Here are a few ways to induce labour naturally – something that is really important to mention is that although these methods are considered to be more natural methods of induction, they are still methods of induction and starting labour before your baby and your body are ready could mean that labour is longer, more intense, more uncomfortable etc, so it’s definitely worth careful consideration if you are going to try any of these things.
First of all, let’s look at what happens when you go into spontaneous labour…
When your baby’s lungs are developed he or she will send a message to your brain to give the thumbs up for labour to start, your brain will then start to produce Oxytocin, which is the hormone that encourages surges (contractions).
although these methods are considered to be more natural methods of induction, they are still methods of induction and starting labour before your baby and your body are ready could mean that labour is longer, more intense, more uncomfortable etc, so it’s definitely worth careful consideration if you are going to try any of these things.
Encouraging labour to start – what can you do?
Sex – ok so I know what you’re thinking, you’re heavily pregnant, you might not be feeling ‘in the mood’ or even if you are you’re having to be quite creative in terms of how you physically make sex happen at this stage!
The reason that sex is effective is that you produce lots of oxytocin when you’re intimate with your partner, you also produce lots of oxytocin when you orgasm and if there’s sperm involved, there are prostaglandins in sperm which is the hormone that encourages your cervix to soften. You can read more about oxytocin by clicking here.
Feeling confident and prepared – if you’re worried or stressing about not being ready, not wanting to be induced or anything else, you could be producing adrenaline which is the opposite of what you need to get things started. You can read more about that by clicking here.
Dates – I’m not talking about romantic dates although if you’ve read my blog about oxytocin you know that’ll definitely help. I’m talking about the fruit – there was a study which showed eating 6 dates a day from around 36 weeks that dates have an oxytocin-like effect on the body, leading to increased sensitivity of the uterus. It also helps stimulate surges (uterine contractions), and reduces postpartum haemorrhage the way oxytocin does. Here’s the link to the study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21280989
Nipple stimulation or colostrum harvesting – the reason that this can be effective is also all down to the oxytocin production.
Acupressure points – acupuncture can be a really effective way to get labour started but if you want a DIY option or don’t fancy the needles you can give acupressure a try yourself.
Hypnotherapy – this is another really effective way to get things going, you don’t necessarily need to go to see a hypnotherapist either, you can just take yourself off somewhere quiet, relaxing and giving yourself space to connect with your baby and telling your baby that you’re ready to meet them, using visualisations of things opening, thinking about your cervix softening – there’s all sorts of things you could try. If you’d like to try hypnotherapy with a hypnotherapist, feel free to give me a call.
Walking – letting good old gravity do its thing can be effective, the pressure of baby’s head on your cervix is thought to encourage labour as well as helping baby get into position for birth.
Clary sage – this is an essential oil that you should avoid during pregnancy, until you’re at least 40 weeks as it is thought to encourage labour to start. This one is a bit hit and miss, some people swear by it, while others say it helped once they were in labour to encourage contractions to become more regular and some women say they don’t think it worked at all.
Things that might not be so effective…
Raspberry leaf – technically this isn’t a way to induce labour, raspberry leaf tea or capsules are more for preparing your uterine muscles for birth.
Pineapple – while there is some basis of truth to this particular method because of an enzyme called Bromelain which is thought to encourage your cervix to soften, you’d have to eat around 7 whole pineapples a day for this method to be effective… including the core!
Curry/spicy food – this is quite an old fashioned but popular method, the idea is that it stimulates your gut which can then encourage labour to start… you could also spend your early labour running to and from the loo a lot and having quite an upset stomach which isn’t so pleasant… Same goes for castor oil or anything else that has a laxative effect.
There is something that is going to hinder any attempts to get things going, whether you are trying to or not…
Here are a couple of things in particular…
If you have passed your due date it is important to note only 5% of babies are born on their due date, your baby isn’t ‘late’. If you’re expecting your baby to make an arrival on that particular date/pinning your hopes on that particular date, it can be quite stressful if that doesn’t happen – this adrenaline based, stress response can be a reason that labour doesn’t start, so relax about the due date and think of it more as a guess date.
If you’ve got a medical induction date looming or a home birth in the balance based on due dates, again this can be a source of stress – medical induction is optional, it might not sound like it but it absolutely is. Managing this stress and worry is key as again, this adrenaline based response is unhelpful.
Using your hypnobirthing techniques is a great way to stay calm, confident and positive and reduce stress in both of the above scenarios or any others that you’re faced with that’s causing you stress.
If you’ve got any questions, please do get in touch.
I am not recommending or advising any of the methods of induction in this blog, I am providing you with information. I would definitely recommend discussing any of the methods with your Midwife before you decide to try any of them as this is a general list and doesn’t take into consideration your unique situation or circumstances – there may be other methods better suited to you. Please do not use these methods of induction before 40 weeks of pregnancy.
Hypnobirthing based birth preparation courses in Coulsdon, Caterham & Purley. Free monthly meet ups for pregnant women in Coulsdon, Caterham and Croydon. Weekly Pregnancy Relaxation Class in Caterham.