If you’ve reached or passed your expected delivery date (40 weeks of pregnancy), natural methods of induction are possible to stimulate labour or to ripen the cervix, especially when this is done to avoid undergoing a caesarean section.
Every development day your baby spends in your womb is important, particularly for their lung development, but after the 42-weeks mark, it becomes dangerous for the baby to stay inside the womb, and labor has to be induced.
But please be warned that: Inducing labor before 39 weeks increases the risk of complications of prematurity including difficulties with respiration, infection, feeding, jaundice, neonatal intensive care unit admissions, and perinatal death.
Important note prior to trying any labor induction method is to get a medical checkup and to have an approval from your doctor, especially if your pregnancy is high-risk.
So here are some methods for natural induction of labour:
1 - Sex: Sex is commonly suggested for natural induction due to semen containing prostaglandins – which help to ripen the cervix. But just make sure that ejaculation happens inside the vagina and that the membranes are intact (in other words, your water didn’t break). Also, the female orgasm can be effective. Orgasm induces the release of oxytocin– the labour hormone. So, feel free to pleasure yourself.
2 - Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been used successfully to induce labor in overdue pregnancy. Induction using acupuncture generally works within 6-48 hours of having your treatment. You might end up needing one to three sessions though.
3 - Acupressure and Induction Massage: A Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner can show your partner how to apply acupressure or induction massage to induce labor.
4 - Nipple Stimulation: Nipple stimulation produces oxytocin and can produce some strong effects, so you can try stimulating your nipples (including your areola, as a baby would when sucking) with your fingers, massaging one at a time. You can also ask your partner for some help! Massage the first nipple for 5 minutes, then wait around 15 mins before doing more.
5 - Evening Primrose Oil (EPO): Evening Primrose Oil has similar effect to prostaglandin, which helps to induce labor. It can be used orally and/or vaginally. An oral dosage is 2 of 500mg capsules daily. If you are taking it vaginally, you can do it by inserting 2 capsules directly to the cervix before bed. You might like to wear a pad or liner as it can get messy.
6 - Castor Oil: Castor oil acts as a stimulant to the bowels, which irritates the uterus and causes contractions. The side effects from castor oil can include: diarrhea and vomiting.
Some practitioners do not recommend castor oil because of potential side effects like dehydration (from loose stools and/or vomiting), fetal distress and meconium in the baby.It is always wise to talk to your midwife or doctor about how to use castor oil before doing so.
You can blend the castor oil with various fruit juices and ice. Though the higher volume of drink, the more you have to drink. Some women prefer just to do shots of castor oil and wash it down with juice or another drink. Some suggest that you use a warmer drink to remove the oily film from your mouth. You can also add it to an omelet with salsa.
Typically mothers spend a lot of time in the bathroom with diarrhea before noticing contractions. Though these contractions do not always progress to full blown labor. This can be seen as a type of cervical ripening agent anyway, which is a good step towards inducing labor soon.
7 - Black Cohosh: Black Cohosh is a herb used to encourage contractions and facilitate labour. Please note that the wrong dose may cause problems, so always consult your therapist.
8 - Raspberry Leaf: You can drink it as a tea. It’s safe and can be taken from the 12th week of pregnancy.
9 - Spices: Curry and Cinnammon: Can get the labour started. But be aware of the fact that it can cause diarrhea. Add to a meal of your liking.
10 - Dates: A study has found out that the consumption of 6 dates daily in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour.
11 - Pineapples: Tropical fruits like pineapple, mango and papaya contain an enzyme that is said to help soften the cervix, stimulate muscle contractions, and for shortening labor. Eating large amount of fresh pineapple can also kick start your digestive system, which is also said to be a way to kick start labor.
12 - Walking, and belly dancing help, but take some rest the night labour starts.