Many women, when they are in the last stages of their pregnancy, or are past their due date, start looking for ways that they can help Mother Nature along and get labour started. Some methods for inducing labour work, some don’t — some are harmless, and others ways to induce labour can be quite dangerous.
Ways to Induce Labor Naturally
1. Let’s Talk About Sex
Sex has long been thought to help induce labour – does it help or is this a myth that the men made up? While not certain, there is some merit to this theory; Semen contains prostaglandins, and prostaglandins soften the cervix and prepare to open. In addition, the women’s orgasm produces oxytocin, the hormone that causes contractions. So, while there may not be enough of these hormones to make a difference, it may be worth a try to induce labour!
2. Eggplant Parmesan
This labour induction method gained popularity when a news story began circulating about a restaurant named Scalini’s in Georgia. Apparently, in the past 23 years, over 300 women have gone into labour within two days of eating the eggplant parmigiana. It isn’t the eggplant or the parmesan, but rather the oregano and basil that are often in this dish that may have properties that may cause contractions. However, how much is needed, or how much is safe, is not known. So, enjoy your pasta, but do not go overboard or use essential oils of oregano or basil to try to induce labour.
3. Castor Oil
Castor oil causes diarrhea, and the cramps can cause sympathetic cramping in your uterus. However, this method isn’t proven, and it can actually be dangerous for both mom and baby. If the diarrhea is severe, the mom can become dehydrated and weak, and less able to handle the rigors of labour. I’d steer clear of this one.
4. Bumpy Car Rides
I have heard a lot of people say that they are going to riding in their truck on very bumpy roads to try to get labour started. Although believed by many and generally harmless as the baby is well protected in the womb, there isn’t any evidence that this will really work for inducing labor naturally.
5. Herbs and Homeopathics
Things like Blue or Black cohosh, red raspberry leaf tea, and evening of primrose oil are said by some to induce labour. There are various truths and fallacies associated with these (too many to get into here). Suffice it to say, there are some dangers and you should not try any of these without the direct care and supervision of your healthcare provider.
6. Stripping the Membranes
I can speak from experience to this method – it hurts like ^%$#*! My doctor recommended this as my blood pressure was rising and he wanted to move things along without using Pitocin (that I understand is awful) or other clinical means. Basically, the doctor inserts their finger(s) into your cervix pulling the membranes away from the mouth of the cervix thus stretching and irritating your cervix. Sometimes this will start the production of prostaglandins to start labour. I went into labour about 10 hours after having this done, but some women may need to have this done a few times in order for it to work.
Last Tip: Talk to Your Doctor or Midwife
Talk to your health care provider and take caution before using any labour induction technique. The main thing is to remember that, although it can be hard to wait, the baby will come when he or she is ready.