The first two things I must preface before writing this article are these. One, no amount of induction will work, not even Pitocin, if your body and baby are not ready to be induced. This commonly occurs when someone is induced and gets a cesarean section for "failure to progress." If your body and baby are not ready for birth, none of the ideas mentioned in this article or the options available at your birth center or hospital will successfully bring your birthing time. Two, talking with your care provider before attempting any form of labor induction, even the stuff at home, is crucial. Certain bodies, risk factors, and medical conditions make even the simplest at-home suggestions unsafe. Talking with your care provider first is the best way to ensure that anything you attempt will be safe for yourself and your baby(s). With all that said, here are some at-home induction techniques that sometimes work!
We always say, what put the baby in you, gets the baby out of you, and it is not a lie! Orgasms are a great way to tone the uterus and release Oxytocin, one of the main hormones that encourage labor. Not only this, but if you are with a male partner, their sperm contains Prostaglandins, a hormone that can jumpstart labor. Having sex in your final days and weeks of pregnancy is fun and safe, and you might just do something to bring your baby here. Once your waters have broken, nothing must go into the vagina to avoid infections. Orgasms are still within reach, but fingers, penis, dildos, etc. should not be a part of that experience.
Pumping, nipple twiddling, and nursing are all great ways to provide the amount of nipple stimulation needed to induce someone into labor. As with sex, nipple stimulation produces Oxytocin which stimulates the uterus to contract. Many birthing parents have felt these contractions immediately postpartum while nursing their little one(s), and the same thing is applied to induction measures. So a little nipple stimulation can go a long way.
You heard me right, dates! Some people call the super sweet and sticky fruit "natures candy." It is scientifically proven to help ripen and dilate the cervix. A study stated that ingesting at least six dates a day is the number of dates needed to help with these labor preparations.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
This tea is known to soften the cervix, help labor progress steadily, and strengthen the uterus muscles by boosting the blood flow to the uterus. It is often recommended to start drinking a cup of this tea a day at thirty-two weeks and then increase gradually to three cups a day as you get closer to your due date.
Whether it is acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, or massage, bodywork can play an impactful role in not only prepping your body for childbirth but making the last days and weeks of pregnancy more comfortable and, in some cases, kickstarting labor.
Although not commonly a DIY thing that can be done, getting one's membranes stripped can kickstart things into labor. The stripping of membranes is done while getting an internal exam. Next, the care provider will stretch the cervix and then do a sweep separating the membranes from the wall of the uterus. Stretch and sweeps can release Prostaglandin, helping labor begin, but we often see that it commonly takes at least two to three of these to get things going.
I include this as an option, although it is not one that commonly does the trick with induction. In some circumstances exercising can upset the uterus enough that labor begins. In any case, exercise can also feel good at the end of pregnancy. Walking is a great way to encourage good positioning for your baby. The warning I give with exercise is that it can cause exhaustion before labor begins. This should not be done to chase labor, and I would go as far as recommending a nap after your workout if you think there is any chance that it will lead to birth.
Although I understand that the end of pregnancy can be rough, trust me, I home-induced two of my three babies. There are benefits to waiting for labor to start on its own. The longer the infant can stay in the womb, the more time they have to build muscle and bulk up in fat. As a result, they have a reduced risk for low blood sugars, infection, and jaundice, breathing can improve, nursing is commonly easier, and their brains have more time for development. You know your body and baby best, and trusting that if induction feels right to you, it probably is right and is a great way to go about it. It is also important to remember that in most cases, none of these at-home techniques will work unless your body and baby are ready. If giving some nudges will improve your mental health, go for it and trust that your body or baby will let you know if the timing is not right.