Natural Ways to Help Bring On Laborby Elizabeth MacDonald
Mamas, you are tired and DONE with being pregnant.
While baking your baby as long as possible is advised, if you are at 40 weeks and just plain done, there's no harm in trying to gently coax that baby out!
But first - all of the reasons not to induce...
What is developing and changing within baby at 39 weeks gestation:
- Advanced muscle development: Aiding with the suck swallow motion of nursing
- Body temperature control
- Further brain development
- Higher body fat
- Advanced body system development: lung development, digestive system, nervous system, etc
I will not lie to you. I have had many birth clients approach 39-40 weeks begging me for ways to help get the baby out sooner than later. I sympathize and try to gently remind them that the end is near, pregnancy is not forever. There are those, though, who are staring at a medical induction at a certain date, or those about to risk out of their chosen birthplace due to going past a certain date on the calendar. To those clients, I start guiding them on all the ways to naturally bring a baby earthside.
The biggest problem is that a baby WILL NOT COME if he is not ready. An induction will even lead to c-section if your baby is not ready to be born. So please try to hold out and wait on your baby.
*BUT if you are in a position of 40+ weeks, and you are begging for ways to help get labor started before a doctor does, then read on.
Natural Labor Induction Methods
Sex is a commonly suggested method of natural induction due to semen containing prostaglandins, which help to ripen the cervix. Consider a relaxing bath first; making sure the body is not tensed. Please note that sex is safe throughout the entire pregnancy unless your doctor has given you specific limitations.
Not only can chiropractic care ease symptoms during pregnancy, but there is also research that shows it can ease delivery time and pain. Research found that women who receive chiropractic care during pregnancy have approximately 6 fewer hours of labor than women who did not receive care. Chiropractors who specialize in pregnancy (Webster Technique) can not only ease pain, but they can manipulate a baby’s position, turning him into the best place to begin labor.
Stimulating the nipples (including your areola, as a baby would when sucking) triggers the production of natural oxytocin. Oxytocin contracts the uterus. Massage the first nipple for 5 minutes (when there are no contractions), then wait to see what happens (around 15 mins or so) before doing more. It’s a good idea to take your mind off things by getting on with your usual duties than sitting and waiting for something to happen – so try and keep busy! Once labor is well established again, stop the stimulation.
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to induce women who are post dates in their pregnancy. Most of the time one treatment is all that is needed to get the process going. Sometimes a second treatment may be needed. Through continual research, it’s been found that induction using acupuncture generally works within 6-48 hours of having your treatment.
You can find a wonderful reference for acupressure for pregnancy and birth here.
- The first area on the body used for stimulating labor is located between the thumb and index finger. This point is actually the “webbing” between these two areas. Techniques vary, but this pressure point can be pressed and rubbed for several seconds or simply pressed firmly for approximately one minute and then released. This technique can also be used during active labor to relieve pain.
- The next area of the body used for stimulating labor is the ankle. This area actually has two different pressure points. The first pressure point is located on the outside of the ankle, just behind where the bony prominence is. Just like the first-mentioned location, techniques vary but the pressure point can be rubbed or pressed for several seconds or one minute. The other ankle pressure point is inside the leg, above the ankle. This area may be difficult to find but it is more sensitive to touch than the rest of the leg.
- Another area is located on the back, above the buttocks and lower back. This area can also be pressed or massaged as tolerated.
Homeopathic remedies use highly diluted versions of more potent substances to treat the body. Pulsatilla and Caulophyllum are two commonly used homeopathic remedies used to stimulate labor.
Evening Primrose Oil:
EPO may not induce labor, but it can prime and soften your cervix. You may take the oil orally or insert it vaginally for the best results.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea:
Keeping you hydrated, as well as stimulating contractions, RRL Tea has been used to tone the uterus and possibly bring labor on if the baby is ready.
Cinnamon Stick Tea:
Take cinnamon sticks and boil them into a tea and drink. It actually tastes good so even if it doesn't bring on labor it may help you to relax.
Clary Sage Oil:
One of the numerous health beneﬁts of clary sage essential oil is to promote relaxation and pain relief during labor. It is specifically useful where muscular tension arises from mental or emotional stress. Mix CSO with a carrier oil (Like Coconut Oil) and rub on before using acupressure for best labor-educing results.
Most tropical fruits such as pineapples, mango, papaya, and kiwi contain proteolytic enzymes, enzymes that break down protein and are thought to have certain medicinal properties. Pineapples have been used as an anti-inflammatory, digestive aid, diuretic, and also to induce labor. Bromelain, a type of proteolytic enzyme found in pineapples, may help to soften the cervix which could explain how it helps to bring on labor. Since it is also used as a digestive aid, it may stimulate the bowels to move, which could bring on contractions as well.
Wide Squats, Stair lunges, and Curb Walking:
Walking on an uneven surface such as a curb or lunging up the stairs can help drop the baby into a lower and engaged position for labor to begin. Squatting reduces the birth canal by 10% and helps to get baby into the lowest position for birth.
The pressure of your baby’s head pressing down on the cervix stimulates the release of oxytocin, hopefully bringing on labor, also just being upright gets the forces of gravity working for you, encouraging the baby to move down into the pelvis.
Rubbing two tablespoons of castor oil on the belly (around the uterus) can possibly cause contractions, leading to labor.
Enemas or Castor Oil:
This causes the bowels to contract and could cause the uterus to contract. Use with caution as castor oil can cause vicious diarrhea, dehydration, and can cause problems with the baby. (THIS WOULD NEVER BE MY METHOD!)
Remember that the baby will come when he is ready and that no natural method will work to induce labor if your baby is not ready!