Sarah: I can hardly believe that you're already 31 weeks! Then again, it's hard to believe that I'm right at the end. Time flies. I'm so glad that you're getting yourself fully prepared. A huge factor in a peaceful, incident free birth is being confidant. It's good that you're doing everything you can to get to that place.
Sarcy: Bring on the questions as you think of them!
Alicia: Yes, there are things that you can do to encourage labor herbally. There is some controversy over whether any herbal stimulation should be used at all, or if the baby should just be left to decide when is the right time to enter the world.
The argument against it says that since so much depends on the baby (flexing it's head and moving down through the pelvic bones, shifting it's body into optimal position), that encouraging it to come out early can just make for a longer, more painful labor for the mother, and the unprepared baby can experience more stress.
The argument for it suggests that since herbal methods are being used, it's gentle enough that your body and the baby can decide whether or not labor will start, and the worst that can happen is that you will just be very uncomfortable with the side effects (more time spent on the toilet, etc.) with no results.
Personally, I feel that a balance is preferable. If the midwife and mother have consulted together and have determined that the mother's body is probably ready to go into labor, but it seems that a little extra "nudge" in the right direction might be productive, then I'm all for it. I have never done anything besides taking extra walks uphill and such, but if I were ever to go past my due date, I'd consider trying something a bit stronger.
Here is the "natural inducing" method that my midwife in the states suggested to me. (Remember that anything you do should be cleared with your midwife or doctor first!)
Nature’s Sunshine brand “Mastergland”: take 2 capsules every 1/2 hour
Castor oil: take 1 Tablespoon every other hour, up to 4 doses per day
This will not force you into labor, but it will work with your body, and if the baby is in the correct position, etc. you will probably go into labor.
Try this starting in the morning. If you are not in labor by the 4th dose of Castor oil, stop taking the Mastergland as well and try again another day.
There is also the suppository method where you use a capsule or two of Evening Primrose oil, but I can't remember that one exactly. It also involves Black Cohosh, but once again I can't remember which. That helps ripen the cervix and can get things going.
There are some more suggestions I found online here that sound helpful.
On Sunday, we went to Burg Lichtenburg. We're attempting to get out and do stuff with my family as much as possible before the baby comes and puts a damper on my energy levels. (Not that I'll mind -- I am ready whenever he/she is, let me tell you.)
Everyone trekked around the castle grounds and climbed on the ruins.
Rachel and Joel proved themselves to be the little monkeys that we thought they'd be.
Rachel got up one ledge that wasn't all that high, but of course Joel had to push on a little further. For whatever reason, my mom thought this was a fine idea, and even offered her head as a stepping stone. (Surprisingly enough, this proved to be a less than good idea when her head snapped sideways a bit.)
He got up pretty high, and then decided that he'd proved himself enough. We agreed. He made it back down, and we gave him a good cheer.
For more pics from that day, click here for the whole gallery.