When it comes to giving birth, it is highly recommended to let Mother Nature take its course and allow it to decide when the baby should come out. But if you are 40 weeks in with no sign that you are going into labor anytime soon, you should help nature along.
This is because the risks start to increase for both mums and babies at 41 weeks. When you get into 42 weeks or even longer, medical labor induction will have to be performed on you.
Good thing there are many natural ways to induce labor, some of which are quite fun and enjoyable to do.
Word of caution:
It is important to remember that labor induction has its share of risks, such as cesarean delivery. So make sure to talk to your doctor before you try any of the methods below.
8 Natural Ways to Induce Labor
Gentle exercises done throughout your pregnancy are a good way to keep you and your baby healthy. When you want to induce labor, walking is considered a great exercise to do it.
The theory is that it can help engage the baby in the pelvis, preparing them for their exit. But it is best done in the last week of pregnancy instead of at the last minute.
The best practice is to take a long walk a week leading up to your labor date without overdoing anything.
It would also quickly help if you practice safe exercises during the third trimester of your pregnancy.
Some of the most recommended activities are walking and jogging, swimming and aqua aerobics, body weight and toning moves, and low-impact exercises, such as yoga, Pilates, and barre.
Unless a doctor tells you to abstain from bedroom antics, sex is considered one of the most effective ways to induce labor.
The prostaglandins in semen are said to kick-start labor which is the very same chemical used in hospital labor induction . It is also used in medications designed to ripen the cervix such as Cervidil.
This means sex can also soften your cervix and prepare you for your baby’s birth ahead.
What is great about this natural method is that it has to be done a lot to make it effective. Although there is no study to substantiate claims, it is said that three ejaculations are needed to produce the same amount of prostaglandins found in Cervidil.
So, more sex can lead to naturally induced labor.
Unlike medications, sex will not have any side effects, such as fetal distress, ruptured membranes, and contractions that are more painful than usual.
3. Breast Stimulation
Nipple stimulation can cause the uterus to contract and could bring about labor.
But a better way to do it is to stimulate the whole breast using slow rhythmic massage starting from behind the areola. The method not only induces labor naturally but also eases your sore and tender nipples.
Some prefer to use a breast pump to stimulate the nipples and breast but manual stimulation remains highly recommended.
4. Acupressure and Acupuncture
Acupressure is a perfect way to alleviate pain and discomfort while going through labor.
Some practitioners, however, believe that it can be used to start and restart labor as well. There are acupressure points in the body that induce labor, after all. These include the Spleen 6 Point, Pericardium 8 Point, Bladder 60 Point, and Large Intestine 4 Point.
If you decide to go with acupressure, make sure it is done by a trained professional.
Acupuncture is also another method to induce labor naturally because it stimulates the release of oxytocin. In the Journal of Perinatal Medicine, a randomized trial showed that a majority of the over 400 pregnant participants that were given acupuncture before labor did not require medical labor induction.
This is not conclusive of the effectivity of acupuncture, however, because the participants were given acupuncture and/or membrane stripping during the trial.
5. Prenatal Massage
This is not only a great way to relax and get centered before you go into labor but it can also induce labor. The focus, however, should be on the feet where there are labor-inducing trigger points.
Reflexology, foot massage, and even a pedicure are great options.
Although opinions about hypnosis are divided and solid evidence is lacking, some swear by it. After all, it is designed to help you relax and allow labor to begin by getting rid of elements that prevent the production of oxytocin, such as stress and anxiety.
In case you want to give hypnosis a try, it is recommended that you start early on in your pregnancy through hypnobirthing, a practice to help you gain a positive approach to your baby’s birth.
7. Eat Labor-Inducing Food and Drink
Eating and drinking certain food and beverages are believed to help induce labor. Some of them may be old wives’ tale, but many mothers can attest to their efficacy.
Spices are believed to stimulate your stomach and then trigger contractions. There are no studies to back this claim, however. So make sure not to overdo it to avoid indigestion or heartburn.
If it is not part of your diet, consult with your doctor beforehand.
This fruit contains bromelain that is believed to have the ability to stimulate the uterus and induce labor . Or it could be just the intestinal stimulation that results in eating large amounts of pineapple.
A small study found that women who consume 6 dates a day for a period of 4 weeks before the due date may not need induction. This is because they showed intact membranes, higher cervical dilation, and spontaneous labor.
The need to use oxytocin was also significantly lower and the first stage of labor shorter.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Although it is considered a way to induce labor, it is best used when labor is underway as a means to keep it going. Because of its ability to help tone the uterus, it is also recommended to be taken in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Considered an herbal option, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor before you drink raspberry leaf tea.
Evening primrose oil and castor oil are also considered naturally labor-inducing. But both need to be taken with caution because of their side effects. Castor oil, for example, can cause terrible diarrhea that may lead to dehydration.