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inducing labor

Natural Induction Methods: The Evidence

Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol

Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol

Natural Induction Methods: An Unbiased Look at the Evidence


Natural methods of labor induction have been sought after for millennia by third trimester mothers for a variety of different reasons. In modern times, they're frequently a resort of mamas who might be facing a medical induction if they don't labor naturally soon.

There are myriad purported natural induction methods, but both the efficacy and safety of the methods in question are often under-studied and sometimes dubious. It's important to understand the difference between treatments that are largely safe and those that could negatively impact labor, birth, or your baby's health.

The majority of popular natural labor induction methods revolve around the consumption of plants or plant derivatives, such as castor oil and dates or pinapple, or herbal and homeopathic remedies. In the case of simple fruit consumption, there's little risk to mom beyond a stomach ache caused by an overzealous attempt. This can mislead pregnant women into thinking that all plant-based methods of attempting to naturally induce labor are safe, which is not true. In fact, some more potent plant derivatives have been shown to lead to labor complications.

The other category of natural induction methods involve forms of physical stimulus. Again, these have been attempted throughout the ages with varying degrees of success. Sexual intercourse, which is one of the most colloquially suggested methods of naturally triggering labor, has minimal risk unless a midwife or doctor has noted otherwise. Interestingly, despite its reputation, it has still been shown to be less effective at triggering labor than other forms of physical stimulus. Other stimulation methods include breast massage, acupuncture and acupressure, walking (most effective once actually in labor), uterine massage, and membrane stripping - to name just a few.

When you're attempting a natural labor induction, knowing what works and what doesn't is helpful; knowing what's healthy and what could harm your baby, however, is vital. We The Parents has compiled an infographic detailing nine of the most popular ways mothers attempt natural labor induction. For each method, the scientific evidence is examined. How much research has been done? And what do the results indicate about the efficacy and safety?

While this can help you to make an informed decision, it's also essential to get your treating physician, midwife, nurse practitioner, or other qualified health care provider’s go-ahead before trying any of these methods in order to avoid inadvertently harming yourself or your baby.

As a holistic midwife of just about 25 years, countless mamas have sought my guidance on how to bring on labor with natural modalities. I have experienced much success with a variety of methods - some not even mentioned here, but nothing has been consistent, and as with many natural remedies there is a paucity of research. As long as they are safe and sometimes effective, I will continue to recommend them, knowing that I am helping, and it is ultimately not in our control - babies prefer to come when they are ready. Many of the professional grade, top quality remedies I recommend and use often are available in my holistic online apothecary. Also, even the powerful medicinal methods have significant risks we can not take lightly, as well as benefits when there are serious complications, and do not always work either.

A common reason women want to bring on labor naturally is the concern about being ‘too late’, the postdates testing and threat of hospital induction, along with the cascade of interventions associated with it. A key factor people often do not consider is prevention. When planning a pregnancy, I encourage women to take charge of their fertility, empower themselves with knowledge about their cycles, fertile signs and know when they conceived, so the due date is more accurate than if simply based on first day of last menstrual period alone. Read more about what you can do, covered more in depth in a previous blog. Women who do not know their cycles or the date they got pregnant can also consider an early first trimester sonogram, especially if they have a history of long or irregular cycles, or of being induced previously for carrying post-term babies; but a decision to do that should be an informed one, as there are also pros and cons of ultrasound to consider.

Knowing what you should do can seem daunting. I am here to help if you need more personalized guidance. You can also read my books, to prepare yourself for a healthy, joyful and calm pregnancy and childbirth, and for healing and enhanced well-being. For further inspiration, empowerment, and optimal health in pregnancy, birthing and postpartum, please make sure to click here to take my online Love Your Birth course, so you can ROCK your journey wherever and however you plan to give birth.

I have a holistic approach to life, including healing after pregnancy and birthing. Nothing replaces abdominal toning and exercise for restoring muscle strength and tone - which I encourage for all mamas as soon as they feel up to it postpartum. Nothing replaces touch, slow deep abdominal breathing, and a 'love your postpartum body' perspective that I promote.  

But I have found many mamas simply feel comforted by this support garment, especially early postpartum and temporarily as be used without forfeiting abdominal toning and strengthening exercise, breathing well and touch. I have found Bellefit supportive garments to help like they use belly binding around the world such as in Indonesia. They do aid in early postpartum healing and provide support many mamas feel comforted by.

I deal with human beings and the reality is many postpartum mom's struggle with body image, feel frustrated that getting back to themselves takes longer than expected. Being into holistic health and healing includes being sensitive to real human struggles - the mind, body, heart and soul of each person and their unique situation. 

Having helped countless women with these issues after having a baby as a midwife, I have found many still love that binding and feel better with this support, and ability to fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes comfortably and sooner than they would if they went through a C-section or natural childbirth recovery without it - especially when they have to dress up and fit into a certain favorite outfit for a special occasion or wedding not long after having a baby. For more info on the Bellefit girdle, check out my blog about it here

Have a Great Postpartum Recovery (with a little help from Bellefit)! I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.