After the initial excitement of the pregnancy passes away, and weeks turn into months, most women realize that pregnancy isn’t all that it’s made out to be. In fact, the delivery becomes the most exciting and yet, the most dreadful part of the whole experience. Isn’t it? That baby’s got to come out somehow, so which would be the best way to induce labor for the easiest and ideally, cheapest delivery?
The advanced medical technologies that we have today did not exist up until a few decades ago, which forced expectant women before those times to either rely on the arrival of labor naturally, or try some quick-fix home remedies.
Now while a lot of those remedies did work, an even higher number of these methods failed to induce labor. Which begs the question – with so many options to choose from, which is the best method for labor induction? Needless to say, the best method is one that is least painful, energy and time consuming.
But then, how many women even know about the existence of these non-traditional and even weird ways to induce labor? Science has opened new possibilities for those women who're thinking about trying some non-conventional techniques to ensure a successful childbirth. And here’s the most important aspect of labor induction – getting rid of the fear.
No matter what method is used, fear can significantly prevent the muscles from getting relaxed and comfortable so the whole thing can be strenuous. Even though the methods provided below are (mostly) proven, reliable, and efficient, it's highly recommended to consultation with a doctor before trying anything that might go against strict pregnancy guidelines.
Let's begin with weird labor inducing tactics.
15 The Forward-Leaning Inversion
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Sometimes it so happens that the baby inside the womb isn't well positioned. This is where forward leaning inversion comes to play. It releases the utero-sacral ligament of the mother, giving the baby more space to move around and thus, moving into a better position.
A lot of people wrongfully attribute it to gravity “doing its thing”, but they’re wrong. It works by leaning forward slowly, while keeping one’s palms and plantar placed on the ground and the knees positioned uprightly.
It’s becoming an increasingly popular method among women, particularly because it involves no special knowledge, medicine or equipment. It is excellent for women in labor, or those with no contraindications.
It is recommended for women who are 30 weeks or less pregnant (as a regular activity) and is a technique used by women in their 32nd week (or more) of pregnancy when their babies are in an unstable position. It also helps in speeding up labor.
14 Giving Birth In Water
A water birth means that a portion of the pregnancy, or the entire pregnancy itself, occurs when the pregnant women is inside a pool, a bathtub or a natural water body (which is not advised).
There are at least 2-3 people who help the said lady through her labor and delivery, and this method is not without its advantages, including no requirement for anesthesia, lesser pain and a speedier labor.
In fact, it’s considered as one of the least painful ways of delivering a baby, but it also requires the most effort to deliver one. Make sure that if option for a water birth at home, the water is warm. This is because warm water stimulates the production of endorphins which acts like opium for the woman in labor.
For those opting for professional help can choose one among many US birthing centers and hospitals that specially offer the option of water births.
13 Using A Pilates Ball
A birthing ball (or a pilates ball if you don’t have a birthing ball) helps pregnant women adopt different upright positions, which in turn ensures a smooth labor. In fact, it has been noted that these balls help in shortening labors by as much as an hour!
The goal of performing light exercises on the ball is to reduce the pain in the lower back, rump, and pelvic floor, and also to stimulate the baby to start moving down. It's important to hold on with one hand so the body can keep the correct balance.
One of the most important things to keep in mind while purchasing a ball is to ensure that it is made from anti-burst material. In the case of the ball being pricked or punctured, it will not burst immediately, but will deflate slowly, thus ensuring safety for both mother and child.
12 Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)
Cesarean section is a surgical operation like any other, so it has certain risks. That's why it should be performed only in a case when a vaginal delivery is too risky for mother or child. If a woman still wants to have a conventional vaginal delivery after cesarean section, go ahead! It's especially possible for mothers who had a cesarean section earlier due to an inappropriate position of the baby.
If a pregnant lady agrees to have a VBAC, they undergo what is known as "trial of labor after cesarean,". Here, the aim is to go into labor naturally so that the baby can be pushed out of the vagina.
However, despite all the advancement in technologies we have today, it’s still difficult to assess the success rate of VBAC, meaning whether or not they will have to undergo a C-section after the vaginal delivery. Needless to say, this technique has multiple advantages, including lesser pain after delivery, no uterus scars, lesser chances of having an infection and being discharged quickly from the hospital.
