There are any number of ways to induce labor. They vary from nipple stimulation and intercourse, to ingesting herbs and substances like castor oil. Any method you are interested in should be discussed with your practitioner, prior to attempting to use self-induction techniques.
Benefits: Typically less intervention and less likely to lead to a cesarean. Generally if your body and baby are not ready these will not work, but varies by method. Easier to do and less worrisome for most moms.
Disadvantages: There can be serious consequences, particularly if you are not at term and your baby is not ready to be born. Many of the old wives tales, like castor oil, do not generally work and can have potential complications including things like meconium staining, fetal distress, etc. Always check with your practitioner before using any of these methods.
Types of Home Inductions
Many women will swear by one or all of these, however, not all women will go in to labor with any method of induction.
- Sexual intercourse
- Orgasm with or without a partner
- Nipple stimulation
- Certain foods (i.e. spicy foods, oily salads)
- Bumpy car rides
- Strenuous activity
- Castor Oil
- Certain herbs and homeopathics (Black and Blue Cohosh, Caulophyllum, etc.)
Many times inductions are done for the reason of being past your due date. There has been some research recently that shows that due dates actually need to be longer than 40 weeks. Often these are unnecessary inductions.
Sometimes they are done because a woman is attempting a VBAC or has suspected large baby. Many studies have shown that these are not necessarily good reasons for induction, particularly if the cervix is not ripe.
Many people are surprised to find that there are many different types of induction and that not one will work for every pregnancy.
Some women are fearful of induction for a variety of reasons, including increased chances of a c-section, increased need for pain medications, or the fear of the reason for induction, particularly if there is a question about the baby's health.
Will an induction be more painful than natural labor? Not necessarily, that really depends more on your reasons for induction, the type of induction and whether or not your mobility is limited. Many women are able to be induced and still follow through with their plans for an unmedicated birth, though they can expect certain changes in their birth plans.P] If induction is suggested, gather facts and information, and ask questions. Why is it being suggested? How would it be attempted? What happens if it doesn't work? What happens if you do nothing?
As you can see there is not a consensus on the use of induction, though it does seem to be wide spread. It has it's time and place, as any intervention does for medical reasons, though even the experts can't agree on all of the times an induction would be for medical reasons.