Some induction methods are medical, and some are more natural approaches. Regardless of the reasoning behind wanting (or needing) to get labor started, they are simply different ways to encourage babies out.
Both categories have their own risks and benefits.
Our suggestion is to never try the natural techniques without discussing your plans with your care provider.
Medical Induction Methods
Prostaglandin Gel (cervadil or prepadil)- It works by causing softening and dilation of the cervix. Not recommended for those who are attempting vaginal birth after cesarean due to the fact that it may cause hypertonic uterine activity.
Foley Bulb/Balloon (Foley Catheter)- a balloon that is inserted through the cervix and then inflated so it puts pressure on the cervix from the inside. Typically this is removed or comes out on its own around 4 centimeters
Artificial Rupture of Membranes (AROM)- breaking the bag of waters often can release hormones that can jumpstart labor.
Pitocin (Synthetic oxytocin)- given by IV line and requires continuous electronic fetal monitoring.
Cytotec (Misoprostol)- A pill that is inserted vaginally or taken as oral slurry.
If you would like more information about Cytotec the Reproductive Health Library, has a list of the risks and benefits.
Natural Induction Methods
Sex- The best way to get a baby out, is the same way the baby got in! Besides the fact that sex increases oxytocin (orgasm), applies natural prostaglandins (semen) onto the cervix, and offers a nice pelvic floor workout- it’s a fantastic way to enjoy each other’s company as a couple before baby arrives. For those of you who are in same-sex partnerships, or are single- this can work for you as well! Your main focus will be on orgasm. We can all strive to make that happen on our own right?!
Nipple Stimulation- See the previous description.
Chiropractic care- Seek out a Webster certified Chiropractor, and see them regularly throughout pregnancy. Towards the end, some will use a particular protocol to encourage labor to begin on its own.
Acupuncture- Licensed acupuncturists are fantastic at using their tools to encourage the flow of Qi along specific meridians. It often takes about three sessions to see some progress, but helping the flow can truly get things going. I have used Acupuncture myself for both of my births.
Herbal/Homeopathic- Your care provider is the best source of information on this topic. They will have specific types and doses to encourage your body to begin the process
Walking- This helps change the shape of your pelvis allowing baby to move into a position which applies their head to the cervix facilitating beneficial changes.
Eating heavily spiced foods- Not necessarily jalapeno poppers… no, something more herbaceous. Italian yummies. Indian Curries. Lots of herbs, cumin, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, thyme…
Enemas- Water in, water out. The stimulation of the bowels can cause the uterus to join the party and begin contracting.
If you are facing an induction- please know that you have options. You can have a say in how this process unfolds. Learn the risks and benefits of each different method and have a conversation with your care provider. Even if the birth you have worked hard for, planned for, and dreamed about feels like it’s slipping away- you can still have an awesome experience!
If you have any questions about the process, we are happy to chat. You can reach out through the contact page.
This is by no means a complete list. Did I leave off something that worked for you? Please share below!