11 Forceps Delivery
Forcep here, is a spoon sized, medical device used in surgery which can be helpful during a vaginal delivery. The tool is mainly used to avoid the cesarean section. Even though the cervix might be opened, sometimes a several hours after trying to get the baby out, a bit of help is needed to complete the process.
Therefore, the doctor will use the forceps and place them on the baby's head. Then during contractions, the mother should keep pushing, making it easier for the doctor to get the job done.
Needless to say, the patient is given medicine (numbing medicine on the vagina) to block the pain. In some cases, the medicine is an epidural block. Also keep in mind that before forceps can be used, your baby needs to be far enough down the birth canal. The baby's head and face must also be in the right position. The doctor will check carefully to make sure it is safe to use forceps.
10 Vacuum Extraction
A lot of pregnant women find that even though their cervix is fully dilated, they are unable to push the baby out. In such cases, a vacuum extractor is used. A vacuum extractor is a tool that uses a negative pressure on the head of a child to facilitate its extraction. The head rotation doesn't play a significant role.
It consists of a suction bell, vacuum bottle, and manual or electric pump. The bell is placed on the head of a child, taking care not to catch the vaginal wall or the edge of the cervix. Air suction creates a negative pressure that will allow extraction.
Other reasons that an extraction may become necessary, include –
- The mother is too tired to push her baby out of her vagina.
- Even though many hours into the delivery, the baby is not crowning or moving down/outwards
- Medical complications
- The baby shows signs of distress
As is in the case of a forceps delivery, medication is given to the mother to numb her pain.
9 Physical Activities
Now this one’s no surprise. There are particular physical activities which can speed up one’s labor. These activities result in increasing the pressure on the uterus and also help with positioning the baby. This method is among the safest for inducing a non-traditional labor.
Physical activities are best for women who are well past their 37th week and are hoping for a quick delivery. So which activities are safe for heavily pregnant women? Here they are –
- Deep squats: This engages the baby deeper into the pelvis, while also helping to spread it for prepare the body for delivery.
- Sex: Semen softens the cervix, while orgasms release Oxytocin and stimulate uterine contractions
- Walks: Morning walks are the best!
- Pilates ball workouts
- Other exercises: These include forward leaning, pelvic rocks, kegal exercises, Yoga, the Butterfly exercise, climbing stairs and lunges
8 The Membrane Sweep
This procedure consists of inserting a finger (either the doctor’s or the midwife’s) into the cervix. The finger is then gently moved around to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac surrounding the baby from your cervix. This is done to release prostaglandins (a hormone) which induces labor. After it's done, the childbirth should start within two days.
This method is also referred to as Stretch and Sweep, because in some cases, where sweeping cannot happen due to various reasons, then the finger is used to massage the cervix.
This method too helps open up the cervix, and once this happens, in the future visits a proper finger sweep can be made possible. Some women find this procedure a little painful, in which case breathing techniques help to relax. A first time mother is asked to undergo a sweep when 40 weeks pregnant.
There are minimal chances of infection in this procedure. However, it should be avoided in case of broken water due to increased chances of infection.
7 Artificially Rupturing The Membranes
AROM, or Artificial Rupture of Membranes, is also called amniotomy. It is used in cases where a membrane sweep fails to work. Other reasons for opting for an AROM include –
- Inducing stalled labor
- Assist a Vacuum assisted delivery or Forceps Delivery
- To know whether the baby has passed its first bowel movement (thus indication distress)
- To internally monitor the baby
Most women have reported to not feeling anything while undergoing AROM, even when their membranes are ruptured when undergoing labor. In this procedure, the doctor makes use of a device (that looks like a crochet needle) called amniohook, inserts it in the vagina and makes a hole in the amniotic sac.
Sometimes, the water breaks during the process and contractions occur soon after. In some cases, AROM is combined with hormonal therapy to make it a more effective procedure.
If performed well, the labor should start within 24 hours.
6 Prostaglandin Gel
Prostaglandins are derivatives of arachidonic acid, and they help one’s body for labor. A synthetic version is used commercially in hospitals, and gel made from them is applied to the backside of the pregnant woman’s vagina to soften the cervix. Doses can be 1, 2 or 3 each day, given at intervals of every 6 hours.
