Midwife Bel Moore shares some top natural induction tips for when you’re keen to get that baby out and avoid a medical induction.
If your pregnancy continues beyond your due date (usually 40 weeks past your last menstrual period), you are considered ‘overdue’- in fact, stats show only about 4 per cent of babies are actually born on their due date.
Being overdue can be both physically and mentally hard, you may be increasingly uncomfortable with back and pelvic pain, experiencing Braxton hicks, sleeping poor, have bad heartburn and have a daily barrage of messages about if you’ve had the baby yet.
Here are some commonly suggested natural induction techniques if you’re keen to get that baby out and avoid a medical induction (some backed by research…and some old wives tales)!
Bel’s top 10 natural induction techniques
1. Evening Primrose Oil (EPO)
Evening primrose oil is said to help soften or ripen the cervix due to containing linolenic acid which 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 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 safe to have sex throughout pregnancy unless you have been advised by your health care provider not to. 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.
3. Nipple Stimulation
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 on acupuncture and it’s effect showed that using acupuncture to stimulate labour in overdue women had a success rate of 88 per cent. 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 that either you or your partner can do. If effective, acupressure will feel pleasant and should not be used if there are any feelings of discomfort.
6. Eat dates
A study concluded that the consumption of date fruit from 36 weeks significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour.
Try our recipe for Date And Oat Bliss Balls (pictured above) to get your date fix!
7. Raspberry Leaf Tea
Raspberry leaf tea is a uterine tonic and come in capsule, tea or tinture form and usually suggested 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 postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). You have to drink a fair bit of the tea (3-4 cups a day) so most op for the tablets.
8. 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 an exercise ball (in front of Netflix of course!) if your legs are feeling tired.
Get your Healthy Mummy exercise ball here!
9. Spicy Food / Curry
Spicy food and curry gives some people diarrhoea, which may irritate the bowel, which is close to the uterus and therefore can get labour started.
It may not be something everyone wants to try, but we have plenty of spicy recipes on our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge Recipe Hub and on our website including our Spicy Guacamole Dip (pictured above)!
10. Sweeping Membranes
Sweeping of the membranes may be offered by your midwife or obstetrician at your 40 week visit and involves separating the membranes from the cervix via a vaginal exam.
This may be a little uncomfortable for some women and spotting or bleeding can occur. You may have irregular contractions after a sweep, which may be uncomfortable and still not progress into labour or if your midwife has the magic fingers, you may be back in that day having your baby!