Natural Methods of Induction

It is quite normal to want to try and speed things up and there are various different methods out there that are said to be effective in starting labour.
Most of them are old wives tales and you can work your way down the whole list, doing each and every one of them several times over – but if your baby is not ready to be born, it will not make the blindest bit of difference.

However, there are a couple that are evidence based ones that might be worth a try: Dates – some trials have found eating 6 dates a day from 36 weeks of pregnancy may increase cervical ripening, reduce the need for medical labour induction or augmentation and one small study found a positive effect on postpartum blood loss (Decker. R, 2017). By the way, don’t do this if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Nipple stimulation – we know nipple stimulation produces oxytocin and there is some evidence to suggest stimulating the breasts either by hand or by a pump can be successful in sending a heavily pregnant woman into labour. In studies where women were encouraged to stimulate their breasts from 38 weeks, there was an increase in cervical ripeness, less need for caesareans and shorter labours (Decker. R, 2017). However, this method can lead to hyperstimulation of the uterus so should only be done in women with low risk pregnancies.

Anecdotally, many women try reflexology and acupuncture to help them go into labour. A Cochrane review (Smith et al., 2017) said although there is some evidence to suggest these methods may help to ripen the cervix, more conclusive studies are needed.

Patience is definitely the best path – (*ducks as several items are thrown in my direction). I have been known to send this article to clients in the past as I think it sums up that period of waiting for your baby, perfectly:

The Last Days of Pregnancy: A Place of In-Between by Jana Studelska

She’s curled up on the couch, waiting, a ball of baby and emotions. A scrambled pile of books on pregnancy, labour, baby names, breastfeeding…not one more word can be absorbed. The birth supplies are loaded in a laundry basket, ready for action. The freezer is filled with meals, the car seat installed, the camera charged. It’s time to hurry up…. and wait. Not a comfortable place to be, but wholly necessary.

The last days of pregnancy— sometimes stretching to agonizing weeks—are a distinct place, time, event, stage. It is a time of in between. Neither here nor there. Your old self and your new self, balanced on the edge of a pregnancy. One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world. Shouldn’t there be a word for this state of being, describing the time and place where mothers linger, waiting to be called forward?

Germans have a word, zwischen, which means between.
When you sense the discomfort and tension of late pregnancy remind yourself your are in “The Time of Zwischen” – Dani Diosi.  The time of in-between, where the opening begins. Giving it a name gives it dimension, an experience closer to wonder than endurance.
In Dani’s book she tells “these beautiful, round, swollen, weepy women to go with it and be okay there. Feel it, think it, don’t push it away. Write it down, sing really loudly when no one else is home, go commune with nature, or crawl into a loved ones lap so they can rub your head until you feel better. I tell their men to let go of their worry; this is an early sign of labour. I encourage them to sequester themselves if they need space, to go out if they need distraction, to enjoy the last hours of this life-as-they-now-know-it. I try to give them permission to follow the instinctual gravitational pulls that are at work within them, just as real and necessary as labour.”

The discomforts of late pregnancy are painful pelvis, squished bladder, swollen ankles, leaky nipples, weight unevenly distributed in a girth that makes scratching an itch at ankle level a feat of flexibility. “You might find yourself teary and exhausted,” says one website, “but your baby is coming soon!” Cheer up, sweetie, you’re having a baby. More messaging that what is going on is incidental and insignificant. What we don’t have is reverence or relevance—or even a working understanding of the vulnerability and openness a woman experiences at this time.
Our language and culture fails us.

A woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey.
We need time and space to prepare for that journey. And somewhere, deep inside us, at a primal level, our cells and hormones and mind and soul know this, and begin the work with or without our awareness. Zwischen is a way of offering comfort and, also, as a way of offering protection.
This is a time that should be protected as it could be used to exploit and coerce a woman down a certain pathway.  A scheduled induction is seductive, promising a sense of control. Fearful and confused family can trigger a crisis of confidence. We’re not a culture that waits for anything, nor are we believers in normal birth; waiting for a baby can feel like insanity. Giving this a name points her toward listening and developing her own intuition. That, in turn, is a powerful training ground for motherhood.