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The labor induction rate is at an all-time high in the United States. It is common for women nearing the third trimester to feel pressure for their baby to come out before his/her “due date”. Although induction is only recommended for medical necessity (when the benefits of a quick birth outweigh the risks for continuing pregnancy), elective induction has become the norm in our country.
In addition, many women who begin labor on their own feel pressured to deliver the baby within a certain amount of time. When progress is not moving along as quickly as the hospital allows or is comfortable with, inducing labor with various synthetic methods, like Pitocin, is often discussed.
There are natural ways to speed up a stalled labor that are proven to be more effective and also a healthier option for both mom and baby. For women who experience prodromal labor or frequent stalls, there are various methods to try and move labor along.
It is proven that inducing labor can increase the numbers of complications in the labor and with the baby. I always encourage my healthy, low-risk clients to wait until the baby is ready to come on their own. If the momma is feeling pressured by her medical provider or she is beyond 41 weeks gestation, she may want to consider natural methods of induction to avoid more risky interventions. I recommend safe, natural methods to get labor going over synthetic for many reasons. Here are just a few:
- With natural methods of induction, labor will not start if it is not supposed to – these methods only work when the baby is supposed to come
- It will not cause further complications – there is no cascade of bad side-effects
- It will produce the proper hormones that your body needs to effectively move labor along in a natural manner
These are my favorite natural ways speed up a stalled labor:
Help the baby assume proper position (optimum fetal positioning)
One cause of postponed or stalled labor is misalignment of the baby. If the mother is full term in her pregnancy, she can help natural labor progress through various activities which attend to the round ligaments, muscles and fascia surrounding the pelvis. Spinning Babies suggests a series of activities including sifting with a rebozo, forward-leaning inversions, pelvic floor release or sidelying release, and/or an abdominal lift.
Depending on how the baby is positioned, certain exercises can open the pelvic floor giving the baby more room to get into proper position. Other activities that can align the body and bring it into balance are prenatal chiropractics, specifically the Webster Technique, and acupuncture,
If the baby is occiput posterior, the head may be deflexed (extended, chin up) and not in position to fit into the pelvis. Due to the fact that the baby’s head is not engaged, dilation will not occur and labor will not progress properly.
If the baby is breech, labor can pause or stop while the baby is trying to manage his waist into the pelvis. Labor may stop at any point if the uterus gets fatigued while the baby is trying to travel further down the pelvis. According to Spinning Babies online resource, pelvic tilts, brisk walks and the motion of hula hooping while sitting on a birth ball may all help to tuck the baby’s chin thus engaging the head into the pelvis. In addition, rest for her body and her lower uterine segment may be just what this mother needs to encourage true labor.
Image by eyeliam
Get your mind in the right place – peace of mind
Psychological barriers quite often play a role in stalled labor. If a woman has any barriers or fears subconsciously, they can hold her back from letting her body go into labor. Exploring any possibilities and talking out feelings and thoughts or even crying can be a great help if this is the case. If she is worried, stressed or fearful, labor cannot functionally take place.
A woman must feel safe and guarded in order for labor to occur. Finding exercises and habits that support the mother’s well-being are her best bet in progressive labor. Examples include drinking hot tea, lighting candles and/or listening to calming music.
Make yourself at home
Interruptions are a common cause of a stalled labor. For example, arriving to the hospital or having new people (partner, doula, nurse, etc.) arrive onto the scene of a birth. Any interruption of environment, subtle or obvious, can change the mood of the birth for the mother.
The hormone oxytocin encourages labor and contractions, and even something like a change of the scene can trigger this hormone to cease. If a woman does arrive at the hospital and labor stops for a long period of time, she may be induced using pitocin, cytotec, cervadil or another labor-inducing drug to get things moving along. If you’re giving birth in a hospital or birth center, tour the location ahead of time and think of some things you can bring/do that will make it more comfy when you’re in labor.
If a full-term mother is experiencing stalled labor and feels rested and ready for progression, there are a number of things she can do to enhance labor. Coffee is a uterine stimulant, as well as red raspberry leaf tea (buy it here). Other recommendations include getting an enema to stimulate the bowels and the uterus. Oxytocin, the labor/love hormone, can be stimulated by kissing, cuddling, nipple stimulation, sex, and even just relaxation.
Having sex can bring on labor for a couple of reasons: the prostaglandins found in male semen softens and ripens the cervix and orgasm in sex can trigger uterine contractions. It is commonly said “what got the baby in, gets the baby out,” referring to making love and the hormones triggered through that intimate process. In addition, uterine contractions increasing in strength, frequency and duration require a lot of fuel. It is wise for the mother not to “run out of fuel” by staying hydrated and well fed, even if it’s just little nibbles of food and sips of fluid here and there.