Ways to (hopefully!) induce labor naturally

You are approaching your due date (or maybe way past it!) and you are ready to meet your baby!! Mama, I know how you feel…I went 42+ days with both of my kids! You want to get labor started but would like to avoid a medical induction if possible, so what’s a girl to do?!

First, you should always discuss with your doctor or midwife before you think about trying to bring on labor. Second, and this is a big one…. unless your body and baby are ready, these methods are not likely to be successful. (Sorry, I know that’s not what you want to hear!) That being said, there are a few things that you can try to bring on labor and many women swear by these methods!

Make LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

I know this can be tough when you are nearing the end of pregnancy! But having sex may help in numerous ways to get labor going and it probably has the most science behind it, although it needs to be studied further. This works in 3 ways. First, creating intimate connections with your partner releases oxytocin and helps us relax. Next, orgasm and nipple stimulation can cause the uterus to contract; it is thought this could also contribute to an on start of labor. Lastly, the deposit of semen in the vagina can help the cervix soften due to the prostaglandins it contains. An added benefit is the special moments created between you and your partner before your baby is born! 

Castor Oil or Spicy Foods

This is commonly recommended to women to induce labor. It seems that there is research to support castor oil starting labor. Castor oil is used as a laxative and can also stimulate the uterine muscles as well. This doesn’t work for many women though, and in just about every case you can expect to feel very nauseous, on top of having to sit on the toilet for good while. This is one I wouldn’t recommend, but if you get the all clear from your provider, it could be worth a try. Eating spicy food is believed to work in the same way by stimulating the bowels and hopefully uterus.

Acupuncture or Acupressure

Acupressure and Acupuncture both have a very long history and we are now beginning to utilize these techniques for many ailments and desired outcomes. To receive acupuncture you would need to search out a professional, but acupressure you can easily try at home. There are four main points on the body that are believed to promote labor. Here is a great reference if you would like to learn more https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323402.php 

Exercise

We are definitely not talking about lifting weights or running a marathon here (unless your body is accustomed to that). Walking however will help relieve stress and move baby down into your pelvis. This will cause pressure on your cervix that will hopefully cause it to soften! Rocking or even just resting on a birth ball can help accomplish this as well. Please make sure you keep hydrated and stop exercising when you feel like you need to. Listening to your body is key! 

Evening Primrose Oil

Some midwives will recommend using Evening Primrose oil to help the cervix thin and dilate. This comes in capsules that can be taken orally or even inserted into the vagina at night. (you just poke a hole or 2 in the capsule before insertion) There are also other herbs that may be recommended but they should always be used with caution and under the direction of your care provider.

Membrane Stripping

This one is definitely the most invasive and not totally “natural” either. I wanted to include it as an option here however because if all else fails and an induction is being pressed, it can be a good in-between. There are a few risks associated with this. First, it requires a vaginal exam and thus can increase the risk of infection. Second, there is a possibility your care provider could break your waters by mistake. Both of these are rare, but informed consent is important so you have to know the risks. During this vaginal exam, your doctor or midwife will insert two fingers and in a sweeping motion separate your amniotic sac from the uterus wall. This procedure can be slightly uncomfortable and can cause some cramping afterwards. This helps many women avoid more invasive induction methods. 

At the end of the day, it’s important we remember that babies come when they are ready, plain and simple. Sometimes they really need the extra time in the womb to strengthen their lungs or gain some more weight. It’s also worth mentioning that due dates are not exact. One of the best things you can do is to try and relax and enjoy these last few days or weeks before your family is forever transformed!!

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