Natural Interventions Are Still Interventions
Many people believe that because something is natural, it is somehow better or safer than the medical alternative. At the end of pregnancy, a lot of people start turning to Google to ask, ‘how do I get labor started naturally?’ and ‘how can I increase my contractions naturally?’
Dr. Google is well known for convincing you that you have cancer or are dying, but for some reason, people still trust it to give tips for inducing labor naturally. And Dr. Google will give you a myriad of things you can try to do so.
Sometimes women, desperate to meet their sweet new squish, are willing to try anything that has even the slightest chance of getting things going, but even natural techniques should be given careful consideration and are still considered interventions, which should only be tried under the advisement of your care provider.
- Essential oils are becoming more popular in recent years, but with that popularity includes recommendations for unsafe use. Everyone now claims to be an expert in essential oils but the only person who is qualified to make recommendations about how to use them is a certified aromatherapist or naturopathic doctor.
- Herbs like black and blue cohosh should never be used without direct instruction and supervision from your care provider. There is not enough evidence that these methods work. Herbs can also be very dangerous if not used properly.
- Eating spicy foods, eggplant Parmesan, and pineapple have been shown to cause heartburn and diarrhea, but there is no proof they bring on labor. Red raspberry leaf tea is an herb, so, again, needs to be used under the care of a medical provider.
- Evening primrose oil is supposedly used to soften and efface the cervix, but there are no studies that show it is safe or effective. The experiences of those using it are purely anecdotal and not based on research.
- Castor oil is a laxative, so unless you are planning for a baby to come out of your bowels, this one may just have you hovering over the toilet. Even if you do go into labor, you can probably expect to have some major diarrhea along with a baby.
- Sex can trigger contractions and the prostaglandins from semen can help soften the cervix, but there is no evidence showing it helps induce labor. If you are in the mood, go for it, but if you are exhausted and not feeling it, don’t feel like you have to do it in order to get your baby to come, otherwise, it becomes a chore.
- Walking is always a good idea throughout your labor (unless you are on bed rest), so walking at the end of pregnancy is fine as well, but there are no studies proving it starts labor. Walking is still a great activity to partake in if you are up for it but there is no need to exhaust yourself doing it. Try taking a leisurely stroll with your partner instead. Hold hands, reminisce, and talk lovingly about your new baby. This is great for getting the oxytocin flowing.
A natural intervention is still an intervention and, as with other interventions, should be done only under the recommendation of your doctor or midwife and baby may need to be monitored. Remember to use your B.R.A.I.N. when considering the benefits and risks of the intervention.
There is so much guilt on new moms and families for just about everything. It is not your responsibility to start labor and you should not have to feel guilty for not trying all the things to get your baby here. The best thing you can do is wait.