What are the best natural methods for inducing a post-term pregnancy?
November 19, 2008 10:40 AM   Subscribe

What are the best natural methods for inducing a post-term pregnancy?

Yeah, yeah, I read the other threads, but I didn't find anything new.

Does anyone have any suggestions for inducing labor: semen (vaginally/orally); walking hills; acupuncture; extra fluids ... pineapple?

What (if anything) has worked for you? My wife is just past 41 weeks now, and of course is scheduled for (chemical) induction on Monday. We'd like to avoid that if possible, so we're up for most anything.
posted by mrgrimm to Science & Nature (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
My sister swears that bouncing up and down on a big balance ball worked for her and a few of her friends.
posted by amarynth at 10:50 AM on November 19, 2008


Did they strip her membranes yet? Sometimes that helps.

(For what it's worth, an induction isn't necessarily that bad. Just make sure they monitor her carefully. )

Meanwhile, go make whoopie. Never mind how I know that could help.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:57 AM on November 19, 2008


When my wife went ten days past due we induced naturally with sex and the use of a double breast pump. Sex started pre-labor, which stalled out for a while, and then the breast pump got things noticeably moving along in about 20 minutes. It was like we flipped a switch.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:59 AM on November 19, 2008


My wife (a doctor) says medically inducing labor rarely works and that the medical profession favors it b/c there is a stigma against either just waiting or c-sections. The world health organization is against c sections.

The women we know that had induced labors put the baby at high risk each time.

BTW, what did you do with the breast pump? And how did you get that idea?
posted by reddot at 11:06 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


semen (vaginally/orally);
it's the semen hitting the cervix that is helpful, but I can't blame a guy for trying.
posted by agentwills at 11:08 AM on November 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


walking up and down stairs and castor oil worked for me. Or not, may have just been coincidence.
posted by gaspode at 11:26 AM on November 19, 2008


a glass of wine and sexin' it up worked for a friend's wife. (Hi internet! I've got another vaguely-sourced anecdote for you!)
posted by kalimac at 11:31 AM on November 19, 2008


lots and lots of nipple stimulation (as in;- use lube it'll get sore otherwise) or in my case (41 weeks) it needed an extremely hot Indian meal. While "enjoying" my first ring of fire, I realised my waters had broken and things were really underway. Mt midwife always recommends the same thing for this! Best of luck.
posted by Wilder at 11:35 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


nipple stimulation - manual or otherwise produces oxytocin which can help start labor.

Stripping the membranes is a poor way to start labor because the clock starts ticking with ruptured membranes - depending on your hospital you have 12-24 hours to deliver after rupturing membranes - if labor doesn't start in time you can be looking at a c-section.

It's worth avoiding an induction because the rate of medical interventions increases with each one and there are associated risks with each - google "cascade of interventions". So have sex, stimulate her nipples and good luck!
posted by leslies at 11:37 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


My Mom's best friend was two weeks overdue and they were out shopping on day. My father owned a Dairy Queen so they went by to have lunch and see him. The friend ate a large BBQ sandwich and labor started within the hour. Dad put on the marque out front, "If you are due, Come eat our BBQ!" Women came by for years to have the sandwich and get things going. It was quite the talk among the pregnant in our small town. Not sure if it ever worked for anyone else. :-)

Seriously, nipple stimulation produces oxytocin which is the hormone that starts labor. A breast pump or just fingers will get things going. You have to keep at it for a while though. Best of luck, I would also recommend trying to get it going naturally and avoid intervention if you can.
posted by pearlybob at 11:49 AM on November 19, 2008


If more natural methods haven't worked, you might want to ask your doctor/mid-wife about a transcervical foley. It's basically a small balloon that's placed through the cervix, then inflated with water. The pressure helps ripen and open the cervix. I think they are normally used prior to chemical induction, but can often induce labor on their own.

