12 Ways to stimulate natural labour
When mums are drawing nearer to their due date anxiety can creep in regarding whether baby will decide to come naturally or whether a medical induction may be deemed necessary by their obstetrician, this worry can actually inhibit the production of the hormones that are needed for a natural labour to begin so it is really important for mums to stay as calm as possible and to wait for their bodies to do what is natural!
Remember that a normal pregnancy is anything between 37 and 42 weeks depending of various factors, mum’s menstrual cycle is an important one. Broadly speaking most babies come when they are ready but occasionally it is medically indicated to induce baby before mum goes into labour and this is important to remember.
However there are instances where mums are pressured into giving permission for medical induction for reasons that are not evidence based so do make sure that you ask questions and are happy that if medical induction is offered to you then it is done for a good solid medical reason.
When medically necessary, an induction can be a lifesaving procedure and can allow a birthing woman the opportunity to attempt a vaginal birth
In some countries, 30-50% of birthing women receive Syntocinon or Pitocin (artificial oxytocin) which is administered via an intravenous drip. A medical induction can sometimes lead to a longer, more intense labour as mum’s body is being pumped with synthetic hormones, her body hasn’t produced them naturally in the normal, natural process which means that her body is shocked into going into labour and thereby isn’t prepared in the same way as a mum who goes into labour naturally.
A woman’s body produces the hormone Oxytocin when she is ready to give birth, this hormone causes the uterus to start contracting and anything mum can do to promote this hormone is a good way to stimulate natural labour.
Here are some suggestions for things to try which may encourage mum to go into labour naturally when her body is ready, I like to call these “natural nudges” and are perfectly safe for both mum and baby.
- The number one factor in my opinion is to choose a provider with a low induction rate, this is a question that you can ask at initial appointments.
- Love making – any kind of love making (preferably resulting in orgasm for both mum and dad) can be a great way to get things moving. At orgasm mum has a surge of natural oxytocin. Another important factor is that male semen contains prostaglandins which can help soften the cervix. Funnily enough the first stage of a medical induction tends to be the insertion of a synthetic prostaglandin pessary into the vagina, surely it is much better to use the real thing!! Do please note that it is not advised to have penetrative sex if the amniotic sac has been ruptured (waters have broken) as this could introduce infection.
- Any kind of sexual stimulation – nipples, clitoris (again preferably resulting in orgasm).
- Close physical and eye contact with mum’s partner.
- Massage – either light touch (which tends to make you tingle and produce oxytocin and endorphins) or a more firm massage, whatever makes mum feel good! If deciding to have a proper massage make sure that your therapist is trained in prenatal massage.
- Surrounding yourself with things (smells, music, pictures) that make you feel good, make you feel safe, secure, comfortable and confident. A mum needs to have a feeling of well being to go into labour naturally
- Maintain a healthy diet and activity level
- The use of essential oils – Evening Primrose Oil, Clary Sage Oil, again please make sure that you consult with an expert before using.
- Raspberry leaf tea – many people believe that drinking this can help labour start but there isn’t a lot of evidence to support this.
- Eating pineapple, spicy food, dates.
Do try all or any of the above but try not to get too obsessed with hurrying labour along! Your bodies are made to make and give birth to babies so try and trust that they know when to start labour. It is so difficult in those last few weeks when you are so excited about meeting your baby but really try and relax, rest, stay active, well nourished and hydrated and enjoy those last few days of freedom!