeding is damaged.
  • 10-20% of US women suffer from postpartum depression.  This doesn't cover prenatal depression... but why is this happening?  We've created a culture that believes baby blues are a normal part of postpartum, for one.  Many mothers are expected to feel a bit sad after birth, being told this is a normal symptom of hormone fluctuations.  This is ridiculous.  When a woman is designed to have a flood of happy hormones pour over her throughout birth, immediately after birth at higher levels than orgasm, and every single time she breastfeeds - what in the world would make postpartum such a depressing time?  Let's think about the fact that 42% of women are induced and another 47% are augmented (sped up) both often with synthetic oxytocin (pitocin or syntocinon) which doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier and as such doesn't have the same psychological effects as natural oxytocin.  Let's think about the 99% of women birthing in environments with bright lights, a lot of noise, and often chaos immediately after birth all of which decrease natural oxytocin, not to mention the lack of choosing healthy foods and the lack of access to healthy foods.  Let's think about all those babies whisked away, screaming like crazy, handled like a rag doll, and jammed with all sorts of needles and suction devices and touching people that have no business touching the baby before mom.  Let's think about the majority of hospital birthing women that receive a routine injection of pitocin post-birth to "prevent" postpartum hemorrhage (never mind the fact if the prior labor care was biological, natural oxytocin and immediate bonding/skin to skin could work as it should).  Let's think about all the supplements and pacifiers not only at home, but given away in the hospital to reduce breastfeeding.  Let's think about all the providers that know next to nothing, or completely wrong, breastfeeding information.  Let's think about all the moms that go home and are expected to do it all, even some going back to work in 3-6 weeks before they're ever physically healed, let alone psychologically.  Let's think about all those women that are expected to milk their breasts with a machine instead of having their baby with them as nature designed.  Let's think about the lack of support women have during these stages when other countries literally pamper the mom for 4-6 weeks with food, love, and most of all encouragement to lie with her baby and rest and nurse.  Let's think about what we're causing, not what to expect because we're unwilling to change practices.  Let's think about the 33% of women birthing by cesarean, likely 1/2 of those being preventable through proper care, that have doulas and dads holding their baby on their breast to nurse because they're so medicated and tired they can't hold their arms up.  Let's think about these cesarean birthers that are healing from birth trauma and major surgery that are told, "all that matters is a healthy baby" who are not just suppressed on telling their story, but never routinely counseled to process their birth.  Where is the regular postpartum care for moms, and especially these 33% of women that are healing from major abdominal surgery and birth?  (I love continuing to provide postpartum care to my home birth clients that need to transport).
  • More women are birthing unassisted because of their fear of trauma from birth attendants and hospital policies. While I am among the few that support unassisted birth because I support autonomy and I believe in the body's ability - I am appalled that many women are choosing this not because they feel empowered to do so and are truly at peace with all birth scenarios, but because our maternity system is failing.  It is increasing their fear of harassment, bullying, birth rape, safety for mom and baby, and ultimately parental confidence.

Now, make no mistake - all of this is real and true, but in most communities, we are certainly blessed to have the ability to choose home birth with experienced attendants.  We are seeing more birth advocates in the hospitals and birth centers.  Likewise, the relative risks are overall low in childbirth - not at all like it was when birth first moved into the hospital and providers were increasing risks of birth by causing illnesses simply from not washing their hands and racism.  We've come a long way and have a lot of methods available to us to make birth safer.  The key, however, is to use those methods when needed and not as a form of defensive medicine or out of fear for lack of biological understanding.  There are so many great resources to help you learn more about birth in the US such as www.improvingbirth.org, www.primalhealthresearch.com, and www.childbirthconnection.com.

Feeling confused?  Looking for options?  Seeking the desire to free your mind of birth fear?  Schedule a birth class or doula or home birth consult and let's talk about your situation and your options.  Let's talk about your health to maximize your birth options and let's talk about how to navigate this birth industry for the happiest birth possible because a happy birth is a healthy birth.

