Old Wives Tales?
There are so many old wives tales about methods to induce labour naturally, and there is little concrete evidence to suggest that they work.
Here are some we have heard-
- Eating Pineapple
- Eating a Hot Curry
- Drinking Castor Oil
- Drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea
- Having Sex
- Tweaking your Nipples
Any advice concerning ingesting things such as spicy food, pineapple or castor oil is based on the idea that the gut will be stimulated which will in turn stimulate the uterus.
Raspberry Leaf Tea is thought to stimulate the uterus. Whilst it is not likely to bring on your labour, one study has shown that it can help labour to progress well once it has started.
Tweaking your nipples is thought by some to encourage the body to release Oxytocin which in turn can bring on labour.
Having sex is thought to help as semen contains the hormone Prostaglandin which will encourage labour to start. It is also believed that having an orgasm can stimulate your uterus and get labour going.
Acupuncture is thought by some to help bring on labour, but there have been very limited studies into its efficacy.
No Proper Evidence?
Due to the fact that there is so little concrete evidence supporting the efficacy of these natural induction methods, it is hard to come to a serious conclusion about them. There is no doubt that you will meet people who tell you that they had sex and went into labour 2 hours later or that they had one acupuncture session and gave birth the next day, but these people will never know if they would have gone into labour regardless of trying these things.
Most of these methods are perfectly safe for both you and the baby, so if you want to try them out then there is no harm in doing so, and you may have fun in the process.
A word of warning about a few of these methods
- Drinking Castor Oil can make you nauseous and give you diarrhoea (which you will not want to have whilst you are in labour)
- A Hot Curry might be tempting, but remember it has to come out the other end at some stage, and the reappearance of a Chicken Vindaloo during your labour may not be the best experience for either of you.
We would suggest that you keep active and try and stay relaxed. Keeping active can encourage the baby’s head to move down, whilst staying relaxed is good for oxytocin production. Make small plans to meet friends or family for each of the 10 days after your due date so you have something to look forward to and do not get too frustrated. Plans are easily cancelled if you go into labour!