LookingForClues - Article

  Naturally Inducing Labor

Are you pregnant?  The last weeks of pregnancy can be uncomfortable.  When you are near term, you may have discussed inducing labor with your doctor.  Did you know that there are natural ways to induce labor?  Don't try to induce labor if you are less than 40 weeks pregnant.  But if you and your doctor or midwife have decided to induce labor, be aware that methods exist of Naturally Inducing Labor. 

Please read our article further down on this page - "Naturally Inducing Labor".  It was written by a woman who had two pregnancies that went past their due dates.  Learn which methods of Naturally Inducing Labor worked for her.  This article is not intended to be medical advice. Be sure to check with your doctor before undertaking any actions that might affect your pregnancy.

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Naturally Inducing Labor

by Elizabeth Walling   8/27/06

An array of doubts and worries are associated with the last weeks of pregnancy. Both of my pregnancies went past the due date, so I am more than familiar with the anxiety of wondering if you might be pregnant forever. During my first pregnancy, I received prenatal care in the typical contemporary hospital, where induction is very popular. My doctors even suggested inducing labor before the 40 week mark. I personally consider medical induction a last resort, and I know many women feel the same way, so it helps to know there are a few natural ways to help start active labor.

It is important to realize that it's never wise to try to induce labor in any way if you are less than 40 weeks pregnant. If your due date is inaccurate, you do not want to risk giving birth to a baby that will have difficulties surviving outside the womb. It is also best to always be under the supervision of a doctor or midwife when trying to induce labor naturally. Even if you just have a casual phone conversation about natural induction, it is important that your care provider is at least aware of your actions so they can give you the best of care.

One of the least invasive ways to naturally induce labor is walking. Not only is it good exercise for pregnant women, but the upright motion can help move the baby into the birthing position. If you are having pre labor contractions, you may also find that walking can help you feel more comfortable during them. I personally used my treadmill several times every week for exercise during both of my pregnancies, and though it helped keep me in shape, I am not certain if it truly helped bring on contractions.

Prostaglandins help ripen and soften the cervix. A ripened cervix promotes dilation and helps move the baby deeper into the pelvis. These things can help trigger labor. Prostaglandins are present in semen, which is one reason that intercourse can help induce labor. Also, you can increase prostaglandin levels by using evening primrose oil. This method is very simple, since evening primrose oil is available almost anywhere that sells vitamins and supplements. Evening primrose oil can be taken orally as early as 34 weeks. After 38 weeks, evening primrose oil capsules can also be inserted vaginally to come in direct contact with the cervix. I did not know about this method until I was already overdue with my first baby, so the evening primrose did little to stimulate that labor. However, I used the time table recommended above during my second pregnancy, and gave birth only two days after my due date and after only six hours of labor. I do think this method contributed to the ease of my second labor.

For years, women have used castor oil to induce labor. It is thought that the intestinal spasm caused by ingesting castor oil can also trigger contractions in the uterus. However, castor oil has a very unpleasant taste, and the side effects of castor oil can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant for a pregnant woman. There is also some speculation about the association between castor oil and meconium staining. I tried this method with both pregnancies. It never triggered my labor, but I did experience all of the unpleasant side effects.

A common herbal method used to induce labor is the use of black and blue cohosh. These herbs are thought to make uterine contractions stronger and more regular. Together, they can help make contractions more effective. Keep in mind there have been no studies to prove the safety and effectiveness of these herbs. I never tried this method because I was uncomfortable with the warnings I had read about concerning black and blue cohosh.

Nipple stimulation is another method used to naturally induce labor. Nipple stimulation releases oxytocin, and oxytocin is the hormone that causes contractions. These contractions sometimes lead into labor. Many practitioners are not fond of this method, since it can lead to the longer and stronger uterine contractions associated with the slowing of the fetal heart rate. However, it is also believed that because the oxytocin produced by nipple stimulation is natural, it is safer than using Pitocin, or synthetic oxytocin. Either way, it is best to use this method only with the close supervision and monitoring of your doctor or midwife. Keep in mind that hours of stimulation may be necessary to get strong contractions started, so this method can be quite inconvenient unless you are truly trying to avoid medical induction.

Now please read our articles on
Postpartum Depression and
Pregnancy Symptom Remedies

The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn't be discouraged if your labor does not start right away. It is common for induction to fail if your body is not otherwise ready for labor. It is important to relax, because stress itself can cause further delay of your labor. Your baby will arrive on his or her own time, sooner or later. Your joyous celebration of life can happen whether your baby is on time or a little late.

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