Stripping the Membranes

Sweeping the Membranes

Stretch and Sweep

Most of us have heard the terms at one point or another because many moms are induced and this procedure often precedes an induction.  It is designed to stimulate prostaglandins prior to an induction and hopefuly start the dilation process to avoid pitocin or at least make a mom more "ripe" for induction success the following day.  A provider inserts their digits for a vaginal exam and separates the membranes/bag of waters/amniotic sac from the lower portion of the uterus which is known to stimulate prostaglandins.  During a vaginal exam you say?  Yes, they can do this without your consent - without you knowing.  In fact, I know moms that have been told "Oh, by the way, you might experience some bleeding tonight because I stripped your membranes."  Legal?  No...  but who's stopping them?

Prostaglandins, with high levels naturally in semen (in fact, some cervical ripening medications have been derived from the high levels in pig semen), make the cervix more pliable which aids during the dilation process. Moms body will typically make all that is needed - provided she lives a healthy and well balanced lifestyle that allows proper hormone production and body function.  Time, however, is needed during the gestational period as most first time moms birth closer to 42 weeks and most multips also birth after 40 weeks - with wide fluctuations on either side of these numbers.  It is indicated that a longer menstrual cycle is more indicative of a longer gestational length than conception date.

So, is stripping the membranes really necessary?

When moms are recommended for induction, they are often given what is called a Bishop score which looks at various factors such as gestational age, cervical dilation and effacement, number of vaginal births...etc.  A higher Bishop score is connected with higher success for induction... and it is also connected with spontaneous labor happening sooner anyway.  Makes sense, right?  A mom with signs of progression is likely closer to spontaneous birth.  Let's keep in mind a question as well... if mom is in *need* of an induction, is scheduling it for next week the best way to go?  Is the induction actually needed?  Do we know that in many cases the risks of induction are the same as the risks for the situation warranting the induction?  Weigh the pros and cons of waiting vs. the risks of all induction methods (herbal, "natural"...  are any inductions actually natural?, sweeping the membranes, oral/vaginal prostaglandins, breaking the water...etc.).

Also, take a look at Primal Health Research and the studies that indicate because of the risks immediately and long term from pitocin induced births, cesarean often carriers less risk for breastfeeding, bonding, depression, fetal/maternal distress...etc.

In addition to sweeping the membranes, moms are often given some sort of cervical ripening agent either orally or vaginally... or both.  In many cases, this is Cytotec - an ulcer medication which has off-label use for induction... it can also cause uterine rupture and death of the mom and/or baby.  Pitocin also carries these risks in similar rates - but pitocin can be turned down for strength if the uterus seems to be hyper-stimulating (which isn't always measured accurately).  Once Cytotec has been taken orally or given vaginally, that's it - there's no going back - and without proper studies of the medication for this use, we get a wide range of dosages and a wide range of efficacy and experience.  Cytotec is approved for post-birth hemorrhage, however.

While also sweeping the membranes, moms may experience AROM or PROM - Artificial/Premature Rupture of the Membranes.  While ROM may happen spontaneously at home in a low percentage of moms giving them time to monitor their health while waiting - when you're in the hospital and with most medical care providers, that's it - your labor clock has started.  There's no going home now or waiting things out.  You often receive an IV and antibiotics because of the now increased risks for infection.  And while home birthing women have experienced their water breaking and then sealing, this doesn't happen in a hospital birth.  You're either waiting a few hours for labor to begin on its own, or provided with augmentation to get labor contractions started.

Some moms say, "I don't have another option."

There are ALWAYS options.  Not feeling comfortable with one of your options is a different story altogether.  Explore that.  Why are you afraid of the alternative?  What can you do (especially if you're TTC or early in pregnancy) to prevent those fears from limiting the choices you're comfortable with?  What is available to provide you with the knowledge and skill needed to overcome those fears?

Some moms say, "My provider is forcing me."  In some shape or form, they're being coerced and often in a negative/controlling/fear-tactic sort of way.

