Natural Ways to Induce LaborTeresa Shaw
As your due date approaches (or passes) and you begin to feel increasingly uncomfortable, you will be anxious to start the next chapter of the process: motherhood. There are several safe methods for inducing labor naturally. Remember that you should not ever begin to try inducing labor until your baby is 38-40 weeks of gestation; your due date can be off by a week or two, and if your labor begins too soon, your baby might not be entirely ready to thrive outside the womb. In addition, always first talk to your doctor before attempting to naturally induce labor, particularly if you are having any complications.
The following are some common ways to stimulate labor started naturally.
Walking To Induce Labor
You have seen them at the mall—the pregnant women circling the mall again and again, frustration and exhaustion showing on their faces. Walking can help to get things moving along if you are having contractions. The motion of walking gets your hips to sway from side to side, which will help bring the baby into position to be born. Also, standing up helps to put gravity on your side which will allow your baby to move lower into your pelvis. And even if walking doesn't do the trick and stimulate labor, at least you are getting some exercise.
Riding a stationery bike or slow dancing are also said to help induce labor.
Intercourse To Induce Labor
Semen contains prostaglandins, a hormone involved in the start of labor. If you try intercourse as a means to induce labor, don't get up right afterwards—elevate your hips to help the semen stay on your cervix to help to thin and dilate it.
Be sure to get the OK from your doctor before having intercourse, and never have intercourse after your water has broken or you risk infection.
Nipple stimulation done in timed sequences can also bring on labor. This can be done by yourself or by your partner. Rolling the nipples between your thumb and forefinger or rubbing them, produces oxytocin - the hormone that causes the uterus to contract. It is supposed to be done for about 20 minutes every hour until labor is established. Nipple stimulation has been known to cause very strong contractions - as strong as taking the labor inducing drug, Pitocin, according to the authors of the popular book, What To Expect When You're Expecting. Again, this is not a guarantee and should only be done unless your doctor recommends it.
Spicy Foods To Induce Labor
Some women swear by eating spicy foods as a way to induce labor. For others, it might result in nothing but a bad case of indigestion or heartburn. It doesn't hurt to give spicy foods a try—such as Mexican or Indian cuisine—and see if it works for you.
Other Foods To Induce Labor
Tropical fruits including pineapple, papaya and mango contain a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme is said to help to soften the cervix and therefore bring on labor. Very little research has been done on bromelain and pineapple; in addition, eating large quantities of pineapple is likely to stimulate the digestive system and may kick-start the uterus into action by that means. If you do try pineapple, consume only fresh pineapple as bromelain is destroyed during the production process of canned pineapple.
Herbal Remedies To Induce Labor
Castor oil, evening primrose oil, or blue and black cohosh can be used to start labor naturally, but be careful: these herbal remedies have side effects and possible complications. Also, the FDA does not regulate herbal supplements in the same way as it does prescription medications. This means that the strength and quality of herbals can vary greatly. By law, supplements can be sold as long as they do not make any health claims or indicate that they cure a condition.
If you wish to take an herbal approach to inducing labor, check with your doctor or health care provider and an herbal professional before trying these or any supplements.
Getting Your Doctor's Help To Induce Labor
When nothing else works, your doctor may be willing to help things along by "stripping" or "sweeping" your membranes at your office visit. This can generate local production of prostaglandins; enough of it can start labor. Talk to your doctor about sweeping your membranes.Teresa Shaw is a professional editor and freelance writer with a degree in English and journalism. She writes about motherhood, travel, and cooking, among other topics, for a variety of print and online markets. She enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, two cats, and dog.
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