How to encourage labour naturally?
Having a baby is one of the happiest moments of any parent’s life. But the act of having a baby is not equally shared by both parents and falls more to the mum than the dad. And the dad can only imagine how it feels and empathises.
And sometimes, the baby likes its motherly home so much that it doesn’t want to come out even when it’s fully formed, and the due date is due.
In these situations, mothers who have carried their babies for 40 weeks usually can’t wait to yank the baby out of them and carry it in their arms instead of in them. So they look to other mothers and the internet for natural ways to indeuce labour and move the baby having process along.
If so, here are some natural ways to help you encourage labour.
Before trying out any of these ways, consult your doctor or midwife and get a go-ahead from them first. Also, some of these methods are more hearsay with little to no scientific evidence and should not be taken as gospel.
Women with pregnancy and medical risks should avoid them altogether.
Mothers who are anxious about having their baby can try walking to help induce labour. Walking or any pre-approved exercise can be an excellent way to get your heart rate up, which helps with blood flow to your uterus and cervical dilation.
And the movement of your hips and gravity might assist in pulling the baby down to the pelvis, inducing labour.
This antiquated technique yields very different results for each person and should not solely be relied upon. However, walking and exercise during pregnancy is still recommended as it’s good for the health of the mum and baby.
Pregnancy yoga is also excellent for mothers who cannot walk or live in the city, which helps reduce anxiety and release stress.
However, you shouldn’t walk too much to tire yourself out at this period of pregnancy. Instead, you should rest and conserve energy for the delivery because you will not be resting for a long time once the baby arrives.
You should also consider discontinuing walking or exercising if you experience advanced symptoms such as shortness of breath, calf swelling, or pain. Walking is supposed to help relieve, not bring you pain.
And if walking doesn't work, try pregnancy yoga or another form of exercise during pregnancy.
While there is no concrete evidence that essential oils help induce labour, they may help relieve anxiety, nausea, and pain during the labour process.
A study done in 2019 showed that aromatherapy and essential oils help manage pain during different stages of labour, and burning a birthing candle or using castor oil during labour might not be such a bad idea.
Especially if you are experiencing high anxiety levels when going into labour or in delivery, essential oils can help ease anxiety. And because increased anxiety levels are linked to higher pain levels, reducing anxiety could mean the difference between a comfortable birthing experience and excruciating pain.
To help you stay calm during your delivery, Cradle and Tonic have created a selection of birthing candles that are blended with clary sage, rose, jasmine, and neroli essential oils that help you stay calm, encourage relaxation during early labour, and support deep and relaxed breathing throughout the birthing process.
Click the link to find out more about Cradle and Tonic’s candles.
It should be noted the use of clary sage in birthing products has been controversial in the past because it is linked to causing Braxton Hicks contractions, which can distress the baby or cause haemorrhage. But Cradle and Tonic have used it in a conservative way, such as not to induce premature birthing.
Even though essential oils help manage labour pains, they should not be used as substitutes for conventional medicine but complementary. And should only be used as directed by your doctor or midwife.
For a pregnant woman who has reached her due date and is already dilated, eating spicy food can cause stomach irritation much like castor oil does, which can cause cramping and uterus contractions and induce labour.
Still, other than this implausible scenario, there is no evidence supporting spicy food as a natural way to induce labour.
It is worth mentioning that fruits like dates, other than being highly nutritious, have been shown to reduce the need to induce labour for women who eat them during the last three weeks of their pregnancy.
And if you’re ready to give birth and eat spicy food as a way to induce labour, you are more likely to end up with an upset stomach than the latter.
So if you like spicy food and can handle a bit of heat, you can eat spicy food during pregnancy for what it is, just food and not a labour-inducing remedy.
There is evidence supporting nipple stimulation during pregnancy as a natural way to induce labour.
Rubbing or rolling the nipples aids in releasing the hormone oxytocin; this is the hormone that causes the uterus to contract and helps contractions last longer and become stronger. Hence, making nipple stimulation an effective way to induce labour with scientific backing.
In fact, in medical induction, doctors often use Pitocin, which is a synthetic form of oxytocin.
Stimulating your nipples also induces milk production, and if you breastfeed your baby after delivery, oxytocin will help your uterus heal back to its original size faster.
For effective nipple stimulation, you can use your fingers, a pump, or your partner’s mouth. You should focus on the areola and carefully rub and massage your nipples.
And to naturally induce labour, focus on one breast at a time and limit stimulation to five minutes with fifteen-minute breaks in between. Take a break from stimulation during contractions and stop when contractions are one minute or longer and three minutes apart.
Again, with any form of labour-inducing technique, you should talk to your doctor or midwife first and get a go-ahead from them if you’re a low-risk patient.
The jury is still out on this; if castor oil is a natural way to induce labour. Some people swear by its effectiveness, while others say it had no effect whatsoever.
Castor oil is a carthertic derived from the seeds of a plant called Ricinus Communis, native to India. When ingested, it can cause contractions through irritation, but often this is more due to bowel movement and diarrhea, not labour.
