Eating curry, making love. If you’re reading this then chances are you’ve done both of these tried and tested methods to get labor started. But there has to be more ways of getting your baby ready to meet the world, right? Right! While patience is certainly a virtue, having a heavily overdue baby is often not, so here are a few ways to get things on the move…
If you have reached 37 weeks of pregnancy then it’s safe to start drinking raspberry leaf tea. This works to make contractions more controlled and therefore better at bringing your baby down the birth canal, but it can induce labor too so save this method only for the last two weeks of pregnancy.
For women who have had a baby before, a ‘membrane sweep’ may be familiar. This is a procedure carried out by a midwife at the 40 week antenatal appointment and involves simply wiping a finger around the neck of the womb, or cervix to stimulate the release of prostaglandins, the hormones which start labor off. For women having their second baby or any number after that, a membrane sweep will be offered at 41 weeks. You can have up to three of four sweeps before the midwife will consider other methods of induction to start labor. There is something that you and your partner can do to stimulate the release of prostaglandins too, and that’s to massage or even tweak your nipples. It’s a great excuse to spend more time in the bedroom, which we all know can induce labor too!
Taking castor oil used to be one of the most popular ways to get labor started, but please do note that it’s no longer recommended as it can cause dehydration. It works by sending the intestines into spasm (thought to then stimulate the uterine muscles), which is not the healthiest way to do it and can cause a nasty reaction!
If you visit your local reflexologist, masseur or acupuncturist you will most likely discover that they offer treatments for pregnant women to help induce labor. Do make sure that you visit a trained, qualified and certified practitioner and make sure they know about any complications in your pregnancy too as alternative therapies can be more effective than you think. You may even consider asking a practitioner to visit you at home if you have chosen to have a home birth, as some methods can encourage a calm and positive birthing experience.
Finally, light exercise can usually help with inducing labor in a relaxed and non alarming way to your baby. This might involve yoga, walking or swimming, but it shouldn’t be anything more strenuous than this or you can put you and your baby under too much pressure. Keep active, but don’t overdo it and remember to have regular breaks, drinking lots of water.
Waiting for labor can be very tedious and frustrating, but remember your baby could feel distressed if he or she is induced too early Try these natural and gentle ways to encourage labor and both you, your partner and your new addition will be happy, healthy and hopefully punctual!