Premature birth may worry you as it worries most expectant parents but becoming overdue can also bring its own concerns and difficulties, and knowing natural ways to induce your labor could be helpful. As you become larger, sleeping can become more challenging. It becomes increasingly more difficult to get into a comfortable position as does breathing as your lungs become more crowded due to your overgrown uterus. If your baby stays in too long then there are risks associated with this, most commonly that your baby could pass meconium. If you find yourself overdue and are seeking advice to naturally help induce labour then the following is a list of ideas to do exactly that.
- Sex– is often prescribed by doctors to help induce labour because the prostaglandins in semen help soften and prepare the cervix to dilate.
- Herbs – hundreds of years ago midwives used herbs to prepare mothers for pregnancy, labour and birth. This was before the invention of pitocin. You must be very cautious with herbs of any kind as they can cause great damage if the correct dosage is not administered. Black cohosh, available in capsules or teas is commonly used to induce labour and can be with or without alcohol. During birth, black cohosh can help strengthen and regulate uterine contractions. Other herbs which have similar effects are red raspberry leaf and false unicorn root. These particular herbs have natural chemicals which are released into the woman’s body and stimulate the baby to encourage her to move and get positioned for birth. Herbs should not be used until the cervix is ready to open as they will not work until then. Beware of some herbs which can be dangerous to you or your baby such as aloe vera, bungleweed and pokeroot as these are some of the herbs that can cause premature birth or birth defects. Always consult a doctor before self-medicating with herbs. Primrose oil is used to induce labour as it has a comparable effect to semen in the cervix by softening and ripening it.
- Castor Oil – is taken by some women as a natural method of bringing on labour. The theory being that the diarrhoea and cramping it causes also causes contractions that can induce labour. It is unpleasant to taste but two tablespoons can be mixed into another drink such as a juice. It is advised to consume castor oil in the morning as you will be woken in the night with the cramping and diarrhoea if you take it in the evening. There are risks with taking castor oil such as the expectant mother becoming dehydrated because she has diarrhoea and also it increases the risk of the baby passing meconium while still in the uterus.
- Nipple Stimulation – for hundreds of years nipple stimulation has been used by women to help induce labour. It has an effect of releasing a natural form of pitocin called oxytocin. Similarly to pitocin, oxytocin triggers contractions that can bring on labour. This method for naturally inducing labour is only effective near to your due date and when you are ready to give birth. Before forty weeks, it is not advisable to induce labour. The nipples can be stimulated manually or a breast pump can be used. Care needs to be taken as your uterus can become hyperstimulated. Only stimulate one nipple at a time and rest immediately once you notice contractions. Wait at least fifteen minutes after the contractions have stopped before resuming. If you do not get any rest between contractions other problems can arise.
- Be Active – whilst most doctors advise you to slow down and reduce your activities as you approach your due date, it is also helpful to remain active as long as you do not cause yourself any stress. Walking a wee bit more than usual and slowly swinging your hips from side to side can help induce labour by stimulating your baby and getting her moving into the birthing position. If you fancy some fun, sex is always a good idea as I mentioned before because along with semen helping the cervix to soften, the female orgasm produces a hormone which aids childbirth.
Other methods women have used include acupressure and eating spicy foods, but watch out for possible nausea with spicy food and medical research has not yet supported this idea as definitely being beneficial.
God luck! Godspeed! And safe labor and delivery to you!