Naturally Induce Labor: The Natural Induction Method That Works!
Inducing Labor: What Worked For Me
At the end of pregnancy and I mean around 32 weeks, I begin searching-madly googling, searching forums, Facebook groups, etc.-ways to induce labor. I am DONE. The last few weeks of pregnancy are torture for me. Sciatic pain, discomfort, not being able to breathe, exhaustion…and generally just not being able to be ME all drive me to a willingness to do almost anything. This time, I believe I might have been successful at inducing labor. What worked for me?
Natural Induction Method 1: Electro-stimulation of Nipples
I began this around 36 weeks. As I mentioned, I have terrible sciatic pain during pregnancy. (I don’t know if baby gets on my last nerve or what! Har har!) Anyway, so I have to wear a TENS unit on my back and butt to be able to sleep. So imagine my surprise and delight when coming across this clinical study: breast electrostimulation for the induction of labor.
Here are some highlights from this study:
“We studied breast electrostimulation as a controllable method of initiating labor in 21 women. This technique successfully induced labor in 15 women…”
“All of the successfully induced women delivered vaginally.”
The Problem with Nipple Stimulation to Induce Labor
Okay so the problem with nipple stimulation isn’t it’s proven success rate in studies. Actually it is one of the ONLY successfully proven, science-backed natural induction methods. The problem is that the only way for breast stimulation to work it has to be done for 3 hours/day or more. Now if you are doing that manually…that is just weird. I’m not rubbing my nipples for 3 hours a day. Might make for an awkward checkout at the grocery store, ya know? Okay, so the other option is an electric breast pump. I tried this during my second pregnancy. Some people might be able to handle this for multiple hours a day. I could not. Excruciating. You might go into labor, but you might also have your nipples fall OFF. So the last option is what I chose. Like I said I already needed the TENS unit for back/sciatic pain. I also ended up using it for painful labor contractions. Turns out you can also use it for nipple stimulation. So, basically you stick one electrode pad on the right and left (or top and bottom) of your nipple.
A risk to note is that it might actually make you go into labor early. Many women breastfeed babies all the way through pregnancy (including the third trimester); so the risk isn’t too high. But, you don’t want to start this any earlier than 37 weeks if you are having a complicated, high-risk pregnancy or have been showing signs of premature-labor. *I started this at 36.5 weeks because I read in a couple of studies that it takes at least 72 hours to begin working/to start labor. Also, I have always gone to full term and had uncomplicated pregnancies.
I actually ran into a strange problem that I’m pretty certain won’t happen to most people. I got mastitis during these last days of my pregnancy. Now mastitis usually only occurs while breastfeeding – but I guess my body *thought* I was breastfeeding. The bad thing about getting mastitis while pregnant is that there isn’t a baby to flush out the infection by breastfeeding which is how most mastitis infections are cleared up. I am a high risk for mastitis. I got it 4 times with my second baby. To prevent mastitis, you can take soy lecithin or you can treat it as soon as you feel the symptoms like breast soreness, heat in breast by calling your doc and getting prescribed antibiotics.
So, here is the specific method: Attach the tens unit like below. Raise the level (ghz) until you can feel a light buzzing in your nipples. I also chose the setting that pulses. I felt like the intensity fluctuations mimicked breastfeeding most. I wore these pads underneath my clothes and slipped the controller in my jeans pocket so that the cords were pretty much out of sight. I ran the unit about 3-4 times a day for about an hour each time. The controller will automatically turn off the current after an hour. I did this during the day and at night.
Here is the TENS unit that I used. (Buying through this link supports all the hard work I do for this site.)
Inducing a VBAC labor…Attempting a VBAC?
Here’s a study on women with prior c-section deliveries who did nipple stimulation and 84% of them were able to have a successful vaginal birth.
Natural Induction Method 2: Membrane Sweep or Stripping Membranes (twice)
You probably already know about this. It’s where the doctor uses a glove to “to gently separate the amniotic sac from the wall of the uterus”. Ouch. Firstly this did cause some cramping and contractions both times. It’s supposed to work within 48 hours. The second time I had them done, I went into labor that night.
Also, I would not recommend looking on forums and boards for whether this is successful. The only women that get on there and comment are the ones that are still pregnant. Because the ones that it was successful are too busy HAVING A BABY to go and post that it was a success. Some go back and post that it was successful, but I didn’t. It wasn’t really at the top of my list of priorities. So yeah… I just wanted to put that out there on the interwebs so that other desperate google/babycenter searching pregnant moms can avoid that discouragement.
This study says that membrane sweeps work to induce labor. This study says that membrane sweeps do not pose risks. There is another study that I can’t seem to locate again that said that membrane sweeps were most successful when combined with other induction methods.
Are There Risks to Having Membranes Stripped?
- The cramping that may occur in the 24 hours after your membranes are stripped can make it hard to rest or sleep; this means that you might lose some sleep before actually going into labor.
- Some people worry that membrane stripping may cause the bag of water to break or cause mothers or babies to become sick. Studies have found that membrane stripping does not make them more likely Source
Natural Induction Method 3: Prayer
Yes prayer. I was desperately searching for all these methods and ways to induce and God tapped me on the shoulder…like “hey, have you thought about praying about it?” DOH! So I began praying this prayer, and also texted my “prayer group” asking for them to pray for a Holy Spirit-induction. That night I went into labor.
Natural Induction Method 4: Naps
Okay I thought this was strange. My doctor who has been in practice a loooong time gave me this tip after my membrane sweep and in response to my question as to whether walking might help the “sweep” work. He told me to go home and take a nap or two or three. He gave a couple of reasons for this.
When you put more stress on your body and are stressed emotionally to boot, this raises cortisol. This kills the oxytocin boost that you need to start labor. It’s all about hormones! But when you relax, nap…meditate then oxytocin thrives and labor can start naturally.
Along those same lines, napping prepares your body for labor. Since labor is long and hard work, it’s good to let your body rest. It makes sense, right? How many women walk their butts off then end up going into labor already tired and worn out?
I took two or three naps the day I went into labor.
Well I think those cover it…
Once contractions started, I did bounce on a ball to try to keep it going. I did that the rest of the evening, and I bounced pretty hard at one point.
So if you’re like me and desperate for your pregnancy to be OVER, you can give these a try! Let me know if it works for you.