It worked really well for us. My wife was 1.5 weeks passed due, she had the foley placed in the evening, made it through an uncomfortable night, but was able to sleep, then had it taken out the next morning. She was 3 cm dilated when the foley was removed and labor started within a half hour.
posted by rube goldberg at 11:49 AM on November 19, 2008


Sex, prolonged nipple stimulation, Indian food, orgasm would be the traditional quartet. People are iffy on alcohol, not because you'll ZOMG hurt the baby, but because it can also be used to slow contractions - so that one can work both ways.

Please note that in places like the Netherlands, a pregnancy is not considered past term until 42 weeks. The Netherlands has a c-section rate of only 13.6 - half the US rate - and a very low perinatal and maternal mortality rate. So if there is no sign of pre-eclampsia, low waters or any other actual medical indication besides "You're late! And the baby, it might be, you know, big!" feel free to tell Dr. Induction to fuck off.

It's a baby, not a turkey. It's done when it's done.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:49 AM on November 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


FWIW, you don't necessarily have to go to your induction appointment. If there is no sign of distress, you can just wait it out, especially if you don't want to have a verbal fistfight with your OB.
posted by DeucesHigh at 11:56 AM on November 19, 2008


Please note that in places like the Netherlands, a pregnancy is not considered past term until 42 weeks. The Netherlands has a c-section rate of only 13.6 - half the US rate - and a very low perinatal and maternal mortality rate. So if there is no sign of pre-eclampsia, low waters or any other actual medical indication besides "You're late! And the baby, it might be, you know, big!" feel free to tell Dr. Induction to fuck off.

It's a baby, not a turkey. It's done when it's done.


I can't emphasize this enough.

But sex is the most fun method of induction.
posted by sondrialiac at 12:06 PM on November 19, 2008


I was medically induced last week. Membranes stripped on Tuesday, bag broke Friday, delivered Saturday. We did all the natural stuff the previous week. Went with pitocin toward 10th hour of labor. YMMV but BECAUSE he was overdue he had lung problems, say the neonatalogists. There are medical reasons TO induce. Inhailation of miconium is one. I wish I would have listened to my doc who recommended induction a week earlier so we wouldn't have had to have him in NICU for 5 days.
posted by k8t at 12:15 PM on November 19, 2008


mrgrimm (and mrsgrimm, too!) -- congrats on the new little one!!

My wife is just past 41 weeks now, and of course is scheduled for (chemical) induction on Monday. We'd like to avoid that if possible, so we're up for most anything.

Well, to this topic, the first thing I'd to is talk clearly with your doctor about why s/he wants to induce. It it solely due to the dates? (ie: its past 41 weeks, the next step is to induce.) Is the baby in any danger? Are they seeing a reduction in the amount of amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios), for example?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as 14% of pregnancies go to 42 weeks. Here are the current ACOG guidelines for post-term Pregnancy, and a little more from the ACOG. Note in particular that post-term is defined as beyond 42 weeks. Your wife should make sure that she is absolutely, dead sure of her dates. Ultrasound can only tell so much, and I've met more than one woman whose OB persuaded her to induce based solely on fetal age estimate by weight, only to find that the baby's lungs weren't yet ready. Please note that I don't mean to minimize at all the risks of a post-term pregnancy here, because they can be very serious and very real, but (unless you underwent a procedure like IVF or can otherwise pinpoint a specific date of conception) estimating fetal age is really more of an art than a science.

Now, on to "natural methods": The biggest thing is that she needs to be really relaxed - physically relaxed. If you know of anyone who does late-term pregnancy massage, I can't recommend a good all-over body massage enough. Its not unusual for women who are in the hospital waiting to be induced to go into labor naturally just because they've been given a sleeping aid or anti-anxiety meds ... don't underestimate the body's reactions to any stress she might be under (like dreading induction, for example).

