Your Pregnancy

8 Natural Ways to Induce Labor To Try When You Can’t Wait Any Longer

These are worth a try if you're still counting the days!
Sarah Amos

So, you feel big enough to burst, you simply CANNOT get comfortable in bed and you haven’t seen your feet in weeks!

If you’re feeling like this towards the end of your third trimester, then you’re probably about ready to serve your baby his eviction notice!

But if your due date is upon you, exactly how can you try to hurry things along naturally?

Sex.

It may well be the last thing on your mind if you feel tired, uncomfortable and the size of a truck, but it might be the solution to all of the above!

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The reason that intercourse is said to kick-start labor is because of the prostaglandins in semen. These are the chemicals that are used in hospital inductions to get labor going.

Sex can, therefore, soften your cervix and get things started.

Bellybelly also points out that the female orgasm may help the process. This is because it produces oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone we feel when we have skin-to-skin contact with our babies.

As well as being nature’s own pain relief once labor is underway, it can also trigger contractions.

High-Risk

The only time you should steer clear of this method of induction is if you’re doctor has recommended that you abstain from the bedroom antics. This might be the case if you’ve had complications or are considered a high-risk pregnancy.

Nipple stimulation.

Another option which may be far from your thoughts at the moment!

Chances are, your boobs have never quite looked before the way they do right now. (You wait until baby arrives!)

But it just might be worth giving it a go, or asking your other half to do it for you!

Nipple stimulation is another way to produce oxytocin, which we’ve already noted can induce contractions.

It will probably take quite a bit of “twiddling” to have an effect, but perhaps you could team it with a few other induction methods!

Pineapple.

You may well have enjoyed this yummy and healthy fruit throughout your pregnancy, but did you know it might really come into its own as you reach your 40th week??

It contains an enzyme called Bromelain which might possibly trigger labor by way of softening your cervix.

It’s also possible that other tropical fruits like kiwi, mango and papaya may have the same effect!

Beware of going too pineapple-crazy though, as this could end up with you running for the loo for non-baby-related reasons!

Spicy food.

You’ve probably all heard this one: If your baby is being stubborn then grab yourself a fiery curry to smoke him out!

There’s still some debate about how effective spicy food is for getting labor started (although I have to admit it seemed to work for me!)

The theory is that the spices stimulate your tummy, which can then trigger contractions in your womb.

Probably best not to overdo it though, and certainly don’t order a dish that’s too hot for you to handle, or you might find yourself with a serious bout of heartburn or indigestion!

(If this happens, find out how to treat these ailments safely during pregnancy here.)

Exercise.

Taking a long walk is another piece of age-old advice for any overdue mom-to-be.

Does it work?

Well, the theory is that exercise can help engage the baby in the pelvis, ready for his exit! Therefore it’s actually a good induction method to start practicing in the last weeks of pregnancy rather than leaving it to the last minute.

And of course, gentle exercise throughout your pregnancy is good for the health of both mom and baby! So grab those walking shoes!

It’s important not to overdo it though, so always seek medical advice on more strenuous exercises during pregnancy. You can find some advice on exercising safely with your bump here.

Hypnosis.

This one will most probably divide opinion. Babycentre points out that although new research into hypnotherapy is underway, we don’t yet have any solid evidence that it works.

The theory behind hypnosis is that we need to feel relaxed in order for labor to begin. Stress and anxiety could prevent the producing oxytocin.

If you do want to give this a try, it’s best to start earlier on in your pregnancy for it to have an impact. I gave hypnobirthing a go and it definitely helped me to approach the birth positively.

Like a lot of first-time-moms-to-be, I was pretty nervous about what birth would be like and hypnobirthing absolutely helped me prepare for this.

Although there are classes and one-to-one sessions available, these can be quite pricey. There also has to be a lot of at-home practice involved anyway.

There are quite a few self-hypnosis CDs or MP3s out there, or you can find out more about hypnobirthing here.

Herbal options (check with your doctor first).

Evening primrose oil is a herb which is often recommended. It may thin the cervix, dilating it in preparation for labor.

You can find it in pharmacies and health food stores, either in capsules or in liquid form.

It can be taken orally or even massage it around the cervix in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

I can’t say I ever tried it, but have heard it’s not the tastiest of tonics!

BUT it’s really important that you check about any herbal use with you doctor since there are no studies which confirm its safety. Mommies with placenta previa must give it a miss for example.

Raspberry leaf tea is also often cited as a way to induce labor. Babycentre suggests that it’s best to use this to help labor progress once it’s already underway.

I was advised that it could help tone the uterus in the last few weeks of pregnancy and make labor easier.

But like anything herbal, it’s best to check with your doctor first.

However, you should definitely steer clear of the stuff if:

  • A previous labor was really quick (only three hours or less, from start to finish).
  • You’re booked in to have a planned caesarean or have had once previously.
  • You’ve had a premature labor before.
  • You’ve experienced vaginal bleeding during your pregnancy.

Acupuncture and acupressure.

If the thought of needles sends you running for this hills, you might cringe at the thought of acupuncture!

Though the debate is still widespread, there is some research which is starting to show that acupuncture may be able to trigger labor.

Women’s health and reproductive specialist, Doctor Andrew Orr, has had his research published in several leading medical journals. He has found that only one treatment it usually needed and that the effects can be seen 6-48 hours afterward.

Acupuncture works on the theory of correcting disruptions to the flow of energy, or ‘qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’) around the body. You can find out more about it here.

My experience…

I tried acupuncture for morning sickness and believe it did have a positive effect, if only temporarily.

Acupressure may be more up your street if you’re not a fan of needles. This works by massaging various pressure points to induce labor.

However, it is vital to take medical advice first to ensure that these treatments may be suitable for your own individual pregnancy.

It’s equally important to make sure you go to a qualified professional, as certain pressure and needling points can be dangerous in pregnancy.

Speaking from personal experience…

Well, when my little boy was six days late, numbers 5, 4 and 1 were what worked for me (in that order!)

A long walk to the Indian for a spicy curry, followed by…

Well, you can figure out the rest!

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