Do These Natural Methods REALLY Help Induce Labor?

Induce LaborIf you’re tired of waiting for your baby to arrive and you’re looking for a magic formula to help get your labor started, check out some of these ideas to help coax your baby out of the womb.

Many expectant moms find the last couple weeks of pregnancy to be the most difficult, especially if you’ve already passed your due date, you’re tired of feeling like an uncomfortable, bloated whale and none of your shoes fit anymore. If this sounds like you, chances are you’ve already tried taking really long walks, having marathon sex (your partner loved helping with that!) or eating super spicy foods. Obviously, if your situation truly warrants it, doctors have safe and proven methods for inducing labor with medications administered at the hospital.

However, if your doctor still has you in the “wait and be patient” mode, but you feel like you’re out of patience and on a crazy desperate quest to get those contractions going, read on for some science and wizardry on ways to help naturally induce your labor.

There are so many old wives tales regarding pregnancy…. beginning with the shape of your belly determining the sex of your baby, to worrying if you stretch you hand over your head you might strangle your baby with the umbilical cord (definitely not true BTW!).

Can Sex, Orgasm or Exercise Bring on Labor?

I was always a little bit skeptical about the idea of sex or orgasm bringing on labor. But I wanted to be fair, so before I totally brushed the idea aside, I delved a bit further and had my suspicions somewhat confirmed. According to WebMD, there is little evidence suggesting that anything involved with intercourse or sexual intimacy influences birth. Although they did cite some sound medical reasoning that the hormones found in male semen, called prostaglandins, might actually contribute to cervical ripening, which helps prepare the cervix for labor.

As far as exercise is concerned, in most pregnancies it comes highly recommended as a part of your daily routine anyway. Plus, taking advantage of the natural pull of gravity while walking or exercising surely couldn’t do you any harm either.

Can What You Ingest Bring about Contractions?

This is one of my personal favorites, because it provides justification for eating whatever foods you deem might work. And no one in their right mind would ever grab the fork out of the mouth of a crazy pregnant woman anyway, would they? I have one friend who swears eating bison burgers brought on the labor for both of her pregnancies. Here in Los Angeles, urban myth has it that “The Salad” at Caioti Pizza Café in Studio City can bring on labor for overdue moms…. the secret is thought to be in the salad dressing? Who really knows? All I know is a piece of pizza with that salad sounds pretty darn awesome, so I wouldn’t be shy about adding some justification for enjoying all of those indulgences. And no one’s going to argue with you….after all, you’re close to 40 weeks pregnant and armed with some pretty crazy hormones, so you’re clearly in the safe zone for receiving any criticism for it.

There’s also the legend about eating spicy foods to bring on contractions. Again, another one of my favorites, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to justify to you just how many platefuls of nachos, double laced with extra jalapenos, I ate during my first pregnancy.

Most of us are familiar with the idea of drinking castor oil as a means for inducing labor and I’ve read several online forums where some women swear it helped bring on their labor. While there’s no scientific method for either proving or disproving any of these endorsements, it should be noted that castor oil is most commonly used as a laxative, so there’s some speculation that associated bowel contractions might somehow play into thereby stimulating uterine contractions? Hmmm….I think I’ll leave this one alone.

Evening Primrose is a natural oil that's often mentioned as being an aid to help ripen the cervix and bring about labor. I found varying opinions for using this oil, some women took oral doses and others mentioned something about inserting tabs vaginally before bedtime. There seemed to be such a wide variation of opinions about using this oil, so you should definitely discuss it with your health care professional before considering using it.

Nipple Stimulation and Labor….ahem?

The concept of using nipple stimulation to help induce labor, popped onto my radar towards the end of my research and it was a suggestion that I was unfamiliar with. Although I wasn’t able to find any medical documentation substantiating this theory, I did find several Natural Childbirth websites that suggested nipple stimulation could increase the release of oxytocin, which is thought to be important in helping with uterine contractions. The concept being that it can trick your body into thinking your baby is already nursing and it's also supposed to help with shrinking the uterus after your child is born too.

The one common thread I did find with using nipple stimulation to help bring on labor, is that even if it doesn’t work, there really isn’t any downside or side effect from using it. So at the very least, if you’ve passed your due date, it might just feel great and possibly take your mind off stressing over not being in labor yet! You might even consider bringing your partner into the party on this one.

As always, if you’ve become overly concerned or stressed about not being in the delivery room yet, you should always seek the advice of your professional health care provider first in order to determine what’s best for your individual situation.