A lot of our clients nearing their “due date” ask us, “What are some natural induction methods?” The best, most effective, and safest way is waiting for labor to start on its own. Waiting for labor to start can be a mind game. Studies suggest only 5% of women go into labor on their due dates and that due dates can range from 2.5 weeks before to 2.5 weeks after your “due date”. In addition, ACOG recommends AGAINST inductions before 39 weeks gestation unless there is a medical indication (a suspected large baby is not a medically indication).
Some of our clients are given a deadline of when to give birth by due to their high-risk pregnancy. Here are some alternative inductions techniques that might work for you. We use the word “alternative” instead of natural because these are just alternatives to chemical induction methods. These are still induction techniques. The most natural thing to do is of course wait.
**Disclaimer: Do not attempt any of these techniques without checking with your doctor or midwife.**
Nipple or Breast Stimulation
Nipple and/or breast stimulation produces Oxytocin, which causes contractions. One study found, “Forty-six per cent of the patients went into labor compared with 12% in the control group.”1
“Nipple stimulation reduces the frequency of elective labor induction, the rate of relevant complications, and supports normal vaginal birth by providing endogenous labor induction. Therefore, these interventions should be considered for pregnant women in labor.”2
Another study found, “Results showed that breast stimulation reduced the number of pregnancies managed as postdates from 17 per 100 (17%) to five per 100 (5%) (p less than 0.01), a 70% reduction. It is concluded that breast stimulation in postdates pregnancies can decrease significantly the number of patients that must be monitored by biochemical or biophysical means.”3
A different study found that women who practiced nipple and unilateral breast stimulation had better bishop’s scores, and there was no hyper-stimulation of the uterus. 4
Semen has prostoglandins which help to soften the cervix. It helps if the woman orgasms as well as it releases Oxytocin (the love hormone) which stimulates contractions. Studies suggest that women who have sexual intercourse had an earlier onset of labor and reduced requirement for labor induction at 41 weeks.5
Acupressure and Acupuncture
There are acupressure points on the feet, legs, shoulders, hands, and the roof of your mouth that can help stimulate the uterus and cause contractions. Studies have shown evidence of a benefit from acupuncture in improving cervical readiness for labor. One study claims “the average time from Acupuncture induction until delivery was 13.1 hours and the success rate of Acupuncture to induce overdue labor to be between 68-83%”.6 Our doula is very skilled at these acupressure techniques and can show you how to locate them. Contact her to schedule your free consultation.
Clary Sage Oil
Clary Sage oil is a natural uterotonic which means it causes contractions. This method can be more effective when applied on the acupressure points that stimulate the uterus and cause contractions. Clary Sage oil is also known for its relaxing and pain relieving properties.
Labor Inducing Massage and Reflexology
A prenatal massage and/or reflexology are both fantastic and relaxing. Be sure to check that they are trained in working with pregnant women. Massage can help lower your stress hormones . It will also help raise feel-good hormones. Lowering stress hormones can help aid in the natural labor process.
Webster Certified Chiropractic Care
A chiropractor can help adjust you so that your baby can navigate your pelvis easier which can help start labor. You won’t dilate as well if baby is not applying pressure to the cervix. You can also decrease your risk of cesarean delivery with a well-aligned pelvis.7 Webster certification tells you they are certified to work on pregnant women.
Evidence suggests that eating six dates per day until labor leads to lower inductions, shorter first stage of labor, and lower Pitocin (synthetic Oxytocin) rates.8
The bromelain in fresh pineapple is said to help get labor started. Studies suggest that fresh pineapple may help bring on contractions.9
Curb walking is done by placing one foot on the curb and one foot on the street and walking. This can help rock the baby lower in the pelvis and encourage the cervix to dilate. It is helpful to switch sides.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (RRL Tea)
Most women start drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea during the second or third trimester. RRL tea helps tones the uterus and can cause contractions. One study suggests that RRL may shorten labor and decrease the likelihood of pre-term and post-term babies. “An unexpected finding in this study indicates that women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a cesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group.”10
The care provider puts their finger inside the cervix and separates the bag of waters from the uterus near the cervix. Membrane stripping can cause contractions and prostaglandins to be released. Studies suggest that having it done before 41 weeks shows no benefit. If done at 41 weeks, it can decrease your chances of going to 42 weeks from 41% to 23%.11 Though membrane sweeping may increase your risk of premature rupture of membranes. Studies also suggest that if it doesn’t work within 48 hours, it’s not going to.
Evening Primrose Oil (EPO)
Evening primrose oil contains prostaglandins which help to soften the cervix. This can be inserted vaginally or taken orally. Some studies have linked EPO taken orally with postpartum hemorrhage, “prolonged rupture of membranes, oxytocin augmentation, arrest of descent, and vacuum extraction.”12 It has been shown to improve bishop’s score and cervical length.13
Much like Evening Primrose Oil, it contains prostaglandins which help to soften the cervix, and it is NOT linked to the same side effects as EPO. This can be inserted vaginally.
Crawling on all-fours
Do all of your household cleaning: mopping, scrubbing, etc. on all-fours. Crawling helps get your baby in the correct position (OA – occiput anterior) which can aid in starting labor.
Squatting can help move your baby down into your pelvis and help aid in cervical dilation.
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