Natural Ways to Induce Labor

If you’re looking for ways to induce labor, first you should examine the reasons for doing it.

If it’s simply because you’re eager to meet your precious new baby, take a second thought. Pregnancy can get tedious, but letting the baby decide when it’s time to be born is usually the healthiest choice. Accept your baby’s timetable, and don’t rush him or her. Patience is always needed in parenting, even at the earliest stages. Breathe deeply and give your baby permission to choose his or her own birthday.

If your doctor or midwife is recommending that your baby needs to come out soon, learn as much as you can about the situation. Some caregivers follow a rigid schedule that specifies that all babies should come before a certain time. This doesn’t take into account the fact that every body is different, and every baby develops at a different rate.

A woman I worked with went two-and-a-half weeks past her official due date and then gave birth to a perfect, beautiful, pink, plump, healthy baby girl who still had the creamy vernix in the folds of her arms and thighs. If she’d had her labor induced at 40 weeks, the baby would have been two-and-a-half weeks underdeveloped. Another woman I knew had a history of going two weeks past her dates with all of her babies, all seven of them. A decision about when to deliver should be based on the baby’s state of health, not an inflexible schedule. If the baby is vibrant and happy inside of mom, rushing labor could be a premature move (perhaps literally!).

On the other hand, some babies do show signs that they need to be delivered. If you’re near or past your due date, your caregiver is probably doing assessments on the baby like non-stress tests, biophysical profiles, or having you track the baby’s movement patterns. If these tests indicate that your baby is not thriving inside, then there is a valid reason to consider inducing labor. Some of the suggestions below can be used to try to stimulate labor without the use of drugs.

This first set of methods deal with stimulating the uterus itself to get it to start contracting.

* Sexual intercourse can help in two ways. One is that orgasms stimulate uterine contractions. The other is that semen contains hormones that soften the cervix (the opening to the uterus) and help it dilate more easily.

* Nipple stimulation causes your body to secrete oxytocin, which is the very same hormone that hospitals use to start contractions and induce labor.

* Physical activity also stimulates the uterus. That’s why women who are having premature labor are put on bedrest. Taking a walk is a great activity for starting contractions. Dancing can also be fun. With either of these, don’t wear yourself out.

* Massage is sometimes used as well. Generally, gentle massage of the abdomen will cause the uterus to contract. Some massage therapists also know specific pressure points that are believed to affect the uterus.

* There are also herbs that some people recommend that target the uterus and the cervix. If you’re considering taking herbal remedies, consult with a birth professional you trust who is knowledgeable about their use. Some herbs can affect the body dramatically and even dangerously, so don’t try it without professional advice.

These next methods work by stimulating the digestive system. The uterus and the intestines are both controlled by the same set of nerves, so stimulating one can affect the other as well.

* Using an enema is a frequent method. Along with bowel movements, contractions come.

* Spicy foods are rumored to affect some women enough to start contractions. Can’t hurt to try.

* Some people use castor oil, mixed with juice or some other beverage to make it drinkable. I am wary of castor oil inductions. For one thing, it will often make the mother quite sick, vomiting repeatedly along with massive diarrhea (as one midwife said, “Castor oil could put a MAN in labor!”). Also, on more than one occasion, I have seen castor oil-induced labors progress well up to a point and then fizzle out, making it necessary to do the drug-based induction after all. Hardly worth the suffering the mom had to go through with the castor oil.

If a woman is tense and anxious it can potentially hinder contractions (adrenaline is not conducive to labor). If you feel that your body is ready for labor to start and you just need to relax and let it happen, you might try:

* Relaxation exercises

* Massage

* A warm bath

* Some people suggest a little bit of alcohol as a relaxant. I prefer not to recommend that. Even though one drink is unlikely to cause fetal alcohol syndrome, it’s probably better to go into labor with a clear head.

If any of these methods work for you, you may be able to avoid the need for drugs to induce your labor. Good luck!