Ways to bring on labour

Welcome to our October edition of Booble Blog. This month we’re exploring all the tips, tricks (and sometimes a little crazy) things women do to bring on labour when they’re overdue.

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that most labour-inducing hacks are still only theories, so it’s best to consult your medical practitioner before you start experimenting. And, of course, waiting for your baby to come naturally is always the best option.

For more information about labour, explore our Best Laid Labour Plans pregnancy guide.

OK, let’s get into everything from chili to Chinese medicine:

1. Walking

The theory of upping your steps in the last few weeks of pregnancy is that it can help draw the baby down into your pelvic area, and the pressure of the baby could prime your cervix for labour. Whether it works, we’re not 100% sure, but any exercise right now can only be a good thing, right?

2. Acupuncture

For those who have never paid to be poked with needles, Acupuncture is the art of inserting thin needles into specific pressure points on the body. It’s said to relieve pain and discomfort while helping aid relaxation. When it comes to inducing labour, the needles can stimulate uterine activity, giving the body a polite nudge to get things moving.

This one seems to have some weight behind it from a few different studies, so if you’re game, give it a stab! (see what we did there?)

3. Sex

While sexy-time probably isn’t at the top of your ‘want right now’ list, sperm contains prostaglandins, a hormone that can help thin and dilate the cervix. So, if you can manage it, channel your inner George Michael and sing ‘I want your sex’ to your partner. If labour isn’t the end result, at least you’ve had some intimate time together, something you won’t get a lot of when your little one is here.

4. Evening primrose oil

Many midwives suggest evening primrose oil for their pregnant mummas, since this herb can help the cervix thin and dilate. But of course don't use any herbs without getting the green light from your doctor or midwife. A word of warning, women with placenta previa should stay away from this one.

5. Castor oil

This one is a little controversial. It’s said that by drinking a little bit, like only 1–2 ounces of castor oil, it can stimulate a prostaglandin release, which can help get labour started. The problem is that caster oil can also wreak havoc on your bowels, causing a bad case of diarrhea. So we’re a bit meh on this one. If you’re keen to try, maybe chat to your doctor first. But from what we've heard, this stuff does not taste pleasant! God’s speed.

6. Nipple stimulation

What better way to get your nipples ready for breastfeeding than to squeeze them like a dairy cow? OK, no, that’s not what they say to do. Apparently if you massage and twist your nipples, this causes your body to release the hormone oxytocin, which brings on contractions. But some practitioners don't recommend this one, because it can cause painfully long and strong uterine contractions that could potentially lower fetal heart rate.

7. Spicy food

This is an age-old theory that people still try today. The idea is that spicy food, like castor oil, irritates your intestines, which causes your uterus to contract. There isn’t really enough evidence to prove that it does in fact induce labour, but if you generally tolerate spicy food well, go for it.

8. Massage

Probably our favourite labour-inducing hack, massage is thought to raise your body's level of oxytocin, that magical hormone that can bring on contractions. Why do we love this one? Because who doesn’t want a massage when your feet hurt, your back throbs and you just deserve one?!

If nothing seems to be working and your baby just isn’t keen to leave his or her warm little womb, then it’s probably time to chat to your doctor about next steps and options to move forward.

And don’t forget that your baby could still come at any time, so make sure you have that hospital bag packed and ready to go!

Finding yourself Googling everything from boobs and bums to bubs and bibs? Visit our New Beginnings website, where you’ll find a range of helpful articles, products and tips for navigating this new chapter of your life - mummahood.