Natural Labour Induction
Inductions are a hot topic these days. Unfortunately medical inductions are overused and often for the wrong reasons. Many inductions are medically indicated, for example if either mom or baby are unwell, but many aren’t. The fact that we have the option of medically inducing labour, means that sometimes these options are used when they are not warranted.
As a labour and delivery nurse, I often see women who are being induced because “their doctor said they could” or because “they’re done being pregnant.” These are not valid reasons for inducing labour. Women usually go into labour when their bodies and babies are ready. Actually, for some women, it might be totally normal not to go into labour until 42 weeks. Hurrying this process can lead to multiple interventions and an increased risk of c-section. ACOG (The American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians) say potentially up to 50% of inductions will end in c-section, with the risk being 30% when women go into labour on their own. Do keep in mind though that these are American stats, but none the less, inductions are not to be taken lightly.
More from Babytalk: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Inductions
In this post, I will go over four methods of trying to induce labour naturally in hopes of helping you prevent being medically induced. I won’t be talking about the medical ways labour is induced in hospital, you can find my blog post about that here.
The methods I’ll discuss are common and often recommended by doctors and midwives, but please remember that I’m not your health care practitioner, so please consult with yours before trying these methods.
Also, just in case you weren’t sure, these methods are only meant for healthy full term pregnancies.
#1 Nipple Stimulation
It’s simple! Just pinch your nipples slightly between your thumbs and forefingers and rub them back and forth. Do it for a few minutes and then rest. Also, try massaging your whole breasts in-between. This will stimulate the let-down reflex. How is this working to stimulate labour? When your body lets down milk for your baby, it releases oxytocin. This is the same hormone that cause labour contractions. And actually, it’s the same hormone you’ll be getting if you need to be medically induced in the hospital. Only, in hospital you’ll get it through an IV.
A few midwives I’ve worked with use a breast pump to induce contractions. A double hospital grade pump would work best, but you can use the good old manual pump as well. Just pump for about 15 mins on both sides and then give your body a rest for a bit. Try again in about an hour. Don’t forget to get lots of rest in between stimulation sessions. At best this will put you into labour, at worst it might not, but you might get a little bit of colostrum out. Save it to give to your babe after delivery!
#2 Sexual Intercourse
A nurse I used to work with always said: “Whatever got them in there will get them out!” Semen contains prostaglandins which are hormones that can soften your cervix. And actually, synthetic prostaglandins are used in medical inductions!
My advice to you would be to have intercourse as often as possible to concentrate the amount of prostaglandins around your cervix. Now, I fully understand that sex multiple times a day at 40 weeks gestation does not sound that exciting, but hey, if it helps to speed up the process, it might be worth a try.
Position wise it’s probably best if you do it doggy-style, and side-lying can work very well. Try to have fun, it might be the last few times you have sex for a long time. Enjoy being intimate with your partner and take time to rest and relax between your lovemaking sessions.
If you can reach orgasm it’s even better, because it might cause you to have some contractions!
#3 Castor Oil
Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained by pressing the seeds of the castor oil plant. Ingesting it will cause intestinal contractions which in turn can start contracting your uterus as well. Castor oil has been used for ages to induce labour, even before there were medical ways of induction.
Beware that it can cause diarrhea, so plan to stay home and close to the toilet. Castor oil should be mixed in with juice or food, because it doesn’t taste the greatest, usually one tablespoon does the trick.
Also, due to the loss of fluids you may experience from the diarrhea, plan to keep hydrated. You don’t want to have to go into hospital for dehydration!
Again, talk to your health care provider before trying this method. A lot of labour and delivery nurses might curse me for recommending this method since it’s not really the best to take care of someone who has diarrhea. But hey! If it works to help get your labour started, it’s worth the work in my books!
#4 Membrane Sweep
This is a natural way to induce labour, but you won’t be able to do it on your own. A membrane sweep is when your doctor or midwife reaches up with a finger or two, past your cervix and sweeps them in-between the amniotic sac and your cervix. This releases prostaglandins that can cause your cervix to start thinning out. In turn it might start your labour contractions!
Unfortunately, sometimes you get tons of contractions from this method without them actually working to thin out or open up your cervix. That really sucks! If you think you are in labour, head on over to your hospital, they will be able to figure out whether it is actual labour or not.
More from Babytalk: What Happens During a Vaginal Birth in Hospital?
So those are four very effective methods of inducing labour naturally. I really hope they work for you!
An extremely important aspect of being induced successfully, whether it is a natural method or not, is to stay focused and calm. Being stressed out during this process will only work against you! I recommend meditation and/or yoga. Also, get lots and lots of rest. Most women have stopped working at this stage in their pregnancies, so even if you’re not sleeping at night, try to nap throughout the day. Believe it or not, this too will have an effect on how well your induction will go.
More from Babytalk: The Best Way to Cope With Contractions During Labour
Please send along any stories you have of how you induced your labour naturally, I would love to share them on the blog if you’re interested. I really believe that women learn best from other women experiences, so don’t be shy, contact me!