There is something to be said for being patient. Your baby will come when he's ready. But if an induction date is looming, you may feel like giving him a gentle nudge.
Alternative methods of bringing on labourSome mums feel that the following techniques have worked for them:
Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into specific points of your body. This is thought to stimulate the energy within your body to act on a specific organ function or system (Smith et al 2004).
Find out more about how acupuncture may bring on labour.
Curry is often suggested as a means to bring on labour. Eating spicy food may stimulate your tummy, and therefore prompt your womb (uterus) into action (Prodigy 2008).
Find out more about how curry may bring on labour.
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which is thought to help soften your cervix and bring on labour. Eating large amounts will probably stimulate your tummy, which could also help to get things going (Tiran 2009).
Find out more about how pineapple may bring on labour.
Nipple stimulation is when you gently rub or roll your nipples to encourage the start of contractions. The idea is to mimic the suckling of your baby. This releases oxytocin, a hormone that causes contractions to start (Kavanagh et al 2005).
Find out more about how nipple stimulation may bring on labour.
Having sex can be tricky when you have a big bump. But it could trigger the release of oxytocin, a hormone that causes contractions. Having an orgasm could also stimulate your womb to get labour going (Tan et al 2006, Schaffir 2006).
Find out more about how sex may bring on labour, or see whether it worked for other women in our friendly community discussion.
The pressure of your baby's head pressing down on your cervix from the inside could stimulate the release of oxytocin, a hormone that causes contractions. Being upright also encourages your baby to move down on to your cervix (Chaudhry et al 2011, Mackenzie 2006).
Find out more about how walking may bring on labour.
We don't have any evidence yet that hypnotherapy works (Mozurkewich et al 2011), although more research into its effectiveness is under way (Nishi et al 2013).
The theory behind hypnosis is that we need to feel relaxed for labour to start. Feeling stressed and anxious may prevent us from producing oxytocin, a hormone that's needed to start labour and help it to progress (Nishi et al 2013).
Using self-hypnosis CDs or MP3s may help to relax you and take your mind off things for a while, if you're frustrated with being overdue.
Methods to check with your midwife or doctorAlthough some mums swear by these methods, they aren't recommended by health professionals as they all carry potential risks for you and your baby. If you're interested in any of these options, always discuss them with your midwife or GP before trying them.
We don't know exactly how castor oil works. It's thought that it acts as a laxative, stimulating both your tummy and womb, thereby kick-starting labour. However, it's not recommended, as taking castor oil may make you nauseous and give you diarrhoea (Kelly et al 2001).
Find out more about castor oil and labour.
Homeopathic remedies, such as pulsatilla, are often used to kick-start labour. Though some mums say that they found them helpful, there's no evidence that they work. If you're considering this option, make sure that you consult a registered, qualified homeopath as well as your midwife or doctor(Smith 2003).
Find out more about homeopathic remedies and labour.
Herbal remedies, such as blue cohosh and black cohosh, are much stronger than homeopathic remedies, and should not be used during pregnancy. Blue cohosh in particular has been linked to complications for babies at birth. You should always get professional guidance before using herbal remedies(Dugoua et al 2006, Dugoua et al 2008).
Find out more about herbal remedies and labour.
Raspberry leaf can be taken as a tea or in tablet form. It is thought it may stimulate your womb but should not be used to bring on labour (Simpson et al 2001).
Find out more about raspberry leaf and labour.
What is a cervical sweep?
Your midwife can perform a cervical sweep to get labour going if you're overdue. Find out what it involves.More labour and birth videos
BabyCentre mums' unusual methodsHere is a selection of other methods (some of them a little bizarre) that other mums are said to have found helpful. There is no evidence for any of these and frankly we are not convinced!
- Blowing up balloons: the theory is that the build-up of abdominal pressure encourages labour to start.
- Bouncing on your birth ball or driving your car down a bumpy road would seem to put the same faith in shaking things up a little.
- Watching a weepy film and having a good cry.
- Wearing your best knickers (Sod's law will ensure that your waters break in them).
Visit our communityWhile you're waiting for your baby to make an appearance, head over to our hottest community group to chat, swap opinions and put the world to rights!
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Last reviewed: July 2014
ReferencesThis article was written using the following sources:
Chaudhry Z, Fischer J, et al. 2011. Women's Use of Nonprescribed Methods to Induce Labor: A Brief Report. Birth 38(2):168-71
Prodigy. 2008. Dyspepsia - pregnancy-associated. prodigy.library.clarity.co.uk [Accessed September 2011]
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Dugoua JJ, Perri D, et al. 2008. Safety and efficacy of blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) during pregnancy and lactation. Can J Clin Pharmacol 15(1):e66-73
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Smith CA. 2003. Homoeopathy for induction of labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 4. Art. No.: CD003399. mrw.interscience.wiley.com [Accessed September 2011]
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Tiran, D. 2009. Complementary therapies: your questions answered. Use of pineapple for induction of labour. Pract Midwife 12(9):33-4
Tan PC, Andi A, et al. 2006. Effect of coitus at term on length of gestation, induction of labor, and mode of delivery. Obstet Gynecol 108(1):134-40