Tips to Help Induce Labour
Earlier this week, an Anon Post was put on the eumom.ie Facebook page.
“I’m a week over due my baby. I’m scheduled to be induced soon, something I really don’t really wish to happen. Can anyone tell me if there is any way to help get this lo moving. I have tried so much already. Lots have said they will come when ready, which I also believe, just looking for something to avoid induction.”
Our Facebook users responded with 120 comments to offer advice and tips, recommending natural methods, exercise and membrane sweeps among other solutions. We have since compiled and researched their tips and highlighted the most important.
What is induction?
While most labours begin naturally, sometimes the process needs a little help. An induced labour is one that is started artificially; your doctor will generally offer an induction if there are serious risks prolonging your pregnancy, if you are overdue, if your waters have broken but labour has not started or if you have diabetes (in which case it is generally recommended that you are offered an induction around 38 weeks).
A membrane sweep also helps to stimulate labour for women who are overdue. In a membrane sweep, a midwife or doctor separates the membranes that surround your baby are gently separated from your cervix. Membrane sweeps can be uncomfortable and you may need several sweeps before the doctors can tell if the process has been successful.
Similarly, a prostaglandin tablet or gel can be used. Prostaglandin is a hormone-like substance which helps stimulate uterine contractions by ripening the cervix.
It is essential to take time to plan your method of induction; talk to your doctor or midwife about whether or not to have an induction and go through the positives and negatives associated with each process. Some methods will be better for your circumstance; depending on how “ripe” (ready) your cervix is for labour. It is imperative that you are comfortable and relaxed about the induction.
What natural remedies can I try?
There are many natural remedies for inducing labour promoted worldwide. It is often uncertain whether these things coincidentally bring on labour or if they genuinely work. Regardless, they are worth a try.
Acupuncture: In acupuncture, needles are inserted into specific points of the body to stimulate energy from within your body to act on the organs. There is little evidence to prove that it assists in bringing on labour, but it is useful for a form of relaxation and is safe in late pregnancy. Daily sessions are most likely needed to help.
Castor oil: Castor oil is essentially a really powerful laxative, which some believe stimulates the uterus. It divides opinion among people as many claim it can cause nausea and diarrhoea.
Curry/spicy food: As eating spicy food stimulates your tummy, many maintain that it also stimulates the uterus into action. Proceed with caution however, as spicy foods can cause tummy upset and heartburn.
Pineapple: Fresh (not canned) pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain which is said to help soften the cervix and bring on labour. However, pineapple contains only small amounts of bromelain so large amounts would have to be consumed to have any effect.
Nipple stimulation: By gently rubbing or rolling your nipples, some believe that you can encourage the start of contractions as oxytocin is released.
Rasberry leaf: Rasberry leaf is one thing that women frequently recommend. It can be taken in tea or in tablet form and is thought to stimulate the uterus, it is therefore essential that you do not use raspberry leaves until the last two months of pregnancy. Rasberry leaf also strengthens the uterine wall. If you wish to try this method, start by drinking one cup a day or taking one tablet before gradually building up to a maximum of four cups/tablets a day.
Sex: Sex is widely recommended for three reasons; orgasms can help stimulate the uterus into action; oxytocin can be released and semen contains prostaglandins to help soften the cervix. As long as your waters have not broken, there has been no vaginal bleeding, and you do not have a low-lying placenta; sex is safe for you and your baby.
Walking: the pressure of your baby’s head pressing down on the cervix can stimulate the release of hormone contraction oxytocin. Be careful not to exhaust yourself and take it easy if you have not done much exercise in your pregnancy to date. Climbing stairs is also recommended to encourage the baby to get into a good position.
Clary sage essential oil: Clary sage may also induce contractions, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional before use. Mix one part clary sage oil and one part almond oil (whatever is recommended by your doctor) and test on your arm for 12 hours to ensure there is no risk of allergy. If all is fine, massage the oil into the skin of the belly. You can also add a few drops of clary sage oil to a moisturiser (2 drops per 10ml of cream) and massage into the skin- again, you must mix the oil with another carrier oil such as almond.
Evening primrose oil: also recommended by some for ‘cervix ripening’; 2-3 500mg capsules can be taken orally or internally daily from 36 weeks.
Some also swear by bouncing on an exercise ball or driving your car down a bumpy road to encourage movement of the baby.
Remember, ultimately, your baby will come when it’s ready. In the meantime, keep yourself busy and preoccupied to stop you obsessing.
The birthing process is long and strenuous; take it easy and don’t exhaust yourself in the lead up. Stress will slow things down; so relax, breathe deeply and have hot baths to calm and soothe worries.