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Herbs and activities to encourage labor

post #1 of 118
Thread Starter 

Spurred by a recent discussion in the Labor Quiz thread, I thought it would be helpful to start listing off different herbs, supplements, activities, etc. that we have used or read about for encouraging labor.  What did you do and why?  Do you think it had any effect?

 

Disclaimer: I know that labor will happen when it happens and most things have no effect unless the body is ready anyway, but I personally feel like some of the things that I did, did help labor come sooner than it might have.  And many of the things recommended can help a stalled labor pick back up again.


Edited by Jaimee - 10/20/11 at 11:32am
post #2 of 118
Thread Starter 

So at the FSBC where I had my first, they handed us a list of supplements/herbs to start taking at 37 weeks.  I figured if my mw was recommending them, I'd just take a few.  So I took EPO daily for week and at 38 weeks started taking black cohosh daily.  My cervix was "mushy" at 37 weeks already, but a week later I was also dilated to 2cm.  When I took the black cohosh (I used 4 drops in some orange juice) I could feel contractions within an hour, which I had not been previously having, so I know it did affect my uterus.  I also was doing the HypBirth home study course religiously and part of that program was to visualize the day and time we would go into labor.  After several sessions, my mind had settled on a date and time.  After weeks of doing the program it was so engrained in my mind that I really believed it might happen.  When I was 38 weeks I recall a conversation with my MIL that went something like this: MIL- want to see a movie this weekend?  Me- no I'll be having a baby.  MIL- (laughing) oh, that's right!  Hahaha!    Well, I had a baby 2 days before the weekend.  Yep, she came 2 days before the day I had visualized and labor started right on time, ending a little later than I had visualized, but pretty dang close.  My MIL was shocked, btw!  lol.gif

 

With my second, I thought that maybe I wouldn't do anything and just let things proceed totally naturally.  Well, by the time I hit the end of 38 weeks I was pretty desperate and by 39w2d I had my mw check me.  I was 5cm already so she swept my membranes while she was up there and left me with a bottle of labor tincture, which was a mix of black and blue cohosh.  The next two days I took the tincture every 4 hours, walked a lot, had lots of orgasms (and yes, ingested lots of prostaglandins!  wink1.gif), and even tried pumping a bit.  Contractions would come on and then peter out.  I lost massive amounts of mucus plug as well.  But true labor didn't start until 39w4d in the evening.  I had given up on the labor tincture at that point so it's  hard to say if it got things revved up and dilated me a bit more or if it really had no affect and I just needed to wait another 2 days.  But it seems to me like when I start taking the cohoshes, I go into labor within the week.  Coincidence?  Who knows!  I also did the HypBirth course with this pregnancy, but I only could do it when I had childcare, 3 times a week or so.  I didn't feel the same I did when I was doing the course the first time.  I felt much less focused, less relaxed and the visualization really didn't work.  He didn't arrive until 5 days after I had visualized and the timing was off all together.  For the hypnosis stuff to work, I really feel like you have to 100% commit to practicing and I just couldn't with my dd around.

 

With this one, I'm undecided.  Part of me just wants to stay relaxed and let things proceed as they will.  But I know myself and I know that as I near my due date that I'll get crazy.  I have a hang up about wanting the baby to be born in November, which means it will probably come in December.  Sigh...   I'm not doing the HypBirth program at all this time.  I do have a date in mind, but I have not been really focusing or visualizing with it.  I don't think I'll do the forced walking and pumping that I did last time b/c that was annoying and didn't seem to help any.    Anyway, I bet I'll want some cohosh by 38 weeks.  pinktongue.gif

 

So here is my list:

 

  • Oral sex (supposedly prostaglandins are absorbed 10x better in the gut than the vaginal mucosa)
  • Orgasm (via intercourse or otherwise)
  • Black cohosh
  • Labor tincture (mix of black and blue cohosh*)
  • EPO
  • Pumping
  • Walking, climbing stairs
  • Bumpy car ride
  • Scrubbing/cleaning while on all fours
  • Bouncing on birth ball
  • Castor oil rubbed on belly with warm towel over it
  • Foot massage, body massage
  • Castor oil ingested (only as a last resort)
  • Acupuncture
  • Visualization, relaxation
  • Homeopathic Caulophyllum 200x
  • Beer and a benadryl at night if contractions have been stopping and starting

 

*Blue cohosh has been anecdotally linked to (not proven to cause) respiratory issues in a minute number of cases.  No conclusive studies have been done.

