As the due date approaches, many pregnant mamas eagerly await the arrival of their little ones. While childbirth is a natural process, some mamas may feel impatient or uncomfortable during the final weeks of pregnancy. By forty weeks, your body may be stretched to its limits, and you will be ready to start the process. If you're looking for natural ways to encourage labor, this is for you. We'll explore ten natural tricks that may help stimulate the onset of labor while keeping in mind that every pregnancy is unique, and it's essential to consult with your healthcare provider before trying any of these methods.
Methods to naturally induce labour
- Stay Active and Exercise: Engaging in light exercises such as walking or prenatal yoga can help stimulate contractions. These activities encourage your baby to descend into the birth canal and put gentle pressure on the cervix, potentially aiding in the initiation of labour. However, avoid overexertion or strenuous exercises that could be unsafe during pregnancy. If you need some sportswear suitable for pregnancy, take a look at our range of activewear. We have leggings made for pregnant bellies, and our sports bras are nursing-friendly.
- Acupuncture and Acupressure: Acupuncture and acupressure have been used for centuries to promote labor induction. By targeting specific points on the body, these techniques can help stimulate contractions and initiate the labor process. It's crucial to consult a certified acupuncturist or acupressure practitioner specializing in prenatal care.
- Nipple Stimulation: Gentle nipple stimulation causes the release of oxytocin, a hormone responsible for triggering contractions. You can manually massage your nipples, use a breast pump for a few minutes at a time or even spark up the romance between you and your partner and ask him to help. However, just be careful not to go overboard with stimulation, as too much can cause excessive contractions or discomfort.
- Evening Primrose Oil: Evening primrose oil is a natural supplement rich in prostaglandins and can be taken orally or applied topically near the cervix. Prostaglandins help soften and ripen the cervix, making it more favorable for labor. Before using evening primrose oil, it's worth consulting your midwife to determine the appropriate dosage and method.
- Spicy Foods: Although the connection between spicy foods and labor induction is anecdotal, some mamas swear by it. Spicy foods can stimulate the digestive system and potentially irritate the uterus, leading to contractions. However, if you have a sensitive stomach or gastrointestinal issues, it's best to approach this method with caution.
- Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation plays a vital role in promoting labor. Engaging in calming activities like deep breathing, meditation, or prenatal massages can help reduce stress and tension. When you're relaxed, your body is more likely to release oxytocin, which, as we know, can trigger contractions and kickstart the labor process.
- Raspberry Leaf Tea: Drinking raspberry leaf tea during the final weeks of pregnancy is believed to have several benefits, including toning the uterus and potentially facilitating labor. While research on its effectiveness is limited, many mamas find it helpful. We love the Mamabody Raspberry Leaf Tea. As always, consult your midwife before incorporating any herbal tea into your routine.
- Spinning Babies Techniques: Spinning Babies is an approach that focuses on optimal fetal positioning to encourage a smoother labor. Techniques such as forward-leaning inversions, pelvic tilts, breaststroke swimming, and other gentle exercises can help your baby find an optimal position for birth. Your midwife will be able to advise of different techniques that are right for you.
- Warm Baths: Taking warm baths can help relax your body and potentially promote labor. The warmth can soothe tense muscles, relieve discomfort, and enhance relaxation. Ensure the water temperature is safe and comfortable, and don't stay in the bath for an extended period to avoid overheating.
- Sex: Engaging in sexual intimacy with your partner can help stimulate labor. Now, we know the thought of sex when you are heavily pregnant may not be the most inviting thought, however, semen does contain prostaglandins, and sexual activity can trigger the release of oxytocin. Additionally, orgasmic contractions can have a positive impact on initiating labor.
- Stretch and Sweep - a procedure used to start a natural labour. Sometimes called sweeping or stripping the membranes, it is offered to women who are close to or past their due date. Your midwife or healthcare provider can perform this procedure.
It's essential to remember that natural methods for inducing labor may not work for everyone, and each pregnancy is unique. If you're considering trying any of these tricks, consult with your healthcare provider or midwife first to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your specific situation. The signs of labor can vary from person to person, but here are some common signs that indicate you may be entering labor:
Signs you are in labor
- Contractions are the most significant sign of labor. They typically start as mild cramps or discomfort in the lower abdomen and gradually become stronger, longer, and more frequent.
- A "bloody show" refers to the discharge of a small amount of blood-tinged mucus from the vagina. A bloody show occurs because the cervix starts to soften and thin (efface) and widen (dilate) in preparation for labor.
- Waters breaking is when the amniotic sac surrounding the baby ruptures, causing fluid from the vagina. It is essential to remember every pregnancy is different, and it may not be a gush of fluid like in the movies. If you suspect your water has broken, it's essential to notify your healthcare provider.
- Some women experience persistent lower back pain or cramping that differs from regular contractions.
- The urge to go to the toilet. This is caused by your baby's head pressing on your bowel.
- Pressure in the pelvis: As the baby descends into the birth canal, you may feel pressure in your pelvis.
- Diarrhea or loose stools: Hormonal changes and the body's natural preparation for labor can lead to loose stools or diarrhea in some women.
- Nesting instinct: Some women experience a burst of energy and an intense desire to clean, organize, or prepare for the baby's arrival shortly before going into labor, often called the "nesting instinct."
It's important to keep in mind that these signs are general and not everyone experiences them in the same way or in the same order. Remember to be patient, as your baby will arrive when they are ready. Meanwhile, focus on taking care of yourself, staying relaxed, and enjoying the final moments of your pregnancy journey.
When to head to the hospital during labor
During early labor, you may feel mild, irregular contractions. It's helpful during this stage to stay home where you're comfortable. Now is also a good time to have your support person double-check that your hospital bag is ready. Check out our Ultimate Hospital Bag Article for tips on what to pack.
When contractions become regular, painful, lasting one minute each and occurring at least every five minutes for more, it's time to head to the hospital. This is the transition from early to active labor. During early and active labor, staying in contact with your healthcare provider is important.