I am asked time and time again “How can I help start my labour naturally?” so I have written a quick little ‘go to’ list for you of methods to consider. You may know of others or have had success with one of these methods, I would love to hear from you please leave a comment. Obviously this list doesn’t go into the science behind the methods, as some do have good evidence to suggest they ’may’ indeed work, but if you want to know more, get in touch!
The chances are that if you are reading this you are passed your due date. You’re feeling huge, uncomfortable, sick of being pregnant, and eager to meet your baby. You're scouring the Internet for some way to coax this baby out! The message boards are full of suggestions for inducing labour ‘naturally‘. They range from eating spicy foods to spooning down castor oil... Yuk!
I remember this well, the waiting and waiting, no signs of a baby yet. The constant phone messages from well meaning family and friends hoping for some news. You try to be patient, try to let ‘nature take its course’ but its frustrating! So what can you try? And does anything really work? Childbirth experts say there's no good proof but you are willing to have a bash!
Firstly let me start by reassuring you that a normal pregnancy last for up to 42 weeks or even longer and there is no need to consider induction before this time unless medically indicated by your doctor.
There are many ‘natural’ ways suggested to help kick labour into gear and they’re worth trying before considering that induction! I’ve picked out a few of the most mentioned and tried and tested methods for you to look through…
No guarantees but lets get things moving or at least have fun trying!
I am aware this may be TMI and sex may be the last thing on your mind, but if you try the same thing that got you into your present situation, it might just help get labour going!
This should go hand in hand with the above but we all know it sometimes doesn’t… When a woman experiences orgasm, she produces oxytocin – the labour hormone (look at the science, its amazing stuff!)
Eat labour-inducing foods
Traditionally, fresh pineapple juice was used as a natural method to help induce labour. Spicy foods such as curries have also been a suggested method but they actually tend to just upset your stomach so are not really the most pleasant to try!
Take a walk
Walking is a great way to open your pelvis and get baby in position. Always take a partner or friend to walk with you just in case the exercise gets the ball rolling! (And be sure to stay well hydrated).
Evening Primrose Oil
This handy substance has been said to help ripen the cervix. It can be used orally and/or internally.
Massage, reflexology, acupuncture and acupressure
Some practitioners will offer treatments specifically for overdue mums, but it is obviously very important that you go to a fully qualified therapist, and that your treatment is 100% suitable for a mum-to-be.
There are some homeopathic remedies available to help encourage labour, however you will need to consult a qualified homeopath for more information on dosages.
Castor Oil - YUK!
Please avoid this method as its unpleasant for all! It causes diarrhoea (and sometimes vomiting) for some women, which is very unpleasant – and if you do go into labour, who wants to spend it on the toilet?
Raspberry Leaf is a uterine tonic, which also has added benefits after the birth for breast milk production. Make sure you check with your midwife and a naturopath for doses and to see if it’s appropriate for you.
According to a recent study; women who eat dates in pregnancy are not only more likely to go in to labour spontaneously but that their labour may be shorter. Wow that’s worth a try! 6 dates a day is all it takes! So get munching ladies!
Lastly, ladies try to remember that your baby will come when he/she is ready. The greatest gift you can give your baby right now is the gift of choosing his or her own birth date whilst you both remain happy and healthy. Enjoy these last days as a couple as soon your world will be turned upside down forever!
If you want any further advice, please do get in touch or talk to your midwife.
My final words of wisdom…As they say in China: ‘When the fruit is ready, it will fall off the vine’.