The joys of a warm cup of coffee are hard to beat. The aroma, the flavor!
If you're pregnant though, you may not have indulged in a while as many doctors recommend limiting caffeine while pregnant. This is because it can have unwanted side effects for you and your baby.
If you've come to term, though, you may be looking for ways to get that baby out of there! In that case, you'll want to know about the science behind drinking caffeine to induce labor before you try it out on yourself.
It's likely true that caffeine can bring on early labor if you're drinking too much in your third trimester. However, it's not really something you want to try to induce labor, particularly before you're full-term.
Rather than being a benefit, inducing early labor is considered a potentially bad side effect of caffeine. The effects of trying to induce labor this way haven't been studied enough, so you don't know what kind of damage you could be doing to your baby by drinking larger amounts of coffee.
In fact, some studies link high caffeine intake in the third trimester with smaller babies, meaning the caffeine may delay growth.
The Steaming Pot
You may laugh at this one, and for good reason! It does sound more than a little silly, but women are actually trying it. Basically, some women recommend squatting over a steaming pot of coffee for 20 minutes.
In theory, the idea is the coffee steam will help release the mucus plug. In turn, labor may begin. However, while many women claim this method works, doctors do not recommend it. You can easily burn yourself with steam, and using this method could even lead to a nasty infection.
Wait It Out When Possible
The long and short of it is, waiting out your pregnancy is always the best option. Your baby's last few weeks inside your womb are critical for their development, and trying to shorten that won't do them any favors. In fact, you should never try to induce labor before 39 weeks. Let your baby come when they're ready to come out, and you'll have a happier, healthier baby to thank for it.
While you're waiting for your bundle of joy to come, spend some time on self-care and preparation. Make sure everything is in place for the baby and that you're ready to bring them home from the hospital. Then, spend some time on you! Try taking a bubble bath, for instance, or pick up your favorite novel.
Also try to enjoy some caffeine-free tea with a friend, or simply go out for a nice dinner. You may not have much time to yourself in the coming months, so now is a good time to rest and relax. Plus, the happier and more relaxed you are, the happier your baby will be.
Why You Should Avoid Caffeine While Pregnant
Your doctor likely has multiple reasons for telling you to avoid caffeine while pregnant. For one, the caffeine in coffee is a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more often. In turn, that can lead to dehydration, which isn't great while you're pregnant. More importantly, as a stimulant, coffee can make your blood pressure go up. It can also cause an uptick in your heart rate. Neither of these things is good for you or the baby while pregnant.
In addition, caffeine passes to your growing baby. While that might not seem like a big deal, your baby can't deal with the amount of caffeine your adult body can. Your baby's little body just can't break down the caffeine at the same rate as yours can, and it can stunt development and affect your baby's sleeping patterns. Unsurprisingly, it can affect your baby's heart rate, too, particularly when you're in your third trimester.
That's not to say you have to give up coffee altogether. Most experts agree that drinking less than 300 milligrams of coffee a day while pregnant is safe, which is the equivalent of about 3 8-ounce cups of coffee.
Keep in mind, though, that many mugs hold more than 8 ounces, so pay attention to how much caffeine you're actually consuming. Also, coffee may not be the only source of caffeine in your diet. Chocolate, energy drinks, some teas, and soda all contain caffeine, for instance. Read labels or look your food up on the internet to ensure you're not going over the 300-milligram mark.
Ways to Induce Labor
As noted, the best thing to do for your baby is to wait it out! The extra time spent in the womb is really important for your baby's development. However, if you're past 39 weeks and your doctor gives you the go-ahead, one method has some scientific backing: breast stimulation. When your breasts or nipples are massaged, your body likely releases oxytocin, which may bring on labor more quickly. However, this method does require some dedication, as you should do it as much as 3 hours each day.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you're having severe side effects from pregnancy or you feel like you need to induce, the best thing is to talk to your doctor. If you are having health problems, they may feel it's prudent to induce early for your health and the health of the baby.
Keep in mind, though, that even if you are uncomfortable, that may not be reason enough to induce labor. The reason for birthing a baby early must be pretty compelling; usually, it must be something life-threatening to induce before the 39-week mark.
Still, whatever your concerns are, it's always best to talk to your doctor, especially if you're going to try out any home remedies for inducing. If you're past 39 weeks, they'll be more open to the idea of inducing, so it's a more likely option then. Your doctor can medically induce you at the hospital, which is safer than trying to do it yourself at home.