As you approach your due date, you may begin researching ways to induce labor naturally at home. But before you attempt any of these methods yourself, it’s important to ask if any of them actually work and, more importantly, if they’re safe.
While you should never attempt to induce labor on your own without specific advice or guidance from your healthcare provider, there is no harm in looking to natural induction methods and sorting out the old wives’ tales from scientifically based options.
None of the methods mentioned in this article are guaranteed to start contractions or get labor rolling; however, consider this your initial guide to labor induction. Read on to discover the ins and outs of naturally inducing labor!
Gentle exercise is an excellent way to stay in shape while pregnant; it can also be a natural and healthy way to start labor. Walking, and especially curb walking, can cause your cervix to dilate, and help the baby descend into the designated head down position.
There is scientific evidence that walking pushes the baby further into the mother’s pelvis; however, there is no proof that walking will speed up labor once it has begun.
Yoga and birthing ball exercises are other exercises that could bring about the induction of labor. During the third trimester, try incorporating yoga and gentle stretching into your daily routine.
Not only can it help induce labor, but it can alsoprovide helpful breathing techniques once active labor settles in. It is also known to help ease common pains and discomfort faced in the final weeks of pregnancy, like back pain, leg cramps, and sciatica.
Some say that specialized prenatal massages may also start uterine contractions. Some massage therapists swear by specialized pressure points that can bring on contractions or move your labor along.
Massages can also release oxytocin, the natural hormone that signals the body to begin contractions. Oxytocin is the natural version of the synthetic hormone Pitocin, which is used to induce labor in the hospital.
When it comes to natural methods to induce labor, relaxing while receiving a massage may be one of the most pleasant ways to get things going!
A warm bath is a wonderful way to relax and reduce stress when pregnant. In addition, warm water can reduce some side effects of pregnancy like sore feet, back pain, and pelvic pressure.
However, to avoid infection you should not take a bath or submerge yourself in water once your amniotic sack or water has broken unless under the supervision of a doula, midwife, or health care provider during a water birth.
Relaxation releases oxytocin which is a natural way to bring about the induction of labor.
Sexual intercourse is a natural way to bring on labor. The only limitations are that your water hasn’t broken and that you have been given the OK for intercourse by your ob/gyn.
Snuggling, kissing, and sex all increase your body’s production and release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is sometimes called the “love hormone” and, when released, signals a pregnant woman’s body to start contractions.
Additionally, semen contains prostaglandins that can help ripen and soften the cervix.
Of course, whether or not you have the energy for love-making in the final weeks of pregnancy may make this method of induction more or less appealing to some.
Evening Primrose Oil & Other Natural Remedies
Some women promote the wonders of using evening primrose oil prior to giving birth. Midwives often prescribe evening primrose oil as a way to promote cervical ripening. However, women with placenta previa, a condition where the placenta covers the cervical opening, are advised not to use evening primrose oil.
Other natural supplements thought to bring about the induction of labor are red raspberry leaf tea and black cohosh. Black cohosh is an herb that can cause uterine contractions. On the other hand, very little research has been performed in the field of obstetrics concerning the safety of using the herb, and therefore caution is advised.
Before using any supplement or herb, you should seek medical advice from your healthcare provider.
Castor oil is a method of labor induction that women have been passing down for generations. Castor oil is a strong, unpleasant-tasting laxative that can stimulate your bowels and, in turn, cause contractions.
Technically an old wives’ tale, castor oil is not considered a safe or healthy way to induce labor. You are more likely to come down with a bad case of diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting than to induce labor when using castor oil, and you could even make yourself dangerously dehydrated.
Spicy food is another method of inducing labor that can be categorized as an old wives’ tale, although you will find some women who swear by it! Eating spicy food probably won’t bring about spontaneous labor; however, it could stimulate your bowels, like castor oil and create contractions.
If you are full-term and enjoy eating spicy foods, there is little danger in enjoying a flavorful meal. But beware– while spicy food isn’t proven to induce labor, it is known to induce a bad case of heartburn.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Like massages, acupuncture and acupressure are considered natural ways to stimulate uterine contractions and bring on labor. Both methods have been used for centuries for various medical conditions; however, like other self-induction methods, it is best to get your doctor’s approval first.
But, if you’ve already had a membrane stripping, are experiencing some dilation, and are past your due date, adding an acupuncture session with a licensed prenatal therapist to your birth plan probably couldn’t hurt.
Odd as it may sound, nipple stimulation is another way to bring about labor. Like sexual intercourse, nipple stimulation releases oxytocin which can begin labor. You can self-stimulate using your fingers, a breast pump, or have your partner help out.
Some medical professionals advise against nipple stimulation because it can potentially lower the fetal heart rate by producing long and powerful contractions.
In the weeks leading up to your baby’s birth, the idea of inducing labor becomes more and more attractive to some parents-to-be; and understandably so. The weeks before your baby’s birth are an exciting time; the days and weeks seem endless, and each day it may feel like your belly cannot possibly get any bigger!
So as you pass the time leading up to your due date, take some quiet moments to relax in a comfortable spot, read up and refresh on new parenting tips, and look into any natural induction methods that may interest you.
Always consult with your practitioner before attempting to induce labor naturally, and remember patience is vital; your baby will arrive when both they and your body are ready for the big day!