Photo by Eyre June Bustamante
If you’re visiting this page, I can guess a few things about you: you’re probably 36+ weeks pregnant, feel like a massive, beached-whale, and are OVER. IT. Am I right?
I’m here to give you some ideas on how to induce labor. But before I do that, I do need to say something that you may not like. There is not a magic induction method that will work 100% of the time. So much of starting labor has to do with things you cannot control: dilation/ripening of the cervix, positioning of baby, hormones and whether you’ve had a baby before.
But, there are some things you can do to help the process along. Here are 5 research-based, proven ways to induce labor.
Sex - There are some studies that point to the prostaglandins and oxytocin released during sex can trigger labor. However, not all the studies ever done on this show the same result. Conclusion? It won’t hurt, and it could help! This isn’t a good option if you have any risk factors or if your water has already broken.
Acupuncture - There’s some evidence that points to acupuncture helping to ripen the cervix. Again, some of the evidence is mixed. However, this is an ancient practice that many swear by, and researchers say that more studies need to be done to say for sure if it helps get labor moving.
Walking - Walking can help move the baby down further toward your cervix. Also, if labor has already begun but is slow to pick up pace, walking can help increase contractions. You may try something called the Miles Circuit to help your baby move into the best position by “curb walking.”
Membrane stripping - Membrane stripping is when your provider sweeps their gloved fingers in between the thin membranes of the amniotic sac. This can be done while they are checking your cervical dilation. Studies showed a 15% increase in women going into spontaneous labor. Ask your doctor about it.
Nipple Stimulation - This may sound weird, but it does work. Stimulating nipples can release oxytocin, which is the same hormone as Pitocin. For more info on how to actually do it, check out this article. Doctors don’t recommend doing this too early or if you have any risk factors, which tells me that it can actually work if done right.
All of these will work to some degree, but like I said above, your body won’t move forward until it’s ready. And, some of these are NOT safe to do before you’re at term (at least 39 weeks). Consult your doctor before performing any of these to make sure there are no risks to you or the baby.
The best things in life are worth the wait, so if you find yourself becoming anxious or impatient to meet your baby, remember that you will not be pregnant forever. Deep, cleansing breaths, walks outside, and some self-care can really help you cope with waiting for your sweet baby to arrive. Your body knows what it’s doing, and you can trust it.
You got this, mama!