My cousin, who is on the very last leg of her fourth pregnancy – a few days shy of her due date! – sent me a message today asking about how to encourage labor naturally. So I thought I would write a post about it so everyone who is curious on this subject can check it out. As a precaution, don’t try any of these recommendations unless you are at your due date, unless you’ve consulted your doctor/midwife first!
1. Sex! I know this is the very last thing on your minds as you approach 40 weeks, but this is a tried and true method amongst midwives. When you have an orgasm, those contractions can lead to your body starting labor. Also, semen contains prostaglandins. which work to help ripen and soften the cervix, thus preparing it to dilate. It also helps stimulate contractions. Studies have also shown that ingesting semen orally may be even more effective, as it is absorbed much better by the gut than vaginally. Please note: don’t insert anything into your vaginal canal after your water has broken! This can increase risk of infection! Don’t do it! Also, applying warm compresses to your breasts and stimulating your nipples may also be effective in getting labor going, by releasing oxytocin into your bloodstream.
2. Cook up (or order in) some spicy food! Hot, spicy foods such as vindaloo curry, hot wings, etc. can help stimulate contractions as well! This works by causing spasms in your intestines, which are very close to your uterus at the end of pregnancy, and can trick your uterus into also contracting.
3. Visualize and Relax. Get comfy somewhere- like in bed or in a nice warm bath- and visualize our cervix opening. This is truly the key to induction, because the more tense and anxious you are, the more time your body may take to prepare itself. I’ve also heard that watching birth videos helps with the visualization process. Try to choose one that is calm and relaxed, though, as opposed to a long, painful labor.
4. Take a nice, brisk walk. I’m sure many of you have heard this tip from your doctors/midwives. That’s because it works, and helps your baby get into optimal position for delivery. Other movement is great, too! Try putting on some nice relaxing music and dancing slowly with your partner. The more you sway your hips, the better! You’ll loosen them up for labor. Really, any gentle movement is helpful.
5. Drink some cumin tea. This technique is traditional amongst the Latino midwife community. Mix 1Tablespoon of cumin seed into 1 cup of boiling water, and drop in a 1/2 inch raw potato cube (this helps with the bitterness). Feel free to also add sugar or honey to taste. Allow to steep five minutes before drinking, and do not drink more than 1 cup per day.
Now, I’m not going to guarantee that any of these will work. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that your baby will come when he or she damn well pleases! These solutions have been known to work in some women, but it may just be a psychological effect of the whole process. Either way, I’ve only listed the things that are not going to be harmful to you or your baby. There are some other techniques, which I will list below, which can be uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. I do NOT recommend them.
Blue Cohosh: Supposed to be very effective, but studies have linked it to infant heart attack. Yikes!
Castor Oil: Also very effective, but also works as a strong laxative, causing diarrhea, cramping, and dehydration in many people. None of those three things are desirable during labor!
Evening Primrose Oil: Taken orally, this one is fine. But many people insert the gel capsule into the vaginal canal, which can cause infection. Use caution.
DO NOT use any of the above three induction techniques without speaking to your doctor/midwife first!! If they say it is OK, and you are comfortable with the negative side effects, then go ahead. otherwise, don’t risk it!
Well, I hope these techniques are fruitful for all you impatient mommas out there! If you have any other techniques you would like to add to this list, comment below and tell us how it worked/is working for you! Happy laboring!