First, RELAX! Forget due dates. Due dates are merely an educated guess, did you know only 4% of births happen on the “due date”? Your anxiety is pumping adrenaline at high levels into your system, and this could very well be further delaying any progress or starting. Concentrate on the wonderful feeling of the baby’s movements inside you and how productive labor will be when it does begin. I know this all sounds a bit repetitive…however, the more you struggle to initiate labor the more your body becomes stressed, and a body that is stressed will not start labor simply as a built-in natural defensive response to perceived “danger.” Even though you might not be in actual danger, your stress levels tell the body that danger is imminent and this further delays the natural release of oxytocin into your system. Take a warm bath, eat a favorite meal, drink plenty of fluids and let nature take its course. The best things in life take time.
In dealing with natural induction, this list will start with the safest and least interventionist and will explain each method and the pros and cons of each.
- Start with relaxation techniques, to get you relaxed then use some visual imagery of labor beginning. The most important thing to do is to find a way to relieve stress and related tension. Tension works against labor. Relieve it, let everything go, and you may be surprised to find yourself in labor.
- A bumpy car ride may sound like an old wives tail, but if the baby is not in a good position, your sitting and relaxing while being moved by car through bumps has worked.
- Spicy food has been suggested, and if you are not prone to heartburn from spices why not give it a try. One word of caution though, heartburn during labor is not enjoyable!
- Before proceeding further, this is only a list of suggestions. Please consult with your doctor before trying any of these methods.
The next step is prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is the hormone that softens the cervix, preparing it for birth. It does not stimulate your uterus. Thus it is very safe. Two ways to introduce prostaglandin are:
- Making love with your husband or partner once a day, don’t get up right away after and elevating your hips is a good idea. This lets the prostaglandin in your husbands (partners) semen coat your cervix that helps to ripen it. Also, semen orally has been said to help, as prostaglandins are absorbed orally as well as vaginally.
- Take Evening Primrose oil. It doesn’t START labor, only prepares the cervix. You buy it at just about any health food/vitamin/herbal type store. It comes in capsules that look just like vitamin E. You can also massage it onto your cervix as long as the bag of waters is intact. If your water breaks and labor does not start soon, do not bath (shower instead), avoid sex and anything that could introduce germs into your vagina including vaginal checks.
- Prostaglandin induction (using an artificial prostaglandin gel) is the first step usually taken for induction in the hospital to soften the cervix, making it more favorable for induction with an artificial oxytocin drug.
Oxytocin and Emenagogues
Oxytocin is the hormone that your body uses to stimulate uterine contractions during labor. It is also the synthetic form of oxytocin that is used for induction and augmentation in the hospital. You must use caution when using these! After trying one, wait several hours to see if it has worked. If it is used too much or too often labor may become too intense for you and baby. If you experience any side effect, discontinue immediately!
- Nipple stimulation is a well-known method of contracting your uterus. Used by midwives for centuries, it not only stimulates the uterus during labor, it is very beneficial after the birth to aid in expelling the placenta and thus avoiding hemorrhage. As this method uses your natural oxytocin, it is the safest form of induction.
- Acupressure on the Spleen 6. For more information on this, ask your Doula or an excellent reference to this is The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.
- Blue or Black Cohosh are emenagogues. It is often seen as a last ditch method, but if artificial induction is threatened this is a much more natural form of induction. Don’t use it if you are anemic or have a history of postpartum bleeding, high blood pressure or excessive blood loss during birth. Use only under the guidance of a qualified herbologist or naturopathy and with the acceptance of your primary caregiver.
- Hey, go ahead and have that glass of wine you have been dying to have! At this point, it may relax you-hopefully enough to bring ’em on!
One of the possible side effects of using castor oil or an enema is the mom having bad diarrhea with cramps that can lead to dehydration, which is why my midwife suggests steering clear of it! I’ve also heard that it is believed to be associated with a higher risk of the baby passing meconium before or during the birth, but have seen no conclusive studies on this.
- Castor oil cocktail works by stimulating the bowels, which in turn stimulates the uterus. Metamucil works too and is much easier to take!
- An enema also works the same as castor oil, and though invasive, it may be the one to do the trick.