-- Sex (specifically semen applied to the cervix)
-- Evening Primrose Oil (take a capsule orally and also let one dissolve in the vagina) (may be a cumulative effect -- some midwives recommend taking oral supplements daily for as much as four weeks prior to the due date, and using vaginally for a few days before labor begins.)
-- Anything that makes the intestines cramp (ie: Castor oil, spicy food, milk/cheese if you're lactose intolerant). Note that this may cause fairly hardcore gastric distress, but intestinal cramps can cause "sympathetic" uterine contractions.

Good luck and enjoy your new baby!!
posted by anastasiav at 12:17 PM on November 19, 2008


Stripping the membranes is a poor way to start labor because the clock starts ticking with ruptured membranes

But stripping or sweeping the membrane is NOT the same as rupturing the membrane or breaking the bag of waters. Stripping does not start the clock on labor.

That said, I let my OB strip my membranes and it was so fucking painful. I started having exremely painful contractions that night, they faded the next day, started up again the following night, etc.

I always felt that the membrane stripping sorted of caused a pre-labor type of situation I might not otherwise have had. I couldn't handle 3 days of off again/on again labor (and by the way, the very first contraction I ever had was just as painful as the ones I was having when I was in active labor - there was no ramping up), so I went to the hospital, got the epidural, stalled, and got the c-section. Just my personal experience.

I felt rushed because I had gestational diabetes and my OB didn't want me to go "late" but 42 week pregnancies sort of run in the family and I wish I had been more of an advocate for myself at the time.
posted by peep at 12:21 PM on November 19, 2008


For my recent delivery, my midwife stripped the membranes (which wasn't particularly painful for me, YMMV) and 2 days later I drank 2 oz. castor oil, which then, as advertised, gave me the runs. Took castor oil at 5 pm, started having contractions at midnight, delivered at 5 am. Good luck!

drinking castor oil is vile. but then, so probably would be drinking 2 oz. of canola oil.
posted by leahwrenn at 12:42 PM on November 19, 2008


More anecdotes: My first was ten days late. We tried all the home remedies except castor oil. I went into labor the night before my scheduled induction. 18-hour labor; healthy, 9-lb baby.

My second was a week overdue. Again, we tried all the home remedies, including evening primrose oil. I went in for the routine ultrasound and got some "non-reassuring" results, i.e. the baby wasn't moving. However the nonstress test (i.e. heart-rate monitor) was fine, and I could *feel* her squirming plenty. Nonetheless, lots of pressure to induce from my midwife (who, as it turns out, had almost the same approach to care as my OB the first time -- go figure). She tried stripping the membranes (wicked painful!) which started false labor, but the contractions died out in a few hours. I was eventually convinced to check in and get a cervical ripener (Cytotec, I think). Not much happened, and the next day I successfully lobbied to go home, rather than have the waters broken or start on Pitocin. Later that afternoon labor started for real and I was back in the hospital having a baby within 3 hours. It was one of those Hollywood labors, with my husband coaching me through the breathing in the car. I was 9 cm dilated when I arrived. Healthy baby, 8 1/2 lbs.

So, my advice would be: just wait, if you possibly can. The baby will NOT stay in there forever, although it may seem like it. If you do agree to interventions, be prepared for them to work in unexpected ways.

Good luck, and congratulations!
posted by libraryhead at 12:43 PM on November 19, 2008


Stripping the membranes is a poor way to start labor because the clock starts ticking with ruptured membranes - depending on your hospital you have 12-24 hours to deliver after rupturing membranes - if labor doesn't start in time you can be looking at a c-section.

Stripping the membranes and breaking the membranes are NOT the same thing. Just sayin'.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:46 PM on November 19, 2008


Nipple stimulation and lots of walking.
posted by amyms at 1:18 PM on November 19, 2008


Sex is nice and all, but I read that it takes at least six times the normal amount of semen ejaculated to have any effect on starting labor. Nipple stimulation would be more effective. That said, I went to 42 weeks and tried everything (acupuncture, evening primrose oil, uterine tonic teas, sex, swept membranes---gosh, painful!--and walking). Nothing seemed to have any direct effect. In the end, I started labor naturally the night before I was supposed to be induced.

