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No two women feel the same during pregnancy, but a large percentage will start to feel ‘fed up’ towards the end of their third trimester.
As birth approaches, excited anticipation coupled with unpleasant side effects presented by pregnancy make it a tense and frustrating time.
While a full term pregnancy comes at 40 weeks, it is considered perfectly safe for a baby to be born as early as 37 weeks.
Therefore, women who are particularly uncomfortable (perhaps due to backache, a lack of sleep, resurgent morning sickness, frequent urination, or shortness of breath) may wish to bring on labor using any natural means possible.
Most of us have heard that eating a hot curry or having intercourse will bring on labor. In reality, these aren’t guaranteed methods. In fact, none are — apart from induction via hormones provided through an intravenous drip. This is known as a ‘labor induction’ performed under professional medical supervision.
For women who have reached their 40th week of pregnancy and are feeling anxious to go into labor, a membrane sweep is sometimes offered. This involves stimulating the membranes of the cervix, and possibly breaking them free from around the baby which in turn stimulates the production of prostaglandins. These are substances similar to hormones and are found most abundantly in male semen.
Old Wives Tales
This helps to explain why intercourse is often recommended. Uptake into the bloodstream is faster through the stomach lining, and therefore oral stimulation can be beneficial. If there is no rush, however, then ending in male climax will work just as well. Female climax may also stimulate uterine contractions.
Eating curry when you’re pregnant serves only to give you stomach cramps. The contractions in your bowel cause the uterus to contract, which can bring on labor. Therefore, the curry has to be considerably spicy.
There is a certain degree of mystery surrounding castor oil, with many women being advised against it but not knowing quite why that is. Castor oil works to induce labor in the same way as a hot curry does. But rather than causing simple curry-induced diarrhea, it is also oily and messy. If you (like many women) do have a bowel movement as you deliver you baby, then you will want this to be normal and easy for a nurse or midwife to clean away. Not only that, but you cannot tell how your body will react to such cramp-inducing substances, and it’s fairly certain that no expectant mother wants to deal with diarrhea pains at the same time as intense contractions. With that said, ordering takeout could be just the ticket if your feet are swollen and your back is in no condition for cooking.
One natural method for inducing labor is to eat pineapple. Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme which softens the cervix and encourages the uterus to contract. (You may have used pineapple juice to tenderize meat in the past.) The main problem with eating pineapple is that it contains very low levels as bromelain, so you would need to eat up to 7 whole pineapples in order to benefit! Perhaps it’s because such large quantities of one fruit can cause diarrhea that many people think it’s so effective.
Natural Methods That Work
Hopefully you’re not too disheartened at this point.
You should really try to concentrate on positions, exercises, and hormones in order to encourage labor — rather than consuming substances that will give you cramps.
One such effective method is nipple stimulation. When a baby suckles at the breast, oxytocin is released (a hormone which induces contractions). Gently rubbing the nipple gives the same messages to the brain. Your aim should be to imitate the suckling of a baby, so don’t just pinch or touch the nipple, but stimulate the areola with the palm of your hand. (Bonus: Having your baby breastfeed as soon as possible after birth may also help to deliver the placenta quickly and safely.)
Finally, keeping active — without overdoing it — is a very good way to induce labor naturally. This doesn’t mean exercise as such, but simply staying upright and doing a little walking around. As your baby’s head will have descended well into the bottom of the pelvis during the latter stage of pregnancy, the motion of walking will cause your baby’s head to stimulate oxytocin production. It also allows gravity to do some of the work, helping you to proceed quicker through the latent stages of labor.
Some women swear by bouncing on a birthing ball as a similar method to walking, which may be more comfortable for you.
Make The Most Of Your Final Days Of Pregnancy
Do bear in mind that you will need a lot of energy for delivering your baby. So if you didn’t sleep well the night before then you should try to catch up on sleep before actively trying to induce labor.
By the time you’ve tried the majority of the methods listed above, you’re quite likely to have gone into labor already.
Try to remember that these are the last few days before your lovely (but very demanding) baby arrives. So use this time to enjoy some quiet time, your partner, and your other children if you have any.
Other Ways To Induce Labor
- Natural Ways To Induce Labor At Home
- 5 Ways Doctors Can Induce Labor
- How Labor Is Induced In The Hospital
- 40 Natural Ways To Induce Labor On Your Own
- Medical Reasons For Inducing Labor
I specialize in health issues including ante, peri and post natal periods, infancy and childhood, physiology, mental health, alternative health — as well as psychology, childcare, nursing and midwifery.