Inducing Yourself Non-Medically (& should you do it?)

*Disclaimer: As a doula I am a non-medical support person and cannot give medical advice. Even though these methods of induction are non-medical, it is best to speak to your healthcare provider before attempting any of them*

There are ways of starting labour at home without the use of medical interventions?! This might sound very tempting to some women.
You're nearing the end of your pregnancy and you. are. tired. You're heavy, you're hot, you have to pee constantly, the list goes on. Of course it sounds quite intriguing to just say 'let's get this baby out already!', but there is a good reason he hasn't come out yet. He's not done cooking. 

When we try to make our bodies go into labour when they're not ready to, it can lead to some very unfavourable consequences. Your body, and your baby, know when it's time. In fact, there is a substance that babies lungs produce when they are done developing called surfactant, and this is what causes labour to begin. That's why a lot of premature babies have respiratory problems. 

So if your reason for wanting to induce yourself is because you're done with being pregnant, holding on just a little while longer is probably best.

However, your healthcare provider may mention induction to you for a number of reasons. If you're past your estimated due date (which isn't always a big deal;it's just an estimation after all), or if you're of advanced maternal age, like my current client.

My client's due date is in 10 days, but because she is a bit older her OBGYN wants to induce her 6 days from now. How most healthcare providers do this is by using a prostaglandin gel to ripen the cervix and get things going. There are some things you can do before this though to help your cervix ripen on it's own and hopefully have a smoother, speedier induction and labour.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

You have most likely heard of this one if you've read any pregnancy thing. Starting to drink the tea while pregnant helps to tone and strengthen the uterus. A lot of women swear by it and say that if they drink a couple cups a day before their due date it gets contractions going and can even make your water break. There are others though who are not believers in this tonic. It's best to listen to your body, as the tea can cause nausea in some women. Only drink it if it feels right, but there aren't any contraindications for it. 

Sex

That's right! Basically a win-win situation. Sex is great for a few reasons, obviously. But late in pregnancy especially. Semen contains prostaglandins; that hormone that ripens your cervix! Not only that, but female orgasm releases oxytocin in your body (nipple stimulation does this too)! That's the love & bonding hormone that helps you in labour. That is something that definitely could not hurt to try. Unless your water is broken already, then it's a no-go. Don't want to risk infection. 

Acupuncture/Acupressure

There are some acupuncturists specializing in in pregnancy/labour acupuncture. If you don't like needles (though they are painless) you may want to opt out of this one. It is said to have many benefits in not only relaxing you but getting labour going. There are certain spots on your body that stimulate the process and even doing acupressure to yourself on these parts could be beneficial. Do not try unless you are at your due date though. 

Walking

Really any form of exercise helps, but walking especially, guides the baby into the best position in your pelvis for birth. It also helps open up your pelvis (as do squats!). Just be sure that you don't overdo anything as you want all of your energy for active labour. 

Pineapple/Dates/Spicy Food

These foods are all said to help in inducing labour. It could be the placebo effect. Or it could be that the magic properties in these delicious foods actually do help, but trying can't hurt.
What I do NOT recommend is castor oil. You may have heard that it can help with inducing, but that is only if your cervix is already super ripe and you are ready for labour. In that case I would wait it out or try any other option listed here. Castor oil moves your intestines causing horrible diarrhea, and in turn causes uterine contractions. This will dehydrate you and zap your energy. It could also make the baby pass meconium (first poop) which can be very dangerous. Best to steer clear of it. 

Sweeping the Membranes

Though this one still isn't actually a medical method, you still need a care provider to do it for you. It could be worth mentioning if you're nearing the end of your pregnancy. What they do is use their finger to separate the amniotic sac from the uterus releasing, you guessed it, prostaglandins to ripen your cervix. Some doctors will start doing this anyway. Yu totally have a say in whether you want ti done or not though. This is one of the stronger, more efficient methods of inducing labour. 

What it all comes down to is basically that you should wait as long as you can before trying induction. Because your baby knows when to be born. You just have to be patient. These methods are great and you can do some of them anyways just to help your body prepare for labour, like walking. Others will be best to wait a while. Just be sure that you run anything you do past your health care provider. 

Red raspberry leaf tea doesn't ACTUALLY taste like raspberries. Who knew?

Red raspberry leaf tea doesn't ACTUALLY taste like raspberries. Who knew?

-Lila