Now pregnant with my second, I realize that this kid is in the most convenient place possible and there's NO WAY I'm going to speed things up unless unambiguously medically necessary. If they want to induce for dates only, I just won't show up at the hospital. I intend to use that time to sleep and spend time with Mr. and Toddler Cocoa.

Good luck!
posted by cocoagirl at 2:17 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for all the kind wishes and suggestions! It's always encouraging to get support and ideas from people who've been there before.

Did they strip her membranes yet? Sometimes that helps.

Our midwife would have done that on Tuesday, but my wife's cervix was really "long," even folded over on itself. She said she would strip/sweep the membranes if she could, but it wasn't possible. (I'm kinda glad now because we didn't know it was supposed to be very painful.)

We really need to ripen the cervix. I'm a little worried b/c our midwife uses misoprostol/Cytotec to ripen, which is the only thing about the practice that has bothered me at all. (Believe me, I know all about Cytotec, so no need for the stories right now, please.)

Stripping the membranes is a poor way to start labor because the clock starts ticking with ruptured membranes ...

Everybody already answered that one. Not the same thing ... I'm not sure we'll even get a chance to try AROM.

We've got a birth ball, so I told my wife to start bouncing! My mom says she used to make my dad drive down really bumpy roads. A ball seems easier. ;)

She's also started acupuncture and will continue treatment tomorrow and through the weekend. (Kinda surprised nobody mentioned that one.)

semen (vaginally/orally);
it's the semen hitting the cervix that is helpful, but I can't blame a guy for trying.


Our childbirth class material included an article that said the prostaglandins in semen were 10x more effective when ingested orally...

Here's the article:

"semen's potent prostaglandins are ten times more efficient when absorbed through the gut via oral sex, for the zealous committed couple"

Ymmv, but why not give it a try? ;)

We're sexing it up, but haven't really gone for the full-blown nipple stimulation (e.g. breast-pump style) yet. That's next on the list!

Sex is nice and all, but I read that it takes at least six times the normal amount of semen ejaculated to have any effect on starting labor.

Well, my porn star name has been Kum Bukkets (the Netherlands theme keeps popping up), so you never know ... thanks again. I'll keep checking back for more suggestions.

Also, we went through 18 hours of natural childbirth classes, so we know the benefits, risks, and alternatives for all the common interventions, as well as the different standard practices from U.S. state to U.S. state, and in different countries.

However, we are planning to induce at 41 weeks and 6 days, because there definitely does seem to be some danger to waiting more than 42 weeks,

Our midwife seems to believe that if you wait too long to induce (past 42 weeks), you can miss the opportunity and actually increase the chances of a c-section. She's delivered over 500 babies and I trust her. She also apparently has a lower c-section rate (12%) than the Netherlands, so I feel like we are in pretty good hands.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:54 PM on November 19, 2008


If you are due, Come eat our BBQ!

Oh, also, almost forgot. We're both vegetarians, but she's started eating beef again in the past few days. Her acupuncturist told her that it would strengthen her blood. I didn't see any drawbacks if it was good beef (aside from you know, the cow killing.)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:57 PM on November 19, 2008


I did a course in shiatsu (japanese massage) a while back and there were certain pressure points we were told to avoid if practicing on pregnant women 1, 2, 3 because they could induce labour. All of the teachers had treated ladies who were past term and generally got results, in one case the labour started during the treatment, so i'd recommend shiatsu or acupuncture if you can find a practitioner and can afford it. If not Gall bladder 21, the second link, is the one to try at home as its easy to find and is used specifically for this purpose, its basically where the link says but if you need another landmark feel for the top of the shoulder blade. Once you've got it (it may well be quite tender) try kneeling behind your wife and pressing down on both shoulders at once with your palms as if you were dunking her under the water. Try to keep your hands relaxed and gently lean your body weight in. hope this is of some help and good luck
posted by chelegonian at 3:29 PM on November 19, 2008


Stripping membranes is indeed not the same as rupturing them - but can can often result in ruptured membranes - hence my comment.

