Induce Labor - Part IV

Are there any techniques I can try at home to get my labor going?

No do-it-yourself methods have been proven consistently to be both safe and effective. Here's the scoop on some of the techniques you may have heard about:

• Sexual intercourse: Semen contains some prostaglandins and having an orgasm may stimulate some contractions. A few studies have shown that having sex at term may decrease the need for labor induction, but others have found no effect on promoting labor.

• Nipple stimulation: Stimulating your nipples releases oxytocin and may help start labor. While it's a time-honored approach, more research is needed to determine how effective it is. And because there's a possibility of overstimulating your uterus (and stressing your baby), it's not something you'd want to try without being monitored. Sometimes – more often when the end of labor is in sight – a practitioner will suggest nipple stimulation to provide a little extra help with contractions.

• Castor oil: Castor oil is a strong laxative. Although stimulating your bowels may cause some contractions, there's no definitive proof that it helps induce labor – and you're likely to find the effect on your gut very unpleasant.

• Herbal remedies. A variety of herbs are touted as useful for labor induction, but there isn't enough evidence to prove that any of them are both safe and effective. Some are risky because they can overstimulate your uterus and may be unsafe for your baby for other reasons as well.

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