Victories and Failures of Natural Labor Induction

PregoVictoriesThe Victories and Failures of Natural Labor Induction

Pregnancy can feel like a long wait – especially during the last several weeks when discomfort is at it’s peak. Suddenly you feel like you can’t stand to be pregnant any longer. Sound familiar? In most instances, your doctor won’t induce labor early unless there is a medical reason to do so, but the wait can sometimes be excruciating. You’ve probably heard about some at-home natural labor induction techniques other women swear by to start labor, but do they actually work?

Labor Induction Failures

Some natural methods for inducing labor simply have no scientific basis. These failed natural labor induction techniques are most likely a waste of your time:

  • Eating spicy foods – Since there is no direct link from the stomach to the uterus, it is unlikely eating spicy foods has any effect on labor and should not be consumed if you don’t normally do so.
  • Taking castor oil – Small amounts of castor oil stimulate the bowels, which lean on the uterus. However, castor oil causes diarrhea, and dehydration is a poor condition to find yourself in if you are nearly ready to deliver a baby.
  • Cohosh – There is some talk about taking the herbs black and blue cohosh together to induce labor naturally, but experts caution against this particular mixture due to lack of study and favorable results.
  • Exercise – You’ve likely heard this one before. Some women swear that lots of walking put them into labor, but does it have any merit? Walking is undeniably great exercise during pregnancy, but doing too much can just make you feel fatigued. The consensus? No harm done, but no proof that long walks will put you into labor.
  • Driving on bumpy roads – Your baby is surrounded by fluid inside the uterus which provides a good amount of cushion for mild jostles like driving over a bumpy road. No evidence suggests this starts labor.

Natural techniques that could induce labor

There are a few natural labor induction techniques that make the list for possible success. While most of these are still being studied for effectiveness, the research that has been done doesn’t rule them out.

  • Nipple stimulation – This technique could help your body prepare for labor. The hormone oxytocin – which causes your uterus to contract and breast milk to let down – is released when the nipples are stimulated.
  • Having sex – A widely recommended method of inducing labor naturally, having sex might do the trick because it’s often safe at full term (as long as your water has not broken) and releases hormones such as prostaglandins and oxytocin.
  • Acupuncture – Used most widely in parts of Asia, acupuncture helps your body release oxytocin, a hormone that promotes labor. It is not detrimental to pregnancy, and studies reveal that pregnant women who undergo acupuncture are more likely to start labor on their own and have less chance of Cesarean birth.
  • Herbs – You really must do plenty of research and talk with your doctor before trying an herbal tincture to induce pregnancy, as some can cause harm to your baby. A number of safe herbal concoctions may help with labor, such as evening primrose oil or red raspberry leaf tea; speak with your physician before using herbs to begin labor.
  • Membrane stripping – Your doctor can “strip the membranes” in his office or clinic by inserting a gloved finger through the vagina and cervix to separate the amniotic sac from the uterine wall. Though this procedure cannot be performed at home, it’s a non-medicinal induction technique that can be very effective in triggering labor.

A word of caution

Before you decide to try any natural labor induction techniques at home, talk with your doctor. Some of these methods could wind up causing more harm than good. When it comes to beginning labor, the best thing to do is to allow your body to prepare for labor in its own time instead of trying to rush things – you don’t want to risk the health of your newborn by trying something sketchy.

Have you had success with any natural labor induction techniques? Share them with us in the comments!


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