After the gel has been applied, women are advised to lie down for at least half an hour for it to be able to work on their cervix. Of course, since medical care is required, women are expected to remain in the hospital thereafter.
For those women who suffer from heart conditions, this method is an ideal way of inducing labor. However, this method is not without its side effects, which include postpartum bleeding, fever, diarrhea, and even increased chances of having a C-section. The pros and cons need to be weighed and a balanced decision should be made accordingly.
5 Using Pitocin
This is a drug that a lot of doctors and nurses opt for when the labor gets stalled, or the water breaks but contractions do not occur. Pitocin is the synthetic version of Oxytocin (the hormone a woman’s body produces to contract her uterus for the delivery of the baby). Picotin is liquid in form 9like Oxytocin) and is diluted by adding a standard saline solution to it.
It is then placed in an IV bag, the end of which (a drip) is inserted into the hands of the pregnant woman. Its regulation is done via a pump and doses can be increased or decreased according to the condition of the woman’s uterus.
A certain amount of the drug is received by the body every hour, and is ordinarily slowly increased in dosage till contractions (or labor) occur. Needless to say, since every woman’s pregnancy is different, the dosage of Picotin delivered will be different as well.
4 Using TENS
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For the uninitiated, TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It is a device that provides electrical nerve stimulation in a harmless way to alleviate the contraction pains. It is completely drug-free kind method of pain relief which is often used by women in early labor.
It works like this - surface electrodes are placed on the lower back and turned on a particular frequency and voltage. The electricity blocks pain messages from the uterus on the way to the brain. An expectant mother controls the intensity of the energy, and the sensation of tingling is very pleasant. Keep in mind that a little pain is accompanied with the procedure.
TENS allows you a lot of benefits and freedom, including –
- The freedom to walk freely around your home doing your regular chores
- No lasting side-effects
- 100% safe for the baby
- No interference with labor
- Non-invasive and portable
- No medication or anesthesia required to use/accompany with it.
3 Using Stimulation
It truly is a surprisingly efficient option to start labor since it stimulates the body to generate Oxytocin, which, as already stated, initiates contractions. Sometimes the contractions might be long and intense. That's why it's important not to exaggerate with this technique.
Hyperstimulation followed by intense contractions can slow down the heart beats of the baby. Therefore, it's crucial to know when to stop the stimulation.
Getting back to the point – nipple stimulation works perfectly when the woman in question has not experienced contractions or labor even after the 40th week. Even though the scientific evidence for the efficacy of this method is divided at best, there’s no harm in trying it.
All one has to do is to simply rub and roll their nipples, which in turn releases Oxytocin. Stimulating breasts by rubbing them has also proven to be beneficial in certain cases.
2 Acupuncture (Yes, Really)
It's been used for centuries as an efficient way to stimulate childbirth and prevent the contraction pains. Today, Acupuncture is considered an alternative method to Western science and medicine to achieve the same results.
However, since now two pregnancies are ever the same (even from a scientific point of view) giving specific results becomes difficult. More so since there’s no way to measure its efficacy, outcomes can be difficult to guarantee.
For those still interested, they should know that the treatments should start between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. The needles stimulate the body in a way to produce the endorphin which is incredibly useful in reducing the pain. The process is painless, and it consists of slight stings of thin needles at specific body parts.
Also, do speak to the doctor and ensure that these acupuncture sessions aren’t interfering with one’s health/medical issues.
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This technique is used to provide relief to pregnant women, as well as to induce labor or even contractions. This methodology or practice makes use of 12 meridians or invisible which run along each side of the body, with each pair corresponding to particular organs.
Acupuncturists make use of alternating pressure with a fist or palm root to the lower back of a pregnant woman to ease her pain. However, if the pain is elsewhere, the woman is free to share the precise location with her acupuncturist.
However, this is one technique that needs to be practiced before it can be used on a pregnant woman. For those who have been getting regular sessions, the best time to start is from the 37th week onward. Keep in mind that the pressure on the skin should be a tolerable pain; if it feels uncomfortable, immediately make that known.
Needless to say, this therapy should in no way come in between one’s medical routine and medication intake.