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How can I kick-start labor?

 In Ask an Expert, Midwifery, Pulse Blog

Q: How can I induce labor naturally?

As their due date approaches, many women wonder what they can do to jump-start their labor. The truth is, if the body is not ready for labor then they just have to be patient. Every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different. Labor’s beginning can be unpredictable.

However, midwives do have some recommendations to help ripen the cervix so that labor can get started. At about 36 weeks gestation, moms-to-be can start taking herbal supplements such as evening primrose oil or red raspberry leaf tea. These herbal supplements help promote labor by softening the cervix. Closer to their due date, women can opt to have their midwife strip their membranes. This procedure encourages the release of oxytocin, which is a hormone women naturally produce in labor. Another way to ripen the cervix is having sexual intercourse. Semen has prostaglandins that will help to soften the cervix, similar to the prostaglandins used during an induction.

These recommendations are safe in pregnancy and can be beneficial in kick-starting labor. It is important to remember, however, that these recommendations may or may not produce labor. If a woman’s body is not ready for labor, then patience is the best policy.

Lori Watson is a certified nurse midwife at Vancouver Clinic. She holds a master of science with a specialty in nurse midwifery from Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, Kentucky. Lori enjoys spending time with her clients and guiding them to become experts in their own care.

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