Two Things You Should Never Do To Induce Labor, No Matter How Desperate You Are

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When their due date nears, plenty of moms-to-be will try just about anything to get that baby out. But this doesn't mean every labor induction technique is safe and effective. Knowing the things you should never do to induce labor will save you and your baby unnecessary discomfort. To learn more, Romper reached out to childbirth educator Maryanne Higgins of Barefoot Baby's. In addition, we spoke with Dr. Britton Crigler, board certified OB-GYN, of the Cherokee Women's Health Specialists. Both shared their insight about the worst ways to induce labor.  

As far as labor induction techniques are concerned, castor oil is potentially terrible for both mom and baby. "If too much is used and you take it too often, this can cause your baby to have their first bowel movement inside before birth," says Higgins. "This can be very troublesome to the baby if swallowed." This old-timey method of inducing labor is best left in the past.

In fact, taking castor oil can result in diarrhea, dehydration, and even electrolyte imbalance, explains Crigler. None of those complications make for an easy or comfortable delivery. To give more detail, Crigler offers this example: “A pregnant patient who came in after taking castor oil was trying to make her labor go more quickly — but she actually put her baby at risk from the diarrhea and dehydration. Dehydration can result in contractions, but it won’t help start real labor. They made it through okay — but it made for a pretty messy delivery.” So while you may have heard that this liquid is a shortcut to labor, it is actually just a path to misery.

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Another thing you should never use to induce labor is black cohosh. A part of the buttercup family, black cohosh is a perennial plant sometimes used for medicinal purposes, as explained by the National Institutes of Health. Although the supplement is often used for female reproductive issues, its use as a labor inducer is not recommended. As Crigler says, taking black cohosh is associated with postpartum bleeding. Because women already deal with a certain amount of postpartum bleeding, known as lochia, following delivery, this additional blood loss may be problematic.

In addition, a study in The Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology determined taking black cohosh at any point in a pregnancy may not be advisable because the substance needs more rigorous study to determine its safety. Although it may have beneficial medicinal properties, black cohosh should be approached with caution by pregnant women.

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Other supposed labor induction techniques aren't necessarily dangerous, but they might be ineffective. As Crigler explains, watching scary movies, eating spicy eggplant, or getting acupressure won't necessarily induce labor, but these activities won't hurt, either. Scary movies may provide a welcome distraction, and acupressure may help you relax, which is always a great thing at the end of pregnancy.  

That said, there are are a few techniques that could help induce labor if your body's close. “The last few weeks of pregnancy can be very uncomfortable! There’s no good way to get around the waiting," says Crigler. "But I let my patients know a few tricks which can sometimes help — that includes sex and dancing!” Actually, both experts recommended sex. "In sperm there is a natural prostaglandin that can cause the cervix to soften, letting the effacement process to start," says Higgins. In addition, dancing with hip rotations can help the baby engage the pelvis, putting pressure on the cervix to dilate, as Crigler further explains.

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If you're up to it, either of these activities are safe, and way more pleasant than taking a shot of castor oil. Whatever technique you choose, hopefully your baby will be in your arms soon.

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