8 things that could induce labour
Feeling you need to help labour get underway? Try these...
20 per cent of babies go past their due date.
If yours is one, can you give nature a helping hand and induce labour? We separate the truth from the old wives’ tales.
1. Hot, spicy food
The theory is that the spiciness of a curry or chilli will stimulate your stomach and bowel muscles, especially if you aren’t used to hot food. That could have a knock-on effect on the muscles of the uterus to start contracting.
Accuracy rating: 5. Whoa, indigestion alert! And have you ever heard of anyone it’s worked for? No, we haven’t, either.
2. Nipple stimulation
Massaging your nipples, especially the areola (the area around the nipple) can trick your body into thinking you’re breastfeeding, causing your uterus to begin contracting. Try it for five minutes then take a break for 15.
Accuracy rating: 9. Research has proved it can work, and some midwives do advise trying it if you’re over 40 weeks.
The idea is that having an orgasm can trigger your brain to release oxytocin, the hormone that starts and regulates contractions. Semen contains prostaglandins, which may encourage the cervix to soften and dilate.
Accuracy rating: 8. Is sex even physically possible at this point? Fun to find out, though.
Being upright and moving gently, with your pelvis rocking gently is thought to encourage your baby’s head to engage and start things moving. Ditto cleaning the floor on all fours.
Accuracy rating: 7. It might work, but midwives don’t advise it because you don’t want to start your labour exhausted from walking. Being on all fours can help the baby to get into a good position in the pelvis, but it won’t bring on labour.
Tropical fruit, especially pineapple, contains an enzyme called bromelain which is supposed to work like a prostaglandin to soften the cervix and get it ready for labour. Only fresh, not tinned, though – and most of the bromelain is in the tough, central stem.
Accuracy rating: 5. Technically it could work, but you’d have to eat a lot of pineapple. And what about the indigestion?
The ancient Eastern art of using needles in one part of the body to stimulate another part has been found in some research to successfully induce labour in two thirds of cases. However, other studies have found zero effect.
Accuracy rating: 7. It might not work, but it won’t harm you as long as the acupuncturist is properly qualified.
7. A bumpy car journey
There’s no evidence for this, but many women swear that driving along an uneven or rough road has brought on their labour. The explanation is the same for walking: the weight of the baby’s head against a moving pelvis can get things moving.
Accuracy rating: 7. Just make sure you’re not the one driving when the contractions start.
8. A green salad
A US restaurant makes a fortune from its Romaine lettuce, watercress, blue cheese and walnut salad that hundreds of women claim has brought on their labour. The key is the basil balsamic dressing, apparently.
Accuracy rating: 3. But at least there’s nothing to lose from eating a healthy salad.
Things not to try:
Raspberry leaf tea: Thought to stimulate the womb, but shouldn’t be used to bring on labour.
Drinking castor oil: Traditionally used to induce labour, but it’s a fearsome laxative. Need we say more?
Homeopathy: There’s no evidence it works.
Black/blue cohosh: This herbal remedy is too strong to use in pregnancy and could be dangerous.