 

post #3 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaimee View Post

 

So here is my list:

 

  • Oral sex (supposedly prostaglandins are absorbed 10x better in the gut than the vaginal mucosa)
  • Orgasm (via intercourse or otherwise)
  • Black cohosh
  • Labor tincture (mix of black and blue cohosh*)
  • EPO
  • Pumping
  • Walking, climbing stairs
  • Bumpy car ride
  • Scrubbing/cleaning while on all fours
  • Bouncing on birth ball
  • Castor oil rubbed on belly with warm towel over it
  • Foot massage, body massage
  • Castor oil ingested (only as a last resort)
  • Acupuncture
  • Visualization, relaxation
  • Homeopathic Caulophyllum 200x
  • Beer and a benadryl at night if contractions have been stopping and starting

 


I bolded what I tried with dd2. I didn't try anything with dd1. I was sure I would be late as a first timer, so I was actually surprised when I went into labor the day before she was due. None of the things I tried sent me into labor with dd2. My midwife told me to drink some balsamic vinegar when I started having my nightly pre-labor contractions. I did, and the contractions turned into real labor that night. But, that could be completely a coincidence. I'm not 100% convinced that anything can actually bring on labor. It would probably take me reading a convincing, reputable study... maybe I should look for some! :) But of course my doubt won't stop me from trying this time.

 

I never tried herbs/ tinctures, so I will probably do that this time. I'll be 37 weeks tomorrow. Maybe I'll think about it when I hit 38. 

 

post #4 of 118

Jaimee - thanks so much for starting this thread! I'm excited to hear about everyone's experiences.

post #5 of 118

I did EPO orally and vaginally from 37 weeks. Wear a pantyliner, or old panties if you are going to insert the EPO vaginally though.

 

I was drinking lots and lots of my Belly Tea, which was mostly just RRL and Nettle, might of had Black Cohosh in it. I had purchased a LabourReady tea which had both Black and Blue Cohoshes in it, but after reading a bit about the anecdotal effects of Blue Cohosh, decided to not take it, since some of the anecdotal symptoms were heart related in both mom and baby, and I have a mild heart condition. 

 

I was doing a million squats a day, and bouncing on the birth ball. This was the only time I could feel the baby's head on my cervix, since DD wasn't engaged at all before labour, so I did it a lot. 

 

Daily orgasms. Sometimes multiple times a day. 

 

Walking at least 45 minutes a day. 

 

And finally, intercourse, which I am convinced kick started my labour with DD, but I think mostly because somehow the activity broke the bag of waters and that triggered labour. I was 40w4d. 

 

I also had my membranes stripped a couple of times, weeks 39 and 40.

 

 

This time I am going to do all those things, plus have DD nurse as much as she wants, plus I am going to try ingesting my prostaglandins. Sheepish.gif I don't think I'll do any additional herbs/supplements, though perhaps if this baby goes beyond 40w4d, I might decide to expand my repertoire a bit. 

 

ETA: Oh, and I'm 37 weeks now, and am doing some of these things already, but am waiting on the EPO and my oral prostaglandins until we are a little more unpacked and ready for baby around here. I am not in quite the same hurry this time around. 

 

post #6 of 118

With DD, I went into labor after scrubbing floors on my hands and knees and then having sex. But then again, I was 5 days past my EDD, so who knows?

 

With DS, I started EPO orally and vaginally at 36 weeks, and was drinking RRL tea like crazy. Baby came 4 days past my due date.

 

This time, I will probably use the EPO vaginally just because the oil can help soften tissue and prevent/reduce tearing. I don't exactly feel like having sex, but starting at 36 weeks, I may force that a little more often, too. I don't really expect to go before my due date, no matter what I do, so I figure there's no sense stressing myself and trying all these things that don't help. If I have a baby before December hits, I'll be happy!

post #7 of 118

This might sound silly, and the answer might be obvious (but I don't see it) but what is EPO?

post #8 of 118

With DS1 I was overdue and desperate so we were trying everything.  I ate all the foods recommended (eggplant, spicy, etc.)  I tried nipple stimulation (manually and by being in the bath and letting my nipples be at water level) but I didn't try pumping.  I was drinking red raspberry leaf tea like crazy, which someone had told me would bring on ctx.  I also had DH do some acupressure points and foot massage.  We tried sex/ orgasms, walking, going up and down stairs, relaxing baths, none of it worked.  It would bring on BH ctx but nothing worthwhile.  Mind you I was 9 days "late" so I am pretty sure I was ready for labor.  I had been losing mucus plug and have BH ctx and even some prodromal labor.  

