5 Ways To Induce Labor Naturally

by Sumdima Rai
After nine months of pregnancy, you're ready to begin your life as a mom. And when your delivery date ticks by without any indication your baby is ready to meet the world, it's normal to get anxious. 

“I see a lot of women who are tired of being pregnant, want it to be over and ask, ‘What else can I do?'," says Jonathan Schaffir, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Ohio State University College. A study conducted by Schaffir and his colleagues found that more than half of the pregnant women turn to nonpharmacological approaches to induce labor as they go past their due dates. Take heed, though, because in recent years, the definition of a “full-term” pregnancy has gone from 37 to 39 weeks. So, what are some ways to induce labor naturally and do they work?

Before going into details about how to induce labor naturally, remember to speak to your doctor first. “There are no proven non-medical ways for inducing labor naturally,” says New York midwife Elizabeth Stein CNM. A study published in Birth found that out of the 201 new mothers surveyed, 50 percent had tried some natural method before giving birth, often without discussing with their physician, which is a cause of concern especially when interventions may do more harm than good. Therefore, please consult your medical caregivers before administering these natural induction methods. And, in most cases, it’s best to let the baby set his or her own birth date. Schaffir also mentions in his study: “The safest and healthiest labor is one that starts spontaneously.”

1. Sexual Intercourse

You must have heard that sex helps induce labor. This notion rests on the basis of prostaglandins hormones, which tend to cause your uterine muscles to contract and it is present in your man’s semen. Ejaculating inside the vagina holds greater promise of labor induction.

2. Nipple Stimulation

Stimulating the nipples (either manually or with the help of a breast pump) causes the release of oxytocin, the same hormone that is responsible for uterine contraction. Dr Lisa Watson, ND suggests these two methods in her website for effective nipple stimulation.
  • Apply a firm pressure on your nipples with fingers for two minutes and then rest for three minutes. Repeat this process for 20 minutes.
  • 15 minutes of firm nipple (including the areola) stimulation (alternating breasts midway through) each hour for several hours in a row.

3. Exercise

It may induce labor by applying the necessary pressure on the cervix for dilation to occur, helping the baby descend into the birth canal. Even if it may not work, exercises like walking can help relieve some stress. J

4. Acupuncture

Dr Watson says that acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat conditions of pregnancy as well as induce labor. She says,“When performed after the due date, acupuncture has been shown in studies to have a success rate of up to 88 percent in starting labor.” However, she advises women to find a Naturopathic Doctor who is experienced in perinatal acupuncture protocols and techniques for best results. Terry Harper, MD, found in a small study that 70 percent of pregnant women (39.5 to 41 weeks) who got acupuncture sessions went into labor on their own, compared to 50 percent of the women who received standard care.

5. Herbs

"Cohosh and evening primrose are two herbs that women use to induce natural labor, which should be strictly taken under the supervision of a qualified Naturopathic Doctor, midwife or obstetrician," says Dr Watson. According to Harper, cohosh should be avoided as it has not been studied much, while evening primrose, which supposedly releases the contraction-stimulating hormone prostaglandin, gets more of a positive nod, but then again it requires further study as well.

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