By Milly Dabrowski, Acupuncturist, Fertile Ground Health Group.
By the time you approach the 40 week mark of you pregnancy, you’re usually plagued by frequent trips to the bathroom, back soreness and feeling like there’s nothing left in your wardrobe that fits! We spoke to Milly Dabrowski, registered Acupuncturist and Co-Director of Fertile Ground Health Group (FGHG), for her top 10 tips on getting labour started naturally.
Not easy at this time, I know! In the same way that your body knows how to initiate a period and digest your food without you controlling it, your body also knows when it is time for your baby to be born. A delicate balance of hormonal communications between your baby and your body are silently at work helping your baby mature and giving your body the right signals for when your baby is ready. Trusting in this process disables your fears, inhibits the production of anxiety related hormones and enables your body to produce adequate hormones to go into labour spontaneously. Meditation, lots of rest, gentle yoga, long walks and surrounding yourself only with loving, positive, safe and supportive friends/family are highly recommended.
2. Sex (if you’re up for it!)
Semen is a natural source of prostaglandins – the very same stuff that is in the gel your obstetrician might use to induce you if overdue. Nature has its own version and orgasm is bound to get that pelvic floor rocking!
3. Nipple stimulation
Gentle rubbing or rolling of the nipple can bring on contractions.
Particularly up stairs or hills but just around the block is good to get your pelvis moving. But remember you really need to find the balance between REST and activity. There is no point getting yourself into labour in a totally exhausted state. You need your energy FOR your labour so be active and get walking but don’t overdo it and make sure you REST A LOT! Also try dancing (especially belly dancing), bouncing on a fit ball or a tractor drive down the paddock (or just a drive down a long bumpy road used to do the trick in the old days!).
5. Raspberry leaf tea – a strong cup every 2 hours
Raspberry leaf has a direct tonifying effect on the smooth muscle of the uterus. This means it will stimulate more Braxton Hicks contractions (practice contractions your body uses to strengthen the uterus) if the uterus is weak, or relax the smooth muscle if it is too taught. Very useful throughout the last trimester, but a great addition to your self-induction efforts.
6. Homeopathic birthing drops
Available at FGHG and taken weekly from 34 weeks and daily in the lead up to labour.
7. Induction acupuncture
Acupuncture has been proven to be a successful induction method for labour, and also helps to shorten labour times. We recommend patients begin birth preparation up to six weeks prior to their due date. With this approach we find patients are more likely to go into labour spontaneously & respond best if induction methods are required.
8. Induction Massage
Massage is particularly good if you are tired, wound up, stressed or if you are feeling fearful (especially if you are fearful of acupuncture!). Massage helps to relax the whole body and consequently changes the chemistry from stress to relaxation. Research does show that relaxation, touch, love, enjoyment and pleasure all help to stimulate oxytocin – the love hormone that really gets your labour going. Oxytocin can be ‘inhibited’ by adrenalin which is why massage is so important along with relaxation, PLENTY of rest and making sure you are getting lots of support around any fears you may have about your labour. Our massage therapists also use acupressure points (similar to acupuncture), essential oils and other techniques to facilitate the onset of labour.
9. Castor oil
This one is a little contentious with many health professionals warning against it due to the risk of inducing diarrhoea and dehydration. However, while it is true that castor oil will move your bowels and give you a good clean out, diarrhoea is usually only caused when too much castor oil is taken. We recommend no more than 30mls of organic, cold-pressed castor oil per dose per day. The best way to take it is mixed into something very tasty like your Vitamin C powder, vigorously shaken and then down the hatch super quick. It is not yummy! Of course in pregnancy we recommend only using organic castor oil which can be sourced from FGHG. Try one dose and a good REST …
Did you think this was an old wives tale? The spices in a good curry have a similar affect to castor oil – if your bowels are sensitive to a good curry (and perhaps a little more pleasant to consume!). As the bowels and uterus are supplied by the same nerves, anything that stimulates the bowels will naturally stimulate the uterus into action also. Emptying the bowel can also help bring the baby’s head further down onto the cervix, which can itself help kick things along. Try a curry before bed and a good long REST …
And of course, don’t forget the value of talking to your counsellor, midwife or dear friend. There is nothing like a good cry and emotional release to clear your blockages and get things moving. And did I mention REST …
Milly is Co-Director of FGHG with her business partner Charmaine. They are multi-passionate entrepreneurs who formed Fertile Ground Health Group over ten years ago. They have over 25 years’ experience between them working as health professionals, as well as individual experience across a broad range of areas from journalism to meditation, marketing and public relations to personal development and business success to yoga and birth attending.