Woah!  This is a CLEAR indication that your provider doesn't understand birth at all.  We'll get to this more in a minute... but how on earth can you TRUST a provider that has to use fear tactics to make you submit to their will?  If the provider is recommending the best for you and wants you to have the best experience, why are they incapable of providing the evidence and the love that makes you comfortable with their choice?

One thing to remember is that you have rights and can refuse any recommendation. In most cases (not saying it hasn't happened before) - they're not going to hold your arm down, stick an IV in it, and give her pit without her consent... whether forced or coerced - she still gives consent.  Why, yes, they can strip your membranes without your knowledge - if you're not accepting vaginal exams, this is not possible. This leads us to another question.  Are vaginal exams necessary?  Well, for thousands of years babies came without vaginal exams.  Babies, with some providers, are still coming out without vaginal exams.  Ask "why do you need to do that?"  Ask "what information might you learn that would change how we approach labor and birth?"

If you're not comfortable with your alternatives for care and location, you could take a lawyer to an appointment with you and a copy of A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth (not saying that's 100% accurate as studies have flaws... but you can at least look up the studies that your provider is *supposed* to be following as you're in your appointment). Unfortunately the fear that surrounds women is often the "I can't switch" reason vs. the actual inability to switch providers. They fear home birth more than they fear pitocin. They fear unassisted birth more than they fear the years of unknown ahead from what an induced birth can cause. They are not educated on unassisted birth from their provider or birth class, so they're still assuming the worst and thinking their situation - regardless of induction method - is still the saf"ER" route.

Let's look at this for just a moment.

Home Birth

Stripping the Membranes

Natural level of prostaglandins

Little to no vaginal exams

Bacterial presence from the home

ROM typically occurs during birthing stage or shortly after

Patience

Higher - in comparison to hospital birth - level of spontaneous and non-augmented birth

Higher - in comparison to hospital birth - level of vaginal birth

Increased Prostaglandins

Increased Vaginal Exams

Increased risk for infection (albeit, studies show negligible)

Increased risk for Premature Rupture of the Membranes (now studies show the risk of infection is no longer negligible)

Decreased "labor clock"

Increased risk for Pitocin & decreased level of spontaneous birth

Increased risk for cesarean

Now, let's think about home birth vs. induction.  Induction doubles the risks of cesarean, increases pain significantly, increases epidurals (and those risks), increases uterine rupture and mother/baby death, increases PPH.... and home birth increases spontaneous vaginal birth, breastfeeding rates, decreases postpartum mood disorders, and reduces all interventions.  This doesn't even cover the comparison to unassisted birth.

There are a variety of risks with stripping and all that goes with it (like moms getting cytotec slipped in without consent - not to mention the risks of infection... which I would think a provider would be more cautious about if a mom were GBS+... but that's another reason antibiotics are given to all GBS+ moms because they can practice invasive without a second thought... or so they think and now new generations believe).

So what is a mother to do?  What about those moms that really have been encouraged so much by our culture to believe intervention is safer than the alternatives?

I focus on WHY moms might not be moving into spontaneous labor ON TOP OF the fact that most 1st time moms birth closer to 42 weeks. Additionally, moms with longer menstrual cycles tend to gestate longer as well.  These are averages that we know IN ADDITION TO every mom and baby needing different things... like time...

What I also remind moms is they need to get their head out of the game.  Relax, de-stress, unwind, and stop thinking about a birth date.  Stop thinking about what someone is going to recommend to you.  Stop thinking about the birth.  Stop thinking about work.  Stop thinking about that misinformed person that keeps asking you "if they're going to let you go past ____ weeks."  Stop thinking and just ENJOY.

Stripping the membranes might increase prostaglandins and a Bishop score, but this is letting the tail wag the dog!  Dilation... rather, labor progression is much more about an efficient uterus than it is about a ripe cervix - and we all know what causes an efficient uterus, don't we?

