Can I Induce Labor?

What will make my body start labor?

The factors that cause labor to begin naturally are numerous, delicate and mysterious. Even today, scientists don’t fully understand the mechanisms that cause natural labor to begin, but researchers at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have found that one important trigger for labor is a protein that the baby’s lungs release when they are ready to begin functioning.

Is there a natural way for me to induce labor?

Over the centuries, many folklore-based methods of inducing labor have been handed down. The majority of these have not been scientifically proven effective, but if trying one of these tricks makes you feel like you’re being proactive, check with your doctor and then go ahead. Each of these methods has its proponents, who will swear that it works:

  • Dancing: As long as your doctor hasn’t told you to restrict activity, you can dance all you want to.
  • Sexual activity: Some research does indicate that having sex, especially when your partner ejaculates inside your vagina, can stimulate the beginning of labor. Semen contains prostaglandins that may be helpful in softening the cervix. If you’re close to your due date, however, you need to be certain that your water hasn’t broken. Nipple stimulation may also be slightly helpful, since it encourages your body to secrete tiny amounts of oxytocin.
  • Taking a long walk: As long as you don’t exhaust yourself, staying active is a great way to pass the time waiting for your new family member to arrive.
  • Acupuncture Research at the University of North Carolina found that women who received acupuncture were 20% more likely to go into labor spontaneously, and 50% less likely to need C-section deliveries. More research is clearly needed, but acupuncture is certainly safe to try.
  • Castor Oil: Talk this option over with your doctor before you try it. Developing a serious case of diarrhea can dehydrate and tire you right before an event when you need all your energy, and there’s no hard research indicating that it really helps bring on labor.
  • Spicy Food: This one is pure folklore, so be sure you really like the spicy food you eat. Then at least you’ll benefit from a meal you enjoy!
  • Herbs: Some herbs are pharmaceutically active, and the active compounds in them can vary drastically in strength depending on their source. Consult a skilled herbal medicine practitioner and speak with your doctor before trying this route.

I’m past my due date. Can my doctor give me something to start labor?

In general, doctors avoid medically inducing labor in a healthy mother before about 42 weeks of gestation. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states, “The benefits of labor induction must always be weighed against the potential maternal and fetal risks associated with this procedure.” As long as your baby is doing well inside you, your doctor is probably inclined to wait for nature to take its course.

Image courtesy of Fit Mama 4 Life


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