What are the best ways to naturally induce labour?

Many people believe that to have a succesful hypnobirth, you must labour completely naturally. However, this is not the case. There are plenty of reasons why pain relief, medical intervention and inductions are valid and necessary. Which is why my hypnobirthing course covers all of these points. I also discuss with my clients ways to naturally induce labour. The big benefits of naturally inducing labour are it can help to avoid a medical induction, which can lead to more interventions. It might also be that you have had enough of pregnancy and want to speed things along!

Exercise

Anything that gets the heart rate going and keeps you up and mobile can help to naturally induce labour. The exercise should be gentle though, or in line with your own fitness and exercise routine. A brisk walk is often believed to help. This is because being upright will help allow the baby to descend in the uterus. The extra pressure on your cervix can also stimulate it to begin dilating.

Sex is also a good form of exercise to naturally induce labour, as it has all the benefits of conventional exercise with the added bonus of a release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone needed for labour to start.

Spicy food

One of the most commonly suggested ways to naturally induce labour, but unfortunately with little real effect or evidence. The problem with eating spicy food is that it needs to be much spicier than what you are used to. This is so spices disturbs the bowel, and then stimulates the uterus. Personally, I can think of better ways to start labour! Especially as that spicy food will need to come out!

Nipple stimulation

This is the one that when I mention, most of my hypnobirthing clients look at me like I’m crazy! But, your nipples are directly linked to your uterus. After birth, your uterus tells your breasts and nipples to start making milk. The suckling motion of your baby during breastfeeding tells your uterus to start shrinking back and healing. Breastfeeding can also start contractions again to make birthing your placenta more effective. It’s a great assistance from mother nature. Under this basis, it can be presumed, nipple stimulation can at least help strengthen your contractions and speed labour up, if not start it.

Raspberry leaf tea

Raspberry leaf tea, although does not naturally induce labour, it does have other benefits later in pregnancy. (It is not recommended before 36 weeks). There are no reliable, evidence based figures on drinking raspberry leaf tea. But it is generally regarded as a good way to strengthen the uterine muscles, and many people drink it to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. With stronger uterine muscles, in theory, contractions should be more effective.

I drank raspberry leaf tea, and took capsules, during both of my pregnancies. Mainly because there is no harm from drinking it, psychologically I wanted to know I was doing as much as possible to prepare for birth, and it kept me hydrated at least. It is impossible to say how my births would have gone if I had not drunk any. However, my second labour was only forty minutes, so it is safe to say I had strong uterine muscles!

Eating dates

Eating dates is the most studied and proven way to naturally induce labour. This is because dates have an oxytocin like effect on the body, and oxytocin is the labour needed for labour to start. For the dates to be effective, you need to eat around six per day. So the only negative to consider would be the extra sugar in your diet.

A study published in 2014, called ‘The Effect of Late Pregnancy Consumption of Date Fruit on Cervical Ripening in Nulliparous Women found, women who ate 70-75g of dry dates per day were:

  • 55% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin
  • 68% more likely to have a vaginal delivery after an induction
  • 43% lower rates of cesarean section
  • 51% lower rates of assisted birth

What are the negatives if you naturally induce labour?

Although all of these methods to naturally induce labour are ‘natural’, you might be speeding your body , and baby, up into something that it might not be quite ready for. Women who wait for labour to start on its own, generally recover quicker. For your baby, it will have more time to build muscle strength, have a reduced risk of low blood sugar and jaundice, have increased brain development and will be potentially better at breastfeeding.

Indcutions of labour, medical and natural, as well as many other antenatal topics, are all covered in my hypnobirthing course. This is to enable you to go through pregnancy, and labour, with as much knowledge and power as possible. Because ultimately, it is knowledge and understanding which will help you to have a more positive birth. If you want to find out more about my courses, contact me.

This article is intended to be conversational, and to get you thinking about birth. It is not intended as medical advice. If you have any questions regarding the topics covered, please consult with your midwife.

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