Natural Labor Induction Methods
Having Your Baby
|Home Remedy Myths
If you are trying to avoid labor induction by medical means, and you have passed your pregnancy due date, there are some home remedies to consider first. Firstly however, let’s dispel some of the old wives tales and myths associated with inducing labor. There is no evidence that any of the following methods will do anything to speed up labor:
1. Driving and bouncing around on a windy, bumpy road. The only thing you are likely to do is cause damage to the car! Or bring back bouts of morning sickness!
So What Remedies Do Work?
Studies are conflicting on the benefits of sexual intercourse while pregnant to induce labor. The theory is, because semen contains prostaglandins (the hormones which promote cervix dilation and uterine contractions), it will be beneficial to the onset of labor. Also there are suggestions that regular intercourse in the third trimester of pregnancy lowers the risk of an induction being necessary if you pass your due date. Additionally, when a woman orgasms she naturally produces Oxytocin, the labor inducing hormone.
Often recommended by midwives, nipple stimulation can result in the production of Oxytocin. This method requires plenty of patience. You need to massage each nipple, including the areola (the dark skin around the nipple) for 15 minutes at a time, continually, over several hours. Although there is no conclusive evidence, studies show that women who practice nipple stimulation are more likely to go into labor within 72 hours than those who do not. However some women report that contractions are stronger than previous pregnancies where no stimulation was applied. You should avoid this method if your doctor has recommended pelvic rest.
In China acupuncture is sometimes used to induce labor. Needles are inserted and attached to an electro-muscle stimulator. Although not necessarily as effective as medical methods, acupuncture is less invasive and far more natural. In the West, some obstetricians also recommend the use of acupuncture claiming that one treatment with a practitioner is all that is necessary to induce labor (within 8 to 48 hours). One study in Australia claimed acupuncture had an 88 percent success rate with overdue women. Labor should only be induced with acupuncture when you are overdue. Always check with your pregnancy healthcare team before trying any 'home remedy’ induction.
Applying pressure to certain points on the body can not only help to induce labor, but can also help relieve pain during labor (allowing for a natural birth, and dispensing the need for an epidural pain relief). There are many acupressure points, one of which is the web area between your thumb and forefinger. This area has a dull achy feeling when located correctly. Using a circular motion, press the area for 30-60 seconds at a time. This pressure point should be used with caution during pregnancy. Another point is just above the Achilles tendon (the external ankle bone). Good birthing centers can advise you on these methods.
There has been much debate over the effectiveness of castor oil. Taken either by drinking or rubbing it to the skin, castor oil is said to bring about labor contractions by stimulating bowel movements. The movement may irritate the uterus into beginning contractions. However accurate (or not) this may be, the side effects can be unpleasant, such as nausea and bouts of diarrhea. One risk associated with diarrhea is dehydration, which is not healthy when approaching labor as fluid intake may be restricted.
Natural herbs, such as black cohosh, blue cohosh, caulophyllum and evening primrose oil have long been used to help women induce labor. However, always avoid any herbal or homeopathic remedies during pregnancy without consulting your doctor first. If you are planning a home birth, you may want to discuss the options with your midwife.
Stay active and exercise at least 30 minutes a day throughout your pregnancy. Medical Research indicates that healthy women who take regular exercise are less likely to need an induction of labor. See also, caring for your body throughout the three trimesters: Prenatal Care Guide.
If your water breaks before labor begins, ask your doctor for time to go into labor on your own. Nearly 90% of women will go into labor within 2 days of their water breaking. There is no need to rush labor unless mother or baby is in danger or there are signs of an infection. Follow your doctor’s advice for reducing risks of possible infections.
Don't be talked into an induced labor without a good medical reason. Some private OB/GYNS have a long list of women on their books, and naturally it would be more convenient if labor could be scheduled. Be aware that a large baby is not an actual medical reason for having an induction. According the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists induction for large babies do not improve delivery and childbirth outcomes for babies BUT almost double the risk of a mother needing a c-section delivery.
If labor induction is planned for non-emergency medical reasons or because you are getting close to 42 weeks (defined as postmaturity), discuss alternative options with your doctor.
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