Naturally inducing labour is safe as long as you don’t consider trying to begin your labour until you are around 40 weeks pregnant or overdue.
Your due date could be inaccurate by a few weeks, and if you start your labour before 40 weeks, you might give birth to the baby before s/he is ready to thrive outside the womb.
Several things can be done that might make you have contractions and start your labour, but they’ll only work if your body is ready. If your body isn’t prepared to go into labor, you can try as much as your heart desires, but you will only frustrate yourself.
Use caution when trying any of these natural methods to begin your labour, particularly herbs and nipple stimulation. The uterus can become hyperstimulated, meaning that it’ll get too little rest between contractions. This can cause the baby to receive less oxygen, resulting in fetal heart rate slowing. Before trying any of these techniques, you should discuss them with your practitioner.
Labor will not begin if you’re tense, worried or trying hard to start labor. Try a warm (not hot) bath. Get a professional massage with the only goal being relaxation. Acupuncture and acupressure, because of the focus on key areas of the body, have also helped inspire labor. In addition, some women rely on aromatherapy, specifically the soothing scent of clary sage, to relax.
Try to do something special for yourself every day-especially if you’re past your due date. Get a manicure, try dinner out at a new restaurant, see a favorite movie or go out for ice cream with your partner.
If you are having contractions but are not yet in labour, walking can help get things going. Walking allows your hips to sway side to side, which will help bring the baby into position to be born. Also, by standing upright, you’re using gravity to move the baby down into the pelvis. Another plus: It usually feels good to walk when you are contracting. And of course, even if you don’t go into full-blown labour, at least you’re getting some exercise.
Sex is the most well-known trick to begin labour. Semen has natural prostaglandins–a hormone involved in the start of labor. If you use this technique, don’t get up right away and elevate your hips to help the semen stay on the cervix. This will help to thin and dilate it.
However, in late pregnancy, many women are not in the mood for intercourse. Simple loving activities that are part of your normal foreplay can help, too. Female orgasm has been known to open the cervix up to two centimetres. You can also ask your partner to gently stimulate your nipples, or heat up a towel in the dryer for a minute or two and place it over your breasts. This prompts the release of oxytocin. Do not do this constantly, however. For some women, contractions started within 20 minutes of doing this. If a half hour or so goes by, stop and maybe try it again another day.
Castor oil, evening primrose oil, or blue and black cohosh can be used to begin labor, but proceed with caution. These supplements have side effects and possible complications. There are concerns about castor oil, which is primarily a strong laxative. While bowel spasms may cause contractions, they may also do nothing more than, well, stimulate the bowel of both you and baby.
The most common application of evening primrose oil is directly on the cervix, not on the belly. Like other lotions and oils, there’s no telling what reaction your body will have externally, much less internally. Since pregnancy can cause adverse reactions to the most common things, this may not be the best choice.
There are few medical studies to support the safe and guided use of blue and black cohash, and finding an herbal professional experienced in the application is rare. If you’d like to integrate alternative therapy into your health care, it’s advisable to check with your health care provider and an herbal professional before using these or any supplements to discuss pros and cons and determine the correct dosages.
Some people swear that it was that extra-hot enchilada from their favorite Mexican restaurant that brought them face to face with their new baby. Unfortunately, the statistics are out on this one. You could try it, but if you have a full stomach when you are in labour, you might vomit and see that enchilada again–in less-than-appetizing circumstances.
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 labour, 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.