How to Induce labour naturally?

How to Induce labour naturally?

Induction of labour is a term used to describe an intervention that is intended to cause labour to begin (AIHW, 2019). The reasons for medical induction are vast and supposedly used when the pregnancy risks are deemed greater than those associated with continuing with the pregnancy until labour begins naturally (McDonell, 2011).

Unfortunately, Australia and much of the world now experiences medical induction of labour as extremely common within the hospital setting. An Australian study that was active between 2004 to 2017 saw that out of 80% of birthing women (20% have elective caesarean sections), 59.8% of women have labour induced or augmented when their pregnancy is considered prolonged (Australian Government Department of Health, 2019).

Going into labour naturally is both safer and healthier (Terreri, 2020), unless there are strong medical indications to be induced. So, what are some tried and tested ways to get the process started?

A ‘’Stretch and Sweep’’
Your midwife or doctor can sweep the membranes, which releases hormones or prostaglandins that encourage cervical ripening and thinning out. It is safe and can be done daily if needed (Westmead Hospital, 2019). This method is done with a vaginal examination, and some women report it to be uncomfortable, however it is a worthwhile method to try.

Clitoral Stimulation and Sex
Clitoral stimulation and female orgasm will produce an abundance of the ‘love’ hormone, Oxytocin. This may kick-start your early labour.  Sex is recommended because sperm contains prostaglandins, which are cervical ripening agents. You may need to try these methods more than once!

Nipple Stimulation
Not only is it beneficial to store some of your colostrum for later use, nipple stimulation can also release oxytocin. You can try to stimulate the nipple with expressing for a few minutes each hour, or multiple times throughout the day to release these hormones. Many find that you will need to stimulate the nipple gently throughout the day to feel the effects.

Acupressure Points
There are easy to access online resources to find successfully find and use acupressure points to stimulate labour. These points can be used by you and your partner to stimulate these points on your body from 36 weeks, encouraging your cervix to soften and thin. Debra Betts’ online resources are fantastic and easy to follow with pictures, videos and easy to follow instructions. Different acupressure points can be used not only to induce labour, but for labour pain, nausea and more (Betts, 2020).

Acupuncture and Reflexology
Using certain acupuncture points and pressure points can stimulate labour. Please be sure to find a recommended and suitable practitioner for pregnancy and your needs.

Herbal Supplements
There are a range of herbal supplements that are thought to help induce labour, such as blue and black cohosh, evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf extract and more. However, there is little evidence at the present to prove their effectiveness.

Evening Primrose Oil
This is a method to ripen and soften to the cervix with the linoleic acid found in it. Used orally or internally, it is said to imitate prostaglandins. An oral dose of 2-3 500mg tablets from 36 weeks, or vaginally, you can insert 2-3capsules up into the cervix before bed. Though there isn’t enough scientific evidence as yet to support its use, some women do claim it works (Medical News Today, 2019). There are also some contraindications, such as women who take the anticoagulant, warfarin (Medical News Today, 2019).

There are many other known methods to induce labour, some are proven and some are not. These methods include: eating date fruits, exercise, drinking castor oil, and more and are all worth reading, trying and/or researching. There is massive value in going into labour naturally, so if these methods help you to avoid an induction, they are worth trying!

References:

  1. Australian government department of health. (2019). 62 Prolonged Pregnancy.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). National Core Maternity Indicators.
  3. Betts, D. (2020). Debra Betts-Acupressure for Pregnancy and Childbirth. Retrieved from https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/
  4. Can evening primrose oil help induce labour? (2019). Medical News Today.
  5. McDonnell R 2011. Induction of labour. O&G Magazine 13(3):62–4.
  6. Terreri, C. (2020). Why it’s worth waiting to go into labour.
  7. Women’s & Newborn Health. Westmead Hospital. (2019). Natural ways to bring on labour.

 

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