The start of the natural childbirth process does not happen in the same way for all people. In some mothers, without the intervention of a doctor or midwife, the process of childbirth does not start by itself. They must consider taking measures to induce labor. In this article, various ways to induce labor and the risks and tips of doing them are presented.
What is Labor Induction?
The induction of labor is a method used by therapists to initiate the process of labor. This method is performed in cases where there is concern about the health of the mother or the fetus. It is also considered when the pregnancy has been too long. Or in cases where it is better to terminate the labor earlier.
For this purpose, measures are taken to start regular uterine contractions and the cervix gradually softens and returns. This is to help the fetus pass through it and be born.
The pain caused by the induction of labor is called artificial pain in pregnancy. Before explaining more in this regard, we should know that natural ways to induce labor are not safe solutions. They should be selected and performed carefully under the supervision of a specialist.
Who has an Easy Natural Delivery?
This question can be asked in another way: who does not need labor pain induction methods? In general, a comfortable delivery is influenced by various factors. In women with no special disease and a healthy fetus during pregnancy, the chances of an easy pregnancy are very high.
In general, having an easy physiological delivery depends on several factors. These include a woman's physical strength, proper nutrition, adequate rest during pregnancy, and strengthening exercises such as Kegel exercises before natural childbirth.
When is it Recommended to Induce Labor?
- Pregnancies longer than 41 weeks and premature delivery
- Rupture of the water sac and failure to start labor pains
- Intrauterine infection
- Undesirable and low growth of the fetus inside the uterus
- An abnormal decrease in the volume of fluid around the fetus
- Having gestational diabetes
- Having high blood pressure
- Suffering from pregnancy poisoning (pre-eclampsia)
- Placental separation
- Mother suffering from other serious medical problems
To stimulate the onset of pains and the process of natural childbirth, the position of the cervix is very important. In most cases, it is necessary for the doctor or midwife to prepare the cervix for childbirth, soften it and open it slightly.
Ways of Preparing the Cervix for Childbirth
Use of prostaglandins
Prostaglandins are compounds that are naturally produced and released inside the body. They play an important role in starting the process of pregnancy and opening the cervix. These compounds can be used orally or as vaginal suppositories. However, they are often not recommended for mothers who have a history of C-sections.
Use of cervical opening devices
Placing a urinary catheter in the cervix, using materials that increase in volume by absorbing water, and gradually opening the cervix is among the most important methods. This can eventually cause the birth process to begin.
How to Induce Labor Naturally
Use of oxytocin
Oxytocin is a hormone that is secreted by the pituitary gland (a gland inside the brain). This hormone plays the main role in the labor process. This hormone causes regular uterine contractions and promotes the stages of fetal birth.
Separating the fetal membranes from the uterine wall
During pregnancy, the fetus is inside liquid-filled membranes. These are called fetal membranes or water sacs and provide the possibility of life, and growth and also maintain safety. Research shows that the separation of the fetal membranes from the uterine wall by the doctor will be a factor in inducing labor.
Rupture of the amniotic sac
The rupture of the fetal membranes helps to start the process of pregnancy. It is a factor to stimulate progress in the stages of delivery. But before the opening of the cervix and placing the fetus in the right position, the doctor or midwife will never tear the amniotic sac.
This must be done in the delivery room and after the opening of the cervix. The most important risk of tearing the membranes is the penetration and growth of infection inside the uterus.
Having sex to induce labor
Now you may ask the recurrent question of pregnant mothers: “does sex induce labor”? Theoretically, this method may induce labor, but in practice, it is not successful.
Also, there was an article published in 2019 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. According to the article, it was found that this home labor induction method is not very effective. However, nipple stimulation to induce labor may work for some women.
Using acupuncture or acupressure
Stimulating certain points in the body with the help of acupressure points or acupuncture is another method that can soften the cervix. However, based on the studies, there are no special benefits in using these methods to increase the chance of natural birth. For example, some believe that applying pressure on ankle bone can help to induce. However, using pressure points to induce labor has also no strong scientific proof.
Eating castor oil to start labor
In the case of foods that induce labor, it must be said that the use of herbal compounds during pregnancy is not recommended. This is due to the uncertainty of its effects on the fetus.
Regarding the consumption of castor oil, its arbitrary use is not recommended. It is due to the side effects of this substance on the mother. However, there is a belief that the compounds inside the pineapple fruit are related to preparing the cervix for labor. However, no proper and valid study has been done to prove this.
Exercising to start labor
A study was published in 2020 in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. Tt was shown in this article that doing exercise to induce labor can work. In this study, mothers who have walled three times a week (each time for 30 minutes at a speed of 4 kilometers per hour), compared to mothers who only had daily and normal activities during this period, had less need for labor induction methods with medications such as Prostaglandin and oxytocin. Training with exercise balls or birthing balls is also effective.
Risks of Natural Labor Induction
In some natural childbirth methods to induce labor at home, the uterus may undergo severe and abnormal contractions. This type of contraction can cause problems in the blood supply of the umbilical cord. It also reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the fetus and causes abnormal heartbeat patterns in the fetus.
Among the other risks that labor induction methods have for the mother and the fetus, the following can be mentioned:
- Infection in the mother or fetus
- Uterine rupture
- Increased likelihood of needing a C-section
- Heavy bleeding after childbirth
- Death of the baby
Also, medical problems that existed in the mother before pregnancy or appeared during pregnancy may also be combined with these risks and multiply the problems.
Signs of Approaching Natural Delivery
The goal is to not use labor induction methods as much as possible due to the risks mentioned above. Therefore, you should look for signs of natural childbirth. As your due date approaches, expect to experience symptoms including:
- Lowering of the uterus towards the pelvis; in this situation, you will see the abdomen moving downwards.
- Seeing brownish bloody secretions
- Rupture of water bag
- Uterine contractions and the onset of labor pains
These factors show that your natural birth is happening spontaneously and there is no need to use labor induction methods.
Does Labor Induction always lead to a Successful Natural Birth?
No! In general, in a quarter of cases, the use of these methods does not stimulate labor. When one of the labor induction methods is ineffective, one has two ways. Either another method should be used to start the natural delivery process, or the fetus should be delivered by cesarean section.
Also, a study investigated the probability that the induction of vaginal delivery is not successful. In such cases, the doctor is forced to perform a cesarean section. Based on the evidence, the probability is higher in mothers with a completely closed cervix than in mothers with a history of childbirth. The latter have suitable conditions in the cervix.
Finally, keep in mind that the use of natural childbirth induction methods and the prevention of complications of delayed childbirth are only used in certain cases. These should only be diagnosed by your therapist. Tired of the long months of pregnancy and discomfort caused by weight gain, you cannot decide on that.