Inducing Labor: What Really Works & What Doesn’t

How is labor induced? There are several theories, some of which have been utilized for centuries but for which there is no redeeming value, according to expert doctors. Inducing labor encompasses many procedures. What really works and what doesn’t is the topic of this discussion.

Among the two most popular techniques are sexual intercourse and stimulation of the nipples. Apparently, sexual intercourse “stimulates dilation” and causes uterine contractions. While stimulation of the nipples also stimulates contractions by releasing a hormone called oxytocin. However, for those who are prematurely in labor, these techniques are not recommended by physicians.

While there is another way to induce labor which is called “stripping the membranes,” this too has not been widely approved nor has been considered an effective method since it may be a catalyst in breaking the water prematurely. However, this practice is used when the doctor feels that dilation is sufficient and labor has not started.

Another so-called method to induce labor is one that many women have learned from generation to generation and that is the process of walking. Although it may alleviate back pain experienced by pregnant women, it really does nothing to induce labor.

One study suggests that “the use of castor oil stimulates the gastro-colic reflex.” Doctors have determined that this in turn releases “prostaglandins” which also are attributed to inducing labor. Although some may choose to eat certain foods which have an affect on your gastrointestinal system and thus your bowels, some doctors admit these remedies help to induce labor while others consider it pure nonsense.

Another study has determined that primrose oil can prepare the cervix, however the jury is still out on whether or not it induces labor. However, it is recommended that the use of herbal teas, specifically cohosh, which has a clotting affect and should not be used at all.

While old wives tales have been handed down from mother to mother, the best thing you can do is heed the advice of your doctor who knows if labor needs to be induce and what methods can be safely and effectively utilized. More importantly, if you are past your due date your doctor may resort to drugs which have not been approved by the FDA. Thus it is vital that you speak to your doctor to ensure he or she is most qualified to deal with labor induction if and when it is necessary.

Ask questions about inducing labor and the procedures and medications your doctor may choose. Ask about side effects and other problems which may occur, then seek a second or third opinion, especially if this is your first pregnancy. The truth of the matter is if you are past your due date, and there is no immediate danger to you or your baby, let nature take its course. The general rule of thumb is that unless you are two weeks past your due date, there is no need for intervention.