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At the end of pregnancy, many moms look for a way to bring on labor. Keep in mind that babies come when they are ready, but when your body shows signs of readiness you can sometimes give it a nudge to get things going. However, new research shows that babies are healthiest when they stay in the womb till at least 39 weeks. Because of this, not only will most doctors not induce labor at this point in pregnancy (without a medically indicated reason) but it’s also best to avoid natural induction methods until you have reached or past your due date. If you are at this point in pregnancy, read on for ideas on how to bring on labor.
Nipple stimulation may triggers the release of a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is released during labor and causes the body to have contractions. If you want to try nipple stimulation to bring on labor, here’s what you need to know. There is a couple of ways to stimulate your nipples, you can either gently roll or rub your nipples with your fingers, or you can use a breast pump. Using a breast pump may be more effective but some women find the pumping and contractions painful. When you use nipple stimulation, you want to stimulate until a contraction starts, around 5 minutes. Then wait to see what happens. If after fifteen minutes the contractions fizzle, massage or pump the other breast. If contractions start coming close together, take a break and let nature take its course.
Everyone has heard that having sex is the way to start labor. And if you’ve heard this idea, you’ve probably already tried it. Having sex does two things to help bring on labor. First, the act of having sex, especially with orgasm, can cause contractions. Secondly though, semen contains a substance called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help to ripen the cervix and prepare your body for labor. Having sex may not cause you to go into labor immediately, but it may help prepare your body for labor.
All your friends may be telling you that you need to walk to get labor going. Physical activity like walking may help your baby’s head to drop lower and put a little pressure on your cervix. Walking stairs may help even more though. Taking bigger steps may be why. When you take larger steps, you lift your legs higher and this position may put more pressure on your cervix than just ordinary walking.
There are numerous foods that supposedly induce labor. Most of the foods are based on wives’ tales, but there are a few foods that have properties in them that may actually help induce labor. Pineapples, for example, contain an enzyme called bromelain that may help to ripen the cervix. Other foods that may induce labor include spicy foods and foods that contain basil and oregano, or ginger may help to start labor.
Evening primrose oil (EPO) has been used to help soften the cervix. EPO contains a chemical that the body converts to prostaglandins. Like semen, prostaglandins help ripen a woman’s cervix. Research has been inconclusive as to whether or not EPO I actually effective at inducing labor, but many midwives recommend it to their patients to prepare for labor. To use EPO, you can break the EPO capsule open and rub it on your cervix, or you can insert the capsules vaginally.
When it comes to ways to naturally bring on labor, castor oil is probably the most controversial one. Castor oil is a strong laxative. It can cause intense intestinal cramping and diarrhea. Since the intestines are smooth muscle in close proximity to the uterus, which is also a smooth muscle, the intestinal ramping can spread from the bowels to the uterus and cause contractions. There are some moms that swear by castor oil, and even some midwives that still recommend it. However, most moms are unwilling to try this method and many others will insist that it does nothing but cause a bad case of diarrhea.
Membrane stripping is not something you can do by yourself. Your doctor or midwife can do what is known as a “membrane sweep” once your cervix starts to ripen. Stripping or sweeping your membranes can stimulate labor. Your doctor will reach inside of you and run his fingers around the edge of the amniotic sac, gently trying to separate it from your uterine wall. This can cause contractions and the release of prostaglandins which may jump start labor.
Acupressure is another natural method for inducing labor. Acupressure is similar to acupuncture. With acupuncture, a practitioner places fine needles at various points along the body to balance your energy flow. Acupressure is the same concept, but instead fingers are used to apply pressure to “pressure points.” A couple of pressure points are thought to cause contractions, one is located in the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. The other is located just above your ankle. Applying pressure to either of these two pressure points may help bring on contractions.
You should consult your doctor or midwife before considering herbs to induce labor. Herbs are not regulated by the FDA and can be dangerous if not taken at the proper dosage. This is why it is important to work with your midwife or an herbalist for instructions on when and how to use them. Some herbs that have been used to induce labor include black cohosh, blue cohosh, false unicorn root, and motherwort.
Soaking in a warm bath may help to get labor going. The rationale behind why baths help is two-fold. Soaking in the tub helps to relax you. There is evidence that stress and being uptight may keep you from going into labor. Anything that gets your mind off of the fact that you are still pregnant may help. Secondly though, soaking in a warm bath may help to soften up your cervix and prepare your body for labor.
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