For pregnant women, one of the key milestones revolves around reaching one’s delivery date and the anticipation to meet the new bundle of joy continues to build up. Going through the nine months brings along with it fatigue and lack of sleep. This is what informs many mothers-to-be on the need for inducing labor.
The last few weeks of pregnancy seemingly stretch out forever, so much so that women past their due date may get anxious about the delay. It is important to note, however, that it is advisable for one to wait up to 40 weeks before inducing labor, whether naturally or medically – although the latter may be done in case there are pre-existing conditions. As a matter of fact, induction before 39 weeks must only be done where there is a valid medical reason; otherwise early induction predisposes the infant and mother to a myriad of health risks.
There are home remedies that have been recommended and passed down the years for the process of natural induction. Note, however, that a good number of these methods are anecdotal, and you must therefore let your doctor know what you plan to do to try and get labor started. This is critical because labor induction may increase the need for emergency medical intervention. The use of these remedies may not be suitable for women with fragile pregnancies, or who have had traumatic events during prior pregnancies.
Time Required: Varies
What You Need: Varies
One of the most popular remedies for starting labor is pretty much the same way the pregnancy started – by having sex. While there may be no scientific proof that sex triggers labor, theoretically there are a number of reasons why this is recommended is because sex allows the body to release prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like compounds found in semen which are known to enhance the ripening of the cervix, and thus trigger the onset of labor. Incidentally, prostaglandins are the very ingredients found in labor-inducing medication, and sex offers the same benefits with far fewer side effects.
In addition to this, having sex also aids the release of oxytocin, a hormone that is known to trigger the contractions of the uterine walls and kick-start the process of labor. It is thought that orgasms also trigger labor as they stimulate muscular contraction in the uterus. What’s more, sex is also an excellent way to bond with one’s partner and relax ahead of the long journey.
- Have lots of sex if you want to benefit from this remedy. Note however, that the parameters are varied as this differs from one couple to another.
- For the heavily pregnant woman, comfort is key and it is advisable to take up positions which cause minimal strain. This form of natural induction may even cause labor to progress well in the early stages.
NOTE: Do not have sexual intercourse if your waters have already broken. Failure to do this highly increases the chances of getting an infection which may place both mother and child at great risk.
2. Castor Oil:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 100 ml of castor oil and a glass of orange juice. Ice cream may also be used in place of orange juice
Castor oil is yet another home remedy that has long been recommended for the natural induction of labor. An excellent laxative, the oil stimulates the stomach muscles and increases the formation of loose stool. This in turn, automatically stimulates the contractions of the uterus and may allow for the progression of labor. Orange juice is used to provide a medium for the oil to be administered. Do not exceed the amount of castor oil provided as this may lead to explosive bouts of diarrhea which increases dehydration. On the flip side, a small amount of castor oil does not cause harm to the baby.
NOTE: Remember to check with your doctor before using this remedy.
- Add the castor oil to a glass of orange juice and stir well to mix the two ingredients well. You may also use ice cream to substitute the orange juice.
- Sip on the mixture slowly and monitor your body’s reaction to see if there is the onset of labor. If the side-effects if using the castor oil are extremely grueling, discontinue the use of this remedy immediately and make sure you let your doctor know.
3. A Relaxing Bath:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Warm bath water and 2 drops of lavender essential oil.
One of the key factors that contribute to labor progression is the pregnant woman’s emotional state. If one is anxious and agitated, this may delay or even stall labor altogether. In a relaxed state, a pregnant woman is likely to have labor take off with fewer hitches. The idea of getting a relaxing bath is to ensure that you remain calm and boost your mood so that you are in the right emotional state for labor to kick off. Add your preferred essential oil – lavender is an excellent example of a relaxing essential oil.
- Run the bath water and make sure the water is tepid. Bath water that is extremely hot not only increases the chances of scalding, it may also cause distress to the baby.
- Add a few drops of the lavender essential oil to the bath water and soak in it for at least half an hour.
- This should leave you feeling better and improve your mood altogether.
4. Spicy Foods:
Time Required: Varies depending on the specific food.
What You Need: Preferred spicy meals.
Spicy food is one of the longings for many a pregnant woman. This may be attributed to cravings and aversions, and may be of help s far as natural induction of labor is concerned. While there may be little scientific evidence of this, it is believed that the hot spicy food triggers labor by stimulating bowel movement to empty the stomach’s contents. This, in turn, leads to the stimulation of the uterine walls and allows for contractions to kick start the process of labor. What’s more, an emptied stomach makes it easier for the baby to move.
- Take small portions of spicy food. It is recommended to include garlic in your meals as it is thought to have active ingredients that contribute to the progression of labor.
5. Nipple Stimulation:
Time Required: Varies among individuals
What You Need: Warm massage oil
Nipple stimulation has been passed down the years as a home remedy for the natural induction of labor. This remedy, done over a considerable period of time, stimulates the pituitary gland to release oxytocin. This is the powerful hormone that starts off labor, and is also responsible for triggering milk let-down after delivery. Its synthetic form is what is found in popular drugs used to induce labor. Studies show that the stimulation of labor naturally can be just as effective as is the case when drugs are used.
Owing to the difficulty of stimulating just the nipples, it is known to be easier to stimulate the whole breast. It helps to have your partner assist, but make sure you are doing this carefully to prevent leaving the mother-to-be with sore tender nipples. This is important because doing so may place the pregnant woman in a tense emotional status which may counter all the progress made. Using some warm oil helps a great deal too.
- Have you or your partner apply the warm olive oil on the palms of their hands. This is recommended to prevent friction when massaging as this could cause discomfort..
- Start off with a slow rhythmic massage around the areola and right behind the nipple.
- Massage the breast outwards and repeat this as often as required.
- Some pregnant women prefer to use a breast pump, but manual stimulation works well for the most part.
6. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea:
Time Required: 35 Min
What You Need: 1 Cup of loose red raspberry leaf and 1 liter of filtered water.
Red raspberry leaf tea is recommended for natural labor induction. Taken regularly during pregnancy, the tea helps tone the uterine walls and also does well to strengthen the pelvic wall. Note however, that because it can cause intense stimulation in early pregnancy, it is advisable to avoid the tea in the first trimester. To induce labor naturally, take a double brew of the tea towards the end of the pregnancy. Prepare the remedy by following the simple directions indicated below.
- Boil 1 liter of filtered water and then lower the heat.
- Add the cup of loose red raspberry leaf and allow simmering for half an hour.
- Strain the mixture and drink the tea throughout the day to induce labor naturally.
7. Induction Massage:
Time Required: Varies
What You Need: A professional massage therapist and essential oils.
The purpose of an induction massage, as the name suggests, is to trigger labor. The massage therapist, who should be well versed and qualified in induction massage, will work on specific acupressure points which are often avoided during the pregnancy. This massage borrows from usual procedures, but is done with the intention of triggering labor. In addition to this, the massage helps calm tensions in the body and calm the mother-to-be. This is important because it allows her to stop, unwind and remain clear-headed. The use of essential oils works well to ease the massage.
- The massage therapist will apply the essential oils and use the techniques needed for specific acupressure points.
Other anecdotal home remedies that may be used to induce labor include consumption of date fruits, gentle exercises and acupuncture. It is also important to get adequate rest at night to avoid utter exhaustion even before labor begins.
The most important thing to note during labor induction is that it should be done past the given due date to ensure that both mother and child are in perfect health. Even then, one should let their doctor know that what remedy they are on in case there are any medical emergencies.