OYTOCIN

Let's think about how to increase oxytocin.  Let's think about how to create uterine efficiency.  You have all the makings, you just need to put it together.

"Oops, I'm so sorry, I can't make it to my appointment today - I'm out of town. I need to reschedule." (Yes, even when you're 41+ weeks).  Call after hours when you can leave a message even, then turn off your phone.  I am not encouraging a relationship with your provider that doesn't involve complete trust, but I do want you to think about what your body actually needs and how you can be a decision making factor in this process.  Then, book a cabin in the woods (semi close to the birth place so driving doesn't hinder you should labor begin) and stay there until your oxytocin levels are now able to rise because adrenaline decreased. Take all the spa treatments, bubble baths, walks on the trails with a camera....etc.  Can't get away?  No problem - do it at home in your back yard, in the park... anywhere that feels relaxing to you.  All these things increase oxytocin and decrease adrenaline. 

While adrenaline is a handy dandy survival hormone that tells us "Nope, not safe to have a baby here/now" - it does so because it is also antagonistic to oxytocin.  So, if you want labor to increase, you need to think happy thoughts and fly away to labor labor land.  Need a little pixie dust to give you a boost during pregnancy/labor?  Ask the oxytocin fairy (i.e. doula).  All these factors work just the same in labor as they do prior to labor.. as the last weeks of pregnancy are really a continuum and not a separation of here is pregnancy, and here is labor.  It's a circle that completes with breastfeeding and starts the process over again.

 

Additionally, work with posture, stretching (the hamstrings and abdomen especially), and abdominal tone all throughout pregnancy.  It is never too late to start.  Tight hamstrings cause a tight back which causes discomfort (decreased oxytocin) and also less ability for the pelvis to flex and allow room for baby. Yoga, Pilates, walking, hiking, swimming, pelvic rocks, tailor sitting, stand up desks, birth balls... all these things that strengthen the body, especially the muscles that support the uterus and pelvis, and support baby's position.  A baby in a funky position with a poorly supported uterus might need some hands on techniques - like spinning babies - to get them into a position where labor will progress further.  Stress and position are a key factor in prodromal labor.  These are all techniques that support the body's natural ability - not "what can I do to self-induce."  Belly dancing is AMAZING for pregnancy/birth. It gets baby into position, it stretches the ligaments, and it just feels amazing. This is what belly dancing's original purpose was - and now there are even birth classes surrounding the idea... but really just some big swirls of the hips and figure 8s with the pelvis are great.

Last, but not least, are you receiving proper nourishment?  Are you getting all your B vitamins, all your minerals like calcium and magnesium, enough sunlight (i.e. natural Vitamin D) for dopamine production which supports oxytocin?  If you're not sleeping well, I'd say you might need to get up and exercise a bit in the sunshine.  All of the necessary nutrients for proper body function can be found in a healthy balanced diet of colorful vegetables (lightly steamed, of course), and healthy food choices.  Dark greens are often a big factor for the modern to THRIVE and work at its optimal level.  A glass of equal parts nettles and Red Raspberry Leaf (a few pinches of each steeped for 3-5 minutes) is a great daily tonic tea that provides nourishment throughout the body.  It is great warm, it is great iced, it is great unsweetened.  If you want it sweetened, though, add a *pinch* of whole leaf stevia - or at most use a smidge of honey.  This is not an encouragement for using these as induction agents!  This isn't even a medicinal dose anyway, just a regular tonic (toning, nourishing) dose in addition to all your tonic foods.  This is encouraging you to make sure you and your baby are receiving adequate nourishment for proper body function.

Your body is amazing.  It was MADE to birth.  When interventions are recommend, only you can decide if this is something you want for your baby and yourself.  Looking at it from a logical perspective, however, often helps us to move the fear tactics aside and get down to the root and not put the cart before the horse.

Blessings on your journey!

Make choices that support your birth. If you want to be treated like you’re at home, then stay home. If you want medical support, go to the hospital. If you want a biological birth, don’t hire anyone to “take care of you and give you suggestions.”

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