Natural ways bring on labour

Have you reached your due date and still no baby?

Are you frantically Googling or asking friends what they did to bring on labour?

Well join the club.

And still nothing!

So I thought I’d post the options I’ve been recommended, with the outcome for me.

Dates
I was told that eating 6 dates a day from week 36 is thought to help labour to start spontaneously closer to you due date, and to help with a shorter labour.

Verdict: I am now 1 day overdue, which I know is optimistic as it’s my first, but even so, eating dates each morning so far has simply been a little sweet treat that has kept me ‘regular’.

Raspberry leaf tea
You hear mixed advice on this one. My midwife recommended raspberry leaf tea as a means to helping to tone the muscles of your uterus, helping it to work better during labour.

Verdict: The idea of this one is not to speed up your labour, but to help it to progress at a nice, steady pace, and can also help the pelvic floor muscles to help turn the baby to assist with delivery.

Pineapple
Lots of people tell you to eat pineapples or drink the juice of them to bring on labour. Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, thought to help to soften the cervix and bring on labour.

Verdict: I have been eating pineapples on a regular basis – keeping one chopped up in the fridge so that I have it readily prepared – and really all that has happened is that I have snacked on something refreshing instead of reaching for the biscuit tin. It’s also helped with the issue of constipation but I’ve also found myself craving sharp citrus fruits more. I’ve since found out that the level of bromelain is pretty small in each pineapple so you need to eat a heck of a lot to have the desired effect.

Walking
I’ve been an advocate of staying active throughout pregnancy so this is a no-brainer for me. Walking is recommended as being upright encourages your baby to move down onto your cervix with the baby’s head putting pressure onto it to release of oxytocin, which helps to trigger and regulate your contractions.

Verdict: I have been walking everywhere and apart from keeping me fit, sane and getting fresh air, it’s not made much difference to bringing on labour. 

Sex
Probably the last thing on your mind, sex is thought to trigger labour through a) having an orgasm to stimulate the uterus into action, b) releasing that all important oxytocin hormone, and c) releasing semen to help soften the cervix and to relax tissues.

Verdict: This one is easier said than done with a watermelon-sized tummy, achey back, hips and pelvis, and the fatigue that goes along with late pregnancy. Again, it did nothing to bring on the labour, and I am sure was a myth invented by men, but at least it’s an affectionate way to spend you last few child-free nights together.

Nipple stimulation
Stimulating your nipples is thought to help to trick your body into thinking your baby is suckling to release oxytocin and start contractions.

Verdict: I haven’t tried this purely because it is time consuming – recommended 1 hour, three times a day!  Nipple stimulation is also thought to only work if you’ve had a straightforward pregnancy and your baby is ready to be born, so think about whether you want to invest the time and effort into a less than guaranteed theory!

Curry and spicy food
Spicy food is often suggested to help bring on labour as it is thought to stimulate your stomach and therefore your uterus to start contractions.

Verdict: I have been adding chillies to most of our meals for weeks now and so far, no movement. Tonight I am going to brave a hot curry though, so will update this later!

Housework or DIY
Getting on all fours and staying in an upright standing or kneeling position is thought to help the baby to become engaged in the right position.  This is only recommended if you feel well, and obviously it is safe to do so – don’t start climbing up ladders or balancing on cupboards!

Verdict: I painted a wall yesterday, and apart from getting covered in splashes and causing my hips to ache, all I did was keep myself busy for a few hours and my landing looks nicer! I also now have very clean floors, but still no contractions.

Clary sage
Clary sage is a popular aromatherapy oil to start labour, but can cause very strong contractions and fetal distress so is not recommended before your due date and always with caution.

Verdict: I have been cautious of aromatherapy throughout my pregnancy. I had a facial at about 28 weeks and some of the smells actually made me feel sick, although once over that was a relaxing experience. I have not used clary sage yet and will be consulting my midwife later today to find out if this is a good idea. Watch this space…

So what’s left?
Accupuncture, massage and reflexology are thought to be good complementary therapies to help bring on labour, so I’ll be looking into these if nothing else seems to be working!

Hurry up baby!

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