Past your due date? 8 Natural ways to induce labour
There are both medical and natural ways to bring on labour, and before your health practitioner tries any of the medical methods, it may be worth giving a few of these natural methods a go. By the time you’re overdue, you’ll probably give anything a try, but it might be best to contact your GP or midwife if you plan to use any of these suggestions - some natural methods have strong effects which may not be suited to you.
Contractions can start at any time, but usually within the two weeks before or after your due date. In a recent poll, most women either had their babies early or went over a week overdue:
- 36% said their baby came early
- 10% said their baby was on time
- 8% said they went over their due date by a day
- 15% said they were up to a week overdue
- 31% said they went more than a week overdue
Bear in mind that only 10% of women said their babies came on their actual due date, so don't be too disheartened when your baby does not arrive exactly on this day. Once you get past 37 weeks, you are considered to be 'full term' which means your baby is fully grown and would have no problems surviving outside the womb. If you've had the go-ahead from your GP or midwife, there is no reason why you cannot try some of the methods below to try to jump-start labour:
Female orgasms stimulate the first uterine contractions and semen contains the hormone prostaglandin, which softens the cervix, so having sex can be a double labour-starting whammy. On the downside, sex can be pretty difficult when your belly gets in the way, and you may not be feeling particularly sexy. Try lying on your side with your partner behind you, or on all fours with plenty of pillows to support your knees, or a bed or chair in front of you to support your forearms.
When your nipples are stimulated (about 15 minutes of finger stimulation around the whole nipple area), oxytocin is produced, which can encourage uterine contractions. Some doctors advise against this method because there are reports that it can bring on very painful contractions. If you do plan to try this method, talk to your GP first.
Drinking castor oil
When your bowels are stimulated, they produce prostaglandin, which helps to soften the cervix. Try adding a few drops of castor oil to orange, cranberry or grapefruit juice – stronger juice flavours can hide the taste. Bear in mind that castor oil will probably cause you to empty your bowels after about three hours, and can leave you feeling dehydrated, so it is not recommended unless your GP or midwife gives you the go-ahead.
Walking around the block
When you walk your body releases oxytocin, which stimulates uterine contractions, so go for a brisk walk around the block once or twice a day, if you feel you can manage it. Walking allows your hips to swing from side-to-side which also encourages your baby into a good position for labour.
Raspberry leaf tea
Raspberry leaf tea can tone up the muscles in your uterus getting them ready for labour and can be drunk from 37 weeks onwards. Raspberry tea is available in tablet form if you don’t like the taste of the drink.
Some women swear by the curry method, but there is no real scientific evidence that it helps bring on labour. Try eating a curry on or after your due date.
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain which is thought to help soften the cervix. Tinned or canned pineapples do not contain as much of this enzyme, so make a fresh fruit salad or eat freshly cut pineapple on its own.
Have a relaxing bath
Some people believe that labour only starts when your body decides it's ready, so the thinking behind having a relaxing bath is to totally relax and prepare your mind for labour. Some women claim that adding clary sage essential oil to your bath can help to start contractions and also relaxes you. At the very least, at least you can shave your legs (if you can reach) in preparation for labour!