There comes a point in every pregnancy when, no matter how much you liked being pregnant, you suddenly cannot possibly handle being pregnant for one more second of your life. This point is usually heralded by such developments as no longer being able to see your toes, or fit behind the steering wheel, or find a comfortable sleeping position. Assuming your baby is developmentally ready, you'll probably start looking for ways to trick your body into thinking your due date is now. So what are some unconventional ways to induce labor that don't involve actual medical intervention?
If you're actually past your due date or showing signs of preeclampsia or other complications, your doctor might induce labor using pitocin. But that's a different story. These are the methods you turn to when you're not in any kind of physical danger, but you're just so done trying to function with a bowling ball sitting on your bladder at all times. From natural remedies that women have relied on since the days before pitocin even existed to a certain kind of food that countless moms swear by, there's no absolute guarantee that any of these tips and tricks will work... but, then again, there's no guarantee that a lot of the stuff they'll do at the hospital will work, either, so anything is worth a shot! Just make sure you clear anything with your OB/GYN first to make sure your baby is ready.
This one is an easy enough method to try, whether you use your hands (or your partner's hands) or even a breast pump... but is it effective? Possibly: A Cochrane Database review on nipple stimulation and labor found that 60 percent of women went into labor within 72 hours of stimulation; in addition, women who received nipple stimulation also had reduced rates of postpartum hemorrhage.
"We know it works," Suzy Myers, C.P.M., a certified professional midwife, told Fit Pregnancy. "But you have to be very careful that you are not overstimulating the uterus and making the contractions too strong or too close together. you also have to make sure the baby is tolerating it well by having your health care provider monitor his or her heartbeat."
One of the more gag-inducing things you'll ever try, one study found that drinking castor oil increases the odds of going into labor within the following 24 hours, according to The Bump. The old-fashioned remedy aggravates the GI tract, which can cause uterine contractions. But, proceed with caution:
“Drinking mineral oil or castor oil can cause stronger contractions than you’d have normally, and with each contraction, blood flow to the uterus slows down a bit so the baby doesn’t get as much oxygen,” Elizabeth Langen, M.D., told The Bump. “If your contractions are too strong or too close together, the baby can lose oxygen, which can be dangerous.”
There's also the "aggravated GI tract" thing to deal with, so be sure to talk to your doc before trying this out.
If the castor oil thing seems too rough, try adding extra jalapeños to your burrito or ordering some takeout vindaloo. Eating spicy foods could have similar results, Certified Nurse Midwife Elizabeth Hill-Karbowski, Ph.D., told Fit Pregnancy, without the potentially dangerous complications.
Everybody from your OB to the lady behind you in line at the grocery store has probably suggested sex as a way of bringing on labor, but there's actually not a ton of evidence to back up this claim. Still, it's entirely plausible. As Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University’s School of Medicine, told Redbook, ejaculate contains prostaglandin (a fatty acid used to induce labor medically).
"Seminal fluid is rich in that, and ejaculate with prostaglandin may hit your cervix," she explained. This advice should not be followed, she added, for women with ruptured membranes.
As with sex, even though exercise is one of the first things people (even your doctor) will tell you to do if you're impatient to deliver, there's not a lot of proof it really works. That said, lots of moms swear that a day of increased physical activity got their labors going, which is no doubt why even obstetricians often recommend it. (I'm positive that an hours-long walk around the city is what brought on labor with my first baby.) And it makes sense, if you think about it.
"There is some thought that upright exercise, such as brisk walking or jogging, may encourage descent of the baby due to the effects of gravity," Lynn Simpson, M.D., told SELF.
Plus, exercise is good for you anyway.