There are times when doctors have concerns about the mom’s health toward the end of the pregnancy. Sometimes, women simply get tired of waiting for long to meet their baby. So, they might want to speed up the process by safely inducing labour. A 2022 study published in the US National Library of Medicine showed that walking for half an hour three times a week at 4 km per hour starting from week 38 of pregnancy can help to induce labour. We tell you the natural ways to induce labour.
To meet their baby, women generally have to wait for 40 weeks provided there are no complications in pregnancy, says Dr Meshva Patel, Fertility and IVF Specialist, Aveya IVF and Fertility Center, Delhi. But some babies take their own time to come out of the womb.
The normal delivery of a baby is affected by three main factors:
• Power (uterine contractions)
• Passage (female pelvis)
• Passenger (fetus)
If there’s anything wrong with these three factors in terms of inadequate or insufficient uterine contractions, narrow or deformed pelvis, large baby or abnormal position of the baby, then it will take longer than usual for delivery. In such cases, women might have to go for caesarean section or instrumental delivery (forceps and vacuum).
Natural ways to induce labour
You can also induce labour naturally if your little one takes time to enter this world. Here’s what to do:
1. Nipple stimulation
This involves gently massaging or rolling the nipples, which can release oxytocin, a hormone that can trigger uterine contractions. It is important to do this carefully to avoid overstimulation, which can lead to overly strong contractions, warns the expert.
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2. Perineal massage
Massaging the area between the vagina and anus (the perineum) can help to soften and stretch the tissues. This can potentially reduce the risk of tearing during childbirth and stimulate blood flow to the area, promoting labour.
Staying active during pregnancy through activities like walking or prenatal yoga can help to keep you in good shape for labour. Exercise can also encourage the baby to move into a better position for birth, which may naturally induce labour.
Sex can promote labour because it may help to ripen the cervix and release prostaglandins, which are hormones that can stimulate contractions. Also, the physical movements during sex can encourage the baby to descend into the birth canal, Dr Patel tells Health Shots. However, scientific evidence in this regard is insufficient.
Acupuncture has been practiced for long within Traditional Chinese medicine, involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body, and so it may stimulate the release of oxytocin and encourage labour.
Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but involves applying pressure to specific points on the body with fingers or hands. It can help to relax the body, reduce stress and potentially stimulate labour when applied correctly.
7. Herbal remedies
Some herbal remedies, such as dates, castor oil, raspberry leaf tea, primrose oil, pineapple and papaya, are believed to have properties to induce uterine contractions and making the mouth of uterus ready to open.
There is also membrane stripping, also known as a membrane sweep, to induce member. It is a medical procedure where a medical expert uses their finger to separate the amniotic sac from the cervix slightly, explains Dr Patel. This can release prostaglandins and sometimes lead to contractions.
Induction of labour is safe, but keep you doctor in loop to avoid any complications.