Being pregnant for 40 weeks can feel like a really long time, especially towards the end when you may be physically uncomfortable, having difficulty sleeping, etc. You may become excited and impatient to deliver the baby and get to the important task of taking care and loving this new person in your life. Sometimes you may pass week 40 of your pregnancy with no signs that the baby is ready to enter the world. Speeding the process along at home could be an option.
How to Induce Labor at Home
Before you turn to medical intervention and the drugs that go along with that, there are some natural methods you can attempt at home to initiate labor. Some are old wives’ tales whilst others have been proven to work. When you’ve passed week 40, you'll be desperate to try anything! Here are some tips for inducing labor at home:
1. Eating Some Types of Foods
- Consuming pineapple as pieces of fruit, in smoothies or juice may initiate labor. Pineapple contains a compound called bromelain which readies the cervix for labor.
- Spicy foods are believed to hasten labor, but beware of getting heartburn.
- Liquorice is available in a pill or a natural form with less sugar. It stimulates intestinal cramps which may induce cramping in the uterus.
- Garlic can act as a laxative which may trigger labor.
- Fiber is important throughout your pregnancy to prevent constipation.
- Regular evacuation of the bowels, especially towards the end of your pregnancy, may help the baby into the position that is ready for labor.
- Sipping on special tea like cumin tea or red raspberry tea is a convenient way of inducing labor at home.
2. Various Body Positions
Resting on your hands and knees helps the baby move into the correct position for birth, which is baby’s head down pushing onto the cervix. The pressure on the cervix stimulates labor. Avoid lying on your back as this pushes the baby away from the best position. Use an exercise ball to bounce gently while sitting on it. This also improves the positioning of the baby.
3. Physical Activity
Regular walking will cause the baby’s head to engage into the cervix and bring on the labor. Gently galloping can also move the baby into position. Be careful while trying this, you don’t want to trip over your own feet! Climbing stairs will change your body’s angle and allow the baby to move lower in your womb. Hold onto the handrail to ascend the stairs safely. Do some household chores like cleaning and vacuuming. Some women claim to experience this "nesting" feeling where they start cleaning the house in preparation for the new baby. This is a great way for inducing labor at home-you will have a clean house when you return home with the new baby!
Experiencing an orgasm releases oxytocin and a group of compounds called prostaglandins. These stimulate labor. Semen inside the vagina will also trigger the response. If your water has broken, avoid sex because this can introduce infection into your uterus.
5. Nipple Stimulation
Nipple stimulation with your fingers releases the hormone oxytocin which will induce contractions in your womb. The skin of your nipples and areola are very sensitive so use a safe lubricant like olive oil or nipple ointment.
Acupressure is a Chinese technique. It is believed that pressing certain areas of your body will bring on labor. Two acupuncture points on the body for initiating labor are the webbing between your thumb and index finger and on the inside of your leg about 3 inches above the ankle bone. Consult a qualified therapist.
Reflexology uses the pressure points on the feet. Different areas of your foot are believed to correspond with various organs in the body. Applying pressure to those points will kick off labor. Consult a qualified reflexologist.
8. Castor Oil
Drinking castor oil brings on abdominal cramping and diarrhea. These contractions will trigger uterine contractions, too. It has also been used an as enema to clear out your bowels. Use castor oil with extreme caution as it can cause dehydration.
9. Herbal Treatments
Supplements of evening primrose oil can prepare the cervix and bring on labor. It contains prostaglandins which induces contractions. These supplements can be taken orally or inserted as a pessary into the vagina at night-time. Consult your medical practitioner if you consider this option. Homeopathic remedies like pulsatilla and caulophyllum can help inducing labor at home as well. Follow the instructions carefully on the package to ensure you’re dosing it correctly.
10. Body Relaxation
- Immerse your body into a comfortably warm bath with a few drops of lavender oil to calm and relax you. This will release all the tension in your body and prepare your body for labor. Remember a very hot bath may distress the baby.
- Meditation and visualization techniques can be used to stimulate your body into labor. This technique will also relax your body in preparation of labor.
- Release your tension by crying. This stage of your pregnancy can be very stressful and all you may need is to release all your stress and negative emotions.
- Massage is another method to relax your body and mind. This prenatal massage should be practiced by a licensed practitioner to ensure that the baby is not harmed in any way.