Natural ways TO INDUCE YOUR BABY
Your due date has come and gone, and as the days roll past and your baby seems determined never to make an appearance, your impatience runs out. What can you do to get things moving?
It’s been a roller coaster few months, full of excitement and wonder as you’ve watched your body change and expand, and tracked your baby’s growth in the womb. But now you’ve had enough. You’re having trouble sleeping, your heartburn has become chronic, and you seem to be peeing every 10 minutes. What options do you have to give your body a bit of a natural encouragement? The first and most important thing to understand, says midwife Heather Pieterse, whose Pretoria-based practice has been assisting with home births for 17 years, is that there’s nothing (non-medical) you can do to bring on labour if your body isn’t ready. “Most first-time – and many secondand third-time – moms will go over their due dates, without anything being wrong,” she says. “Only between 41 and 42 weeks should induction be considered, if all else is well with the pregnancy and there are no contra-indications.”
“Reflexology assists in breaking down congestions
in the body so that it is better able to eliminate toxins,” explains Johannesburg-based therapeutic reflexologist Michelle Walton. “This opens up the channels of communication between the brain, the hormonal glands and the organs, including the uterus. This little nudge may increase the physiological functionality of the uterus.” Reflexology is also relaxing, and alleviates anxiety and stress. “The combination of detoxing the body, reducing stress and anxiety, and the stimulation of the hormone-producing glands and reproductive organs is known to ‘switch on’ labour, after which it tends to progress as it would if the mother had gone into labour naturally,” Michelle explains.
GET SOME GENTLE PHYSICAL EXERCISE
“Movement such as deep squatting, walking and climbing chairs will help to move the baby down into the pelvis and may start labour,” says nursing sister and midwife Christine Klynhans. “Walking up and down a flight of stairs sideways is even better,” adds Michelle, “as it opens up the pelvis more.”
GET THOSE HORMONES GOING
“Technically, having sexual intercourse and nipple stimulation may kick-start labour,” says Christine. “Sperm contains prostaglandins, which soften the cervix, while lovemaking and nipple stimulation increase the release of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin, which is also responsible for stimulating uterine contractions,” Michelle explains. “And a woman’s orgasm can stimulate uterine contractions.” You can stimulate your nipple yourself. “Take the nipple between your thumb and index finger and roll it very gently from side to side for no less than five minutes. Don’t continue on the other breast, just relax and carry on with your day. A good time to try nipple stimulation is while having a lovely long warm bath,” says Michelle.
USE EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
Christine suggests using evening primrose to help ripen the cervix. This herbal oil may be taken orally in capsule form from week 38, while some recommend inserting the oil vaginally. You could also use the oil for perineal massage. Christine stresses, however, that you mustn’t use any herbal mixture, douche or traditional medicine that hasn’t been cleared by your midwife or gynaecologist.
TRY HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES
“There are homeopathic remedies that are very effective in getting your labour going,” says Michelle. “Contact a registered homeopath to learn more about which remedies are safe and effective to use.”
“Clary sage and jasmine are two essential oils that stimulate uterine contractions,” Michelle says. “You can use them from 39 weeks. Five drops of each in a nice warm bath is very relaxing. Splash it around and inhale the vapours as you’re doing your nipple stimulation. Or place five drops on a little piece of cotton wool and pop it in your bra for the day.”
WHAT NOT TO DO
Eating certain substances, such as a whole pineapple or a very hot curry, has been said to bring on labour. But, cautions Michelle, “my opinion is that by the time you’ve eaten enough of these two foods to induce labour, you may have a bit of a tummy problem and could spend your entire labour on the loo!” “Driving on bumpy roads has a jarring effect on the uterus and can also be harmful and dangerous,” Heather notes. And don’t go the castor-oil route – “This can be harmful to the baby, as the castor oil affects not only the mother’s gut but the baby’s too,” she warns.
Reflexology for induction of labour isn’t an option for women who have experienced bleeding during their pregnancy, deepvein thrombosis, pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure), pica syndrome (eating non-food items) or placental abruption.