With my due date looming I have been madly researching commonly suggested natural induction methods and have unfortunately found mostly only anecdotal evidence of their efficiency. But when your back is killing, you haven’t slept in days, the heartburn is increasing and you’re sick of the daily barrage of “have you had it yet” messages most women are willing to give most things a try. Some recommendations are evidence based; others, old wives tales and are ineffective and possibly harmful. Always check with your health care provider before trying any! Here are a few I’ll be trying to get this baby out on time:
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Raspberry leaf tea is a uterine tonic and comes in capsule, tea or tincture form and midwives with usually suggest it’s ingested from 32/34 weeks. Studies haven’t shown that it will actually start labour, but there is a small reduction in the length of second stage (pushing) and occurrence of post partum haemorrhage (PPH). A study conducted in 1999 at Westmead Hospital showed raspberry leaf tea shortened labour with no identified side effects for the women or their babies. The findings also suggested a decrease the likelihood of post-term gestation and need to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes. MaterniTea have a great range of pregnancy and postpartum teas that are full of natural goodies for uterine health. The CapaciTea is designed to strength, tone and prepare the uterus with its blend of nettle, red raspberry leaf, spearmint and peppermint. It comes in both loose tea and pyramid tea bags so you can enjoy it easily throughout the day. Check out the range at: https://maternitea.com
Evening Primrose Oil (EPO)
Evening primrose oil is said to help soften or ripen the cervix due to containing linolenic acid that triggers a prostaglandin response (a hormone in your body responsible for softening the cervix). EPO can be taken orally and inserted vaginally after 37 weeks. Most of the evidence is anecdotal with no formal studies proving the efficiency of EPO but its cheap and easy to get from the pharmacy/shops so a very popular natural induction choice. If you’re inserting it vaginally, remember to have clean hands and you might want to insert at night and wear a pad to bed, as it can get messy.
Although it seems like a horny husband made this one up, sex is a commonly suggested method for two reasons. Semen contains prostaglandins, which can help to ripen the cervix and when a woman experiences an orgasm, she produces oxytocin, a hormone that is needed for contractions. Studies have found no association between sex and pre-term birth, premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), or low birth weight in low-risk pregnancies, so it is relatively safe to continue sex throughout pregnancy unless you have been advised by your health care provider not to (issues such as previous premature labour or low lying placenta). You may need to look at different positions in order to find one that is comfortable, use plenty of lubricant if needed and listen to your body.
Nipple stimulation also produces oxytocin and can produce contractions. Massage the first nipple for 5 minutes and then wait to see what happens (around 15 mins or so) before doing the other side. Using a manual or electric breast pump can also help release oxytocin with the bonus of being able to collect and store any colostrum you get.
Acupuncture has been used very successfully for thousands of years to induce women who are overdue. Studies showed a success rate of 88% of stimulate labour in overdue women. It is best to start weekly sessions from 36 weeks and once you’ve hit your due date, the acupuncturist will use a few extra pressure points to help bring on labour.
Acupressure involves pressing and holding certain points on the body. Debra Betts has put together a brilliant document on acupressure, which shows some easy points you or your partner can do to help bringing on labour or help a stalled labour. Check it out at: http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/downloads/Acupressure.pdf
The study ‘The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery” concluded that the consumption of date fruit (6 to be exact) from 36 weeks significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour. Get creative! Date smoothies, sticky date pudding, date and apple slice, date and fruit platter! It might even help with pesky constipation!!
Walking and staying active
The pressure of your baby’s head pressing down on your cervix from the inside can stimulate the release of oxytocin, a hormone that causes contractions. Being upright also encourages your baby to move down onto your cervix and into an optimal position. Try bouncing on a fitball (in front of Netflix of course!) if your legs are feeling tired.