An induction won't take - membranes stripped or not if the cervix isn't ripe enough.

I was induced with my first because of being post-date. I won't go into the details here - not important. I would urge you to stall until your wife is at 42 weeks unless there is evidence of the baby or the placenta being in trouble because the risks of interventions causing further problems is real. That said, I think the most important thing she can do is to not be stressed about the situation which is far easier to say than do. I hope she goes into labor on her own and has as easy a delibery as possible!
posted by leslies at 4:39 PM on November 19, 2008


I asked the question in one of the previous induction threads, and I ended up having the baby induced at 37 weeks (gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension). After such a stressful pregnancy, I was really worried about the level of intervention and difficulty of induced labor. Well, I shouldn't have worried - it was a super easy labor and delivery. Started at 7 am, done by 5 pm, napping in the middle, super low on the intervention scale, other than the monitoring for my other conditions. And super healthy perfect happy baby! So, one data point for you if you end up with the chemical induction. Good luck and congratulations!
posted by faustessa at 5:09 PM on November 19, 2008


d'oh. I didn't know marking favorites would clear my comment. double d'oh!

Anyway, thanks much, faustessa, for the positive story about hospital induction. I hope if it comes to that ours goes as smoothly.

chelagonian, my wife went to the acupuncturist Tuesday, and she put the little tacks in spots 1 and 3 on both hands and legs. She talked to her about #2, but said that it was usually more effective during labor, to initiate the pushing stage. What the hell, though, I say. It's worth a shot.

leslies, we are waiting about as long as our midwife feels comfortable. we'll be starting induction, if we still feel it's necessary, with a cervical ripener at 41 weeks and 5 days.

4 weeks + 3 days to 4 weeks + 5 days tends to be the period our midwife likes to do it.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:46 PM on November 20, 2008


Masturbation. Long ride on a bumpy road. Rhubarb.

I've had experience with one of the above that worked, pretty much immediately, but anectodal evidence of the the other two working as well. Good luck.
posted by wv kay in ga at 11:49 PM on November 21, 2008


Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that we used acupuncture as well. It was somewhat effective. My wife had a really, really long labor (home birth); she questions the acupuncture's effectiveness.

Here's a pic of her acupuncture in progress.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:23 PM on November 24, 2008


Well, we tried pretty much every suggestion in this thread, but our little girl just did not want to come out unassisted, at least not by 41 weeks and 5 days. ;)

My wife started Monday night with a single dose of misoprostol (cytotec) around 11pm, and when the new nurse checked her out at 3am, she said my wife didn't need any more doses ... but she was pushing the pitocin hard. We wisely (imo) deferred until consulting with our midwife in the morning.

At 5:30am, the nurse was again pushing the pitocin, but my wife knew better and that contractions were starting. We went for a walk around the hospital, and by 6am, labor was in full swing.

Labor came on *very* fast that morning, and contractions were often one after another with only 5-10 seconds between the end of one and the start of the next or no rest time at all. Transition was extremely intense, and she went from 2cm to 7cm in only 2-3 hours, and then to 10cm in less than an hour. After pushing for about 45 minutes, my wife reached down and took our new little girl from our midwife. Amazing! 9lbs, 6 oz; 21 inches long; 38cm head. Big girl!

Thanks again for all the suggestions and well wishes.

Honestly, I'm very curious what would have happened if we opted out of the misoprostol induction, but I can't possibly say anything bad against it, because while labor was a little more intense and fast than my wife was prepared for, it was nearly everything we could have hoped for.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:25 PM on November 26, 2008


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