However, a recent study showed that using castor oil for women over 40 weeks pregnant could help induce labour within 24 hours. And women who took castor oil in pregnancy had a higher chance of going into labour than women who didn't.
If you would also like to try it out, do a little digging of your own, and remember to consult your doctor or midwife for the best approach.
Acupuncture can be a natural way to induce labour for those who can afford it. Women in Asia have used this technique for centuries with great success.
However, acupuncture pregnancy can only help women who are 40 weeks or less pregnant and not those who are post-term or 41 weeks plus.
There is an interesting case study of eight women who used electroacupuncture-induced labour as an alternative to medical induction. All eight women went into labour following acupuncture, suggesting it to be an effective way to induce labour naturally.
Though everyone is different in how they react to the treatment, acupuncture is a safe way to stimulate uterine contractions and cervical dilation when trying to induce labour.
However, it’s expensive, and being patient and saving that money for more critical things can be a more intelligent move.
Even though there is no proof that sex can jump-start labour, there is a good reason why you should try it. This is because having sex triggers the production of oxytocin, the same hormone that causes uterine contractions.
While semen, on the other hand, contains a hormone called prostaglandin, which helps ripen the cervix increasing the chances of having sustained contractions.
During a medical induction, synthetic forms of oxytocin and prostaglandin are used. And while they might not be as fun as sex, and with the costs related to a new baby already being over-bloated. Sex is a cost-effective way that a couple can reach out to help move the process along.
And other than it being a little uncomfortable for partners to try out depending on the setting, it’s nothing a little imagination and creative positioning can’t fix when having sex during pregnancy.
Sex play also involves the stimulation of breasts and nipples and an already proven way that induces labour. And with the compounding of all these effects, sex turns out to be a viable option to try when trying to induce labour naturally.
This natural labour-inducing method also receives positive reviews from doctors and midwives alike.
Acupressure pregnancy, just like acupuncture, has extensively been used in Asia to varying degrees of success and the validity of these claims remains in question.
Acupressure, unlike acupuncture, calls for using a blunt object like a thumb to apply pressure to specific pressure points on the body to induce labour hopefully.
A study done in 2017 on the effectiveness of acupressure as a way to naturally induce labor concluded that acupressure does not help induce labour but does leave your feet feeling relaxed.
This is important because the same study showed pain levels were lower in women who had had acupressure therapy beforehand than in those who didn’t.
Therefore, acupressure during pregnancy may not be the magic bullet you were looking for to help you induce labour. Still, it can help you reduce your anxiety levels, leading to a more comfortable delivery experience.
Can Complementary Therapies Help Labour to Start?
Complementary therapies like aromatherapy and reflexology can help start and induce labour in some cases. However, they don’t always work and should be approached with caution as some may bring on unintended effects such as GI upset and diarrhoea from using castor oil.
One undisputed advantage of using complementary therapies is their laxative nature, which helps mothers reduce delivery anxiety, leading to a better birthing experience, like burning a birthing candle.
So complementary therapies work in some cases, depending on the treatment, how far along one is in their pregnancy, and with expert guidance from your care provider. You can use complementary therapies to help start labour.
Does Pineapple Induce Labour?
There is no scientific evidence supporting that eating pineapples induces labour, and if you eat enough of them, they will give you heartburn.
However, there seems to be a consensus around pregnant women and women in general that ingests food that will upset the stomach, like spicy food, castor oil, or pineapple for that matter. May lead to uterine contractions.
The reason pineapples are believed to induce labour is that they contain bromelain. Bromelain is a protein-digestive enzyme that some women believe aids in ripening the cervix and cervical dilation in preparation for delivery.
However, from my limited knowledge in cooking, pineapples are used to tenderise steak because the meat is a protein, and bromelain is a protein-digestive enzyme.
So eating pineapple will provide you with nutrients such as copper and vitamin B, which are essential during pregnancy, but eating pineapple as a natural labour inducer might just be hearsay, but who are we to argue with the people who go through it, pregnant women.
Can labour be Induced Naturally?
Labour can be induced naturally through techniques like nipple stimulation, sex, acupuncture, and essential oils, or a combination.
Though, nipple stimulation and sex have more scientific backing than most, because when the body is stimulated in this way, it triggers the production of the hormone oxytocin in women, which is the same hormone responsible for contractions and the introduction of the hormone prostaglandin through sperm helps in ripening the cervix.
Oxytocin and prostaglandin are also some of the synthetic elements used by doctors during medical induction. Thus, sex and nipple stimulation are excellent natural ways to increase the levels of these hormones in the body, which will, in most cases, induce labour.
Waiting for labour to start when the baby is ready to come out would be the ideal situation. But sometimes, for different reasons, mothers seek out labour induction.
And with little to no health effects on the baby after 39 weeks of development, mothers can rest easy knowing that they will not be putting their baby to any harm.
But with numerous options and methods available to try out, it would be wise to do a bit of digging before settling on one. Again, consulting your doctor or your midwife and following their advice is paramount.
Hence, mothers have a choice between medical and natural safe ways to bring on labour if need be.