In this guide to the natural induction of labour, I will go through methods that are often recommended from innocuous suggestion of eat certain foods to more extreme methods in the form of castor oil.
Pineapple contains an enzyme called Bromelain which has been scientifically shown to have various medicinal properties, but the induction of labour is not one of them. This is simply because there aren’t a huge number of studies on the use of eating pineapple as a way of inducing labour, but many women have given anecdotal evidence of it’s efficacy. Bromelain is thought to act very much like prostaglandin in preparing the cervix for labour.
How to take it:
Only fresh Pineapple contains Bromelain, and it is found most concentrated in the stem (that hard crunchy bit in the middle). It is best to buy a whole pineapple and to cut it open and eat immediately to get the most Bromelain, as the enzymes are reduced once the fruit is cut. Canned, pre-cut or cooked pineapple will not contain the enzymes needed for induction to be successful.
One of the other downsides is that in order to get enough Bromelain for this method to work, it is estimated that one would need to eat approximately 7 pineapples.
Evening Primrose Oil (EPO)
Evening Primrose Oil is high in the omega 6 fatty acid gammalinolenic acid (GLA), which is readily converted in the body to prostaglandin E1. This is what the cervix needs in order to ripen and for labour to begin.
How to take it
EPO can be taken from 37 weeks gestation, either orally or vaginally. It is best to do so under the supervision of a homeopathic doctor, so as to ensure that you are a good candidate as they are not without risk.
If you are on medication for schizophrenia
Should be avoided by epileptics as it mayexacerbate a certain type of temporal lobe epilepsy.
Should be avoided if you have a bleeding disorder
Some studies have shown that women taking oral EPO have a higher risk of complications during labour and the need for intervention
Oral evening primrose oil: its effect on length of pregnancy and selected intrapartum outcomes in low-risk nulliparous women. – Study
Not only is this a great way to keep a couple bonded during the pregnancy, it’s a great stress reliever and certain things can actually promote labour. Orgasms in the mother help simulate the uterus to start contracting, prostaglandins are found in semen which help the cervix ripen, and nipple stimulation can also help the uterus to begin contracting.
Walking is a great way to start labour as it allows the baby’s head to stimulate the cervix in order to trigger contractions. Some people advise walking on uneven group and perhaps including going up a flight of stairs in order to help with the cervical stimulation.
Spicy food such as a hot curry is thought to help bring on contractions. Essentially how this works is that the hot curry can cause mild diarrhea that in turn can him stimulate the uterus to contract. The bowel and uterus are closely connected and the hormones that cause the bowel to move can have the same effect on the uterus.
Acupuncture / Acupressure
In order to have your labour induced by this method, it is best to see a trained professional for the best results. This is one of the only natural methods where there have also been clinical trials to show that acupuncture may stimulate the start of labour.
How it works
Acupuncture is an area of Traditional Chinese Medicine that focuses on the energy meridians of the body. By stimulation certain points in a meridian it can cause change in the flow of chi and help the body to work more effectively.
The Acupuncturist will place very thin needles into various points of the body and then stimulate them by moving the needles. The patient will then lie for some time with the needles in place. It is not usually a painful procedure but you may be aware of a “zing” sensation when the needles are inserted or moved.
Moxibustion is another method using heat from burning herbs that are held near various points on the body.
I recommend Arnold Erasmus for acupuncture treatments and he has successfully helped many clients – from turning breeches to induction of labour.