Self Induce Labor Safely and Naturally
Forty weeks have gone by and you have been waiting for this moment for what feels like an eternity. You are bigger than you ever imagined possible, you have been feeling the Braxton Hicks contractions and your bag is packed. Any minute now you will be heading off to the hospital, you think. But… nothing.
If your induction date is fast approaching and you really don’t want to go down that route then here are some alternative methods to self induce labor safely and naturally.
Nipple stimulation by gently rubbing or rolling the nipple is said to encourage the start of contractions. The theory behind this is that oxytocin, the hormone responsible for contractions, is released in the body when the breasts are stimulated.
A review by Kavanagh et al in 2005 found significant benefit from nipple stimulation in women whose cervix had already started to ripen and 37% of women who tried it went into labour within 72 hours as compared to just 6 per cent of those who had not.
Castor oil acts as a powerful laxative. It also stimulate the digestive system and the uterus and so aids in inducing labor. However it is not recommended by midwives because of its side effects of diarrhoea leading to dehydration. The study carried out by Garry et al in 2000 of 100 overdue women found that 57.7 per cent began active labour after a single dose of 60ml of castor oil, as opposed to 4.2 per cent who received no treatment. No adverse affects on mother or baby were reported but all the women who took it felt nauseous.
Sex and orgasms can trigger the release of oxytocin and stimulate the induction of labor. Semen contains a high concentration of prostaglandins which help to ripen the cervix. Sex is safe as long as your waters have not broken. If your water as broken having sex may increase the risk of infection. There is no concrete evidence that sex works to induce labor however it will forge a strong bond between the couple.
Acupressure stimulates certain points in the body to trigger uterine contractions and encourage the babies head to descend and engage. It is used as a very powerful and effective tool in relieving labor pain and morning sickness. There have not been any studies showing any adverse effects on mother or baby. A recent study tested labor acupressure on a group of women who were near or past their due date, and used a control group of women in a similar condition who were not given acupressure. (Complement Ther Med. 2005). The results showed that women in the acupressure group went into labor naturally and significantly more often than the women in the control group who not using any acupressure techniques.
Another study showed that stimulation of one single pain relieving pressure point was enough to remarkably reduce labor pains (J Altern Complement Med. 2004). The study also showed that the total labor time (measured from 3 cm dilatation to delivery) was, surprisingly, much shorter in the labor acupressure group than in the control group who were not using labor acupressure.