- Women's Health
Nautrally Induce Labor
When women reach the last month of pregnancy the biggest question is "When am I going to go into labor?" Well for those who would like to naturally induce labor without having medical intervention such as Pitocin or dilation in the hospital, please read on. A caveate to all these methods is that they will not work if your body is not ready to go into labor. You can seriously try until you're blue in the face and you will not go into labor. Remember that not all of these methods are 100% proven to work and some are downright bizarre.I found also having my Snoogle pregnancy pillow with me during the early stages with both my labors and it helped greatly for my pain due to discomfort of position.
1. Sexual Intercourse
I have heard mixed feelings on if this will jump start labor. With my first, I went into labor within five hours of making love with my husband. The reason this might start labor is sperm naturally contains prostaglandins which softens the cervix and ripens it for delivery. If the cervix isn't ripe it will not dilate. Another reason is that the action of "poking around" is effectively doing the exact same thing as when an OB strips the membranes. Last but certainly not least is a woman's orgasm releases Oxytocin which is the natural form of Pitocin the drug that is commonly used to medically induce labor and this starts contractions.
2. Spicy Food
Many people who find out that I am 39 weeks pregnant always suggest that I eat spicy food. This is the most common suggestion that I have heard from a number of sources but according to Donna Engelgau of Discovery Health, this is a myth and with me all it did was cause is heartburn and indigestion. Some women actually see this spicy food in a less than appetizing light the second time around if they get sick during labor.
3. Exercise Ball
Sitting on an exercise ball and rocking back and forth can help move the baby into a better position to start labor. Many midwives suggest this as an easy method to move labor along during the early stages. This action helps move the baby down into proper station for birth (positive + 2).
4. Castor Oil (the vegetable oil variant NOT the one in the automotive section)
This method has mixed experiences as to if it works or not. The biggest thing is does do is clear your digestive track out and cause diarrhea and misery. There are some individuals that insist up and down that this works but out of 85 women I know only 5 have gone into labor within several hours of completing a two dose regime.
For decades, women have been using castor oil to help induce labor. In fact, many old school physicians and midwives swear by it. It can provide good results if you are already in early labor. It is believed to work by causing spasms in the intestines, which surround the uterus toward the end of pregnancy. These spasms, in turn, cause the uterus to cramp, which might result in labor.
You can take 1 to 4 ounces of castor oil mixed with 6 ounces of orange juice to cut its oiliness. You'll want to drink it quickly because of the unpleasant taste. Some practitioners suggest taking a single dose; others suggest repeated doses depending on your response. Keep in mind that castor oil usually will cause your bowels to empty within about three hours. With luck, soon after that, you will be in true labor.
5. Walking lopsided
I know this one sounds funny but several swear by it that walking lopsided or curb walking has sent them into labor within 24 hours. The theory is the same as with the Exercise Ball where movement causes the baby to move down into position. The way you do this method is to walk with one foot on the top of the curb and the other in the gutter of the street and take a walk this way.
6. Kegel exercises while propped with feet on wall
The Kegel exercises are used to tighten and tone the pelvic shelf. The way you perform these are to simply tighten and relax the muscles used to control the start and stop of urine and bowel movements. The way to do this is to put your feet flat against the wall as far apart as you can and do 100 Kegels in this position. Once the set is complete, move your feet further apart and repeat Kegel set. Do this until you have contractions that are steady. This is not proven but doing Kegels will tone the pelvic region and help in labor.
This is a tried and true method that helps move labor along. It's recommended that every pregnant woman in early labor walk for as long as they can stand it to progress labor into the transition stage. Remember every trip to the fridge and bathroom makes you one step closer to having the baby.
8. Mowing the lawn
Ok I know this one sounds like a man suggested it in order to get pregnant women to "pull their weight" around the yard work. I tried this with my most recent addition after I was 40 weeks and 6 days and not having any signs of going into labor except for five false starts and useless trips to the Labor and Delivery ward just to do the "waddle of shame" back out. I tried out our nifty new Craftsman Self Propelled lawn mower on our front lawn and allowed it to do most of the work and I just guided it around the trees and bushes. The only time I had to work with it was to turn it back around to go the other way. Now we have two different lawn mowers and by far this Craftsman one weighs a good 20lbs more than our dinky old one so I was lifting the entire engine and blades off the ground in order to turn it because once the mower is facing one way it is a pain to get it turned around. I mowed the grass at about 9:00pm the night prior and by 6:30am I couldn't deny that I was in full blown active labor (the type that makes you bend over and cry out).
This is not meaning that you have to be poked with dozens of needles in order to start labor. In this method, pressure point are used to start labor. Either a trained professional or even your birthing partner can do this technique. There are charts as to the known pressure points found all over the internet.
10. Chiropractic Adjustment
A chiropractor with certification in treating pregnant and pediatric patients can provide mothers with immense relief throughout one's pregnancy. Gentle techniques exist to help with these biomechanical changes, and several studies have shown that regular chiropractic care during pregnancy can shorten labor time from 24% - 39%. I had chiropractic adjustments regularly when I was pregnant with my first and had an adjustment two days prior to my water breaking at home.
11. Nipple Stimulation
Some women massage their nipples as a way to induce labor. This stimulation brings about the release of oxytocin, which is the natural form of pitocin. Oxytocin causes contractions, which sometimes evolve into labor.
Most practitioners are not enthusiastic about this method of inducing labor, because it has been known to lead to excessively long, strong uterine contractions sometimes resulting in fetal heart rate slowing. Unless your practitioner advises it and is monitoring your progress closely, nipple stimulation is not recommended as a means for beginning labor.
12. Stripping the Membranes
Your practitioner may offer to "strip your membranes" to help start your labor. This procedure usually feels like a vaginal examination, although it sometimes can be painful or cause cramping. The practitioner places her gloved finger through the cervix and sweeps the amniotic membranes free of their attachment to the lower part of the uterine cavity. This process is believed to release hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which help to ready your body for labor. When I had my membranes stripped while pregnant with my second child, it took less than 30 seconds to accomplish. My practitioner checked me for dilation and effacement and stripped (or swept) my membranes at my 39 and 40 week appointments.
While some experts believe that stripping the membranes causes you to go into labor that day, the only research on this procedure was done by a group of midwives who stripped the membranes of a group of their patients at every visit to the office after 38 weeks gestation. Their findings showed that patients who had this procedure were less likely to go past their due dates. According to the study, the procedure didn't seem to pose any complications and didn't cause the patients' waters to break.
Even though your practitioner would be the one to do the procedure (vs. the other methods that can be done by you at home), I include it here because it is a non-medical intervention that does not require medicine to start the labor.
13. Herbs that help labor
Blue and black cohosh These herbs are used often to induce labor. They may be particularly effective if you are having weak or irregular contractions. Blue cohosh is believed to make uterine contractions stronger, while black cohosh may regulate the contractions. Together, they work to make contractions more effective. Unfortunately, no studies have determined that these natural treatments are safe, or whether all versions of the herb available for purchase are of equal potency. Be sure to discuss any herbal treatment with your practitioner before attempting it, to see if it is a good idea in your situation.
EPO - Evening Primrose Oil - A variety of herbs are touted as useful for labor induction, but there isn't enough evidence to prove that any of them are both safe and effective. Some are risky because they can overstimulate your uterus and may be unsafe for your baby for other reasons as well.