Ways To Induce Labor Naturally

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Inducing labor is the artificial start of the birth process through medical interventions or other methods. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), labor should be induced only when it is more risky for the baby to remain inside the mother’s uterus than to be born.  

Labor induction is likely to be suggested:

  • When a complication develops, such as hypertension, preeclampsia, heart disease, gestational diabetes, or bleeding during pregnancy.
  • If the baby is in danger of not getting enough nutrients and oxygen from the placenta.
  • The amniotic sac has ruptured but labor hasn’t started within 24-48 hours.
  • The pregnancy is prolonged beyond 42 weeks with possible risk to the baby from a gradual decrease in the supply of nutrients from the placenta.

If an induction date and medical intervention is looming, you might want see if the following alternative methods are a possibility.  Be sure to talk to your midwife or doctor at your next check-up before you try any of these methods. This is particularly important if there are any complications in your pregnancy, as there is little evidence about the safety of these methods in a high-risk pregnancy. 

  • Brisk Walking:  Walking can bring on contractions by stimulating your uterus mechanically.  If walking by itself doesn’t work, it can always be combined with another natural method.

  • Visualization:  Find a quiet place and use some the relaxation techniques on the Flourish Baby blog to help get you in the right frame of mind.  Then imagine your uterus contracting as well as the process of labor.  Hypnosis or self-hypnosis has been known to really do wonders.

  • Intercourse:  Having intercourse can induce labor by releasing prostaglandins (hormone-like substances that are like the medications used to induce labor). Make sure your water has not broken and your doctor or midwife has given you the green light.  It’s important for the man to ejaculate inside the vagina, because the ejaculate contains prostaglandins which stimulate the cervix, possibly leading to contractions.

  • Nipple Stimulation:  You can do this yourself, you can involve your partner, or you can use a breast pump or TENS machine.  

  • Acupressure / Acupuncture:  You can see a professional acupuncturist or browse the internet for finding your own pressure points.  Our favorite videos can be found here.  

  • Caster Oil:  This is often used a last resort because it can cause diarrhea (which, if your water is broken, can increase your risk of infection).  Drinking 2 ounces of caster oil will usually cause your intestines to cramp.  The theory is these cramps will bring on contractions if the right hormones are present.

  • Homeopathy:  Pulsatilla and Caulophyllum are two commonly used homeopathic remedies used to stimulate labor.  Contact a registered homeopath for further information and remember to talk to your doctor or midwife before taking anything.

  • Herbs:  The one of the  most common herbs for inducing labor is blue cohosh.  Consult an herbalist or naturopath for more information, and be sure to let your doctor or midwife know as well.  This video also has great information.  

Non-Chemical Interventions for Induction

  • Stripping the Membranes:  Your provider will insert a finger through the cervix to separate the membranes from the lower part of the uterus.  This is an intervention, but usually does not lead into the cascade of additional interventions.  

  • Transcervical Foley Balloon:  Also called a foley catheter, it can be used to ripen the cervix.  The balloon portion of the foley is inserted, deflated, into the uterus either.  The balloon is then inflated with saline solution and left in place.  The goal of this induction is to cause the cervix to mechanically open.  While this is an intervention, is does not rely on chemical or drugs.  This website has additional information.  

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