That's interesting that you mentioned balsamic vinegar, Amanda, because this salad dressing has BV in it and has been sworn by lots of women to have started their labor.  Maybe I'll order some :-)  http://www.maternitysalad.com/

 

I think I'll have my MW check me around 38 weeks and see if anything is happening.  If I'm not effaced or dilated at all I might try some herbs to get the cervix ready... I honestly feel pretty patient at this point (35.5 weeks) so I don't know how eager I'll be to get things going.  Depends on the state of my to-do list :-)  I will get desperate closer to T-giving though.  My on-call babysitters for DS1 are leaving for the holiday weekend!  Eeek!  T-giving is one week after my EDD though.  So we'll see.  
 

 

post #9 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbk21 View Post

With DS1 I was overdue and desperate so we were trying everything.  I ate all the foods recommended (eggplant, spicy, etc.)  I tried nipple stimulation (manually and by being in the bath and letting my nipples be at water level) but I didn't try pumping.  I was drinking red raspberry leaf tea like crazy, which someone had told me would bring on ctx.  I also had DH do some acupressure points and foot massage.  We tried sex/ orgasms, walking, going up and down stairs, relaxing baths, none of it worked.  It would bring on BH ctx but nothing worthwhile.  Mind you I was 9 days "late" so I am pretty sure I was ready for labor.  I had been losing mucus plug and have BH ctx and even some prodromal labor.  That's interesting that you mentioned balsamic vinegar, Amanda, because this salad dressing has BV in it and has been sworn by lots of women to have started their labor.  Maybe I'll order some :-)  http://www.maternitysalad.com/

 

I think I'll have my MW check me around 38 weeks and see if anything is happening.  If I'm not effaced or dilated at all I might try some herbs to get the cervix ready... I honestly feel pretty patient at this point (35.5 weeks) so I don't know how eager I'll be to get things going.  Depends on the state of my to-do list :-)  I will get desperate closer to T-giving though.  My on-call babysitters for DS1 are leaving for the holiday weekend!  Eeek!  T-giving is one week after my EDD though.  So we'll see.   

 



That is interesting! I see they put basil in the salad dressing. Basil is good. In fact, I think it's the basil in the eggplant parm. that helps start labor, not anything in the eggplant itself. 

post #10 of 118

Good point, I do think it is the basil in the eggplant parm.  I don't know, I just know I ate a lot of eggplant parm.  lol!

post #11 of 118

Quote:

Originally Posted by IwannaBanRN View Post

This might sound silly, and the answer might be obvious (but I don't see it) but what is EPO?



Evening primrose oil

post #12 of 118

ahh, the topic of this thread is the bane of my existence at the end of pregnancy--LOL! 

 

in past pregnancies, I've tried soooo many things.  Last time i started a protocol of things at 35 wks (EPO, herbal labor induction pills, and acupressure--in addition to the walking and birth-ball sitting that i was already doing), at the encouragement of my midwives, and still went to 41+4.

 

I took castor oil twice with both of my last pregnancies too.

 

This time, I am really, really thinking that aside from walking and birth-ball sitting (which i do all the time anyway cause my computer chair is a birth ball), that I don't wanna do anything "extra".  It feels like I'm putting my faith in the external stuff instead of in my body.  

 

Of course, if I'm still pregnant in three weeks or more, I may very well be reaching for that castor oil again--LOL!!  loveeyes.gif

post #13 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krystal323 View Post

ahh, the topic of this thread is the bane of my existence at the end of pregnancy--LOL! 

 

in past pregnancies, I've tried soooo many things.  Last time i started a protocol of things at 35 wks (EPO, herbal labor induction pills, and acupressure--in addition to the walking and birth-ball sitting that i was already doing), at the encouragement of my midwives, and still went to 41+4.

 

I took castor oil twice with both of my last pregnancies too.

 

This time, I am really, really thinking that aside from walking and birth-ball sitting (which i do all the time anyway cause my computer chair is a birth ball), that I don't wanna do anything "extra".  It feels like I'm putting my faith in the external stuff instead of in my body.  

 

Of course, if I'm still pregnant in three weeks or more, I may very well be reaching for that castor oil again--LOL!!  loveeyes.gif

 

How did you respond to the castor oil?  Cause MAN do I hear some horror stories about it!
 

 

post #14 of 118

ehh, the first two times (my 43 week pregnancy--and yes, i tried twice!), it cleaned out my guts in a rather miserable/forceful way, brought lots of contrax, but no baby.  The second time (again, tried it twice!) i took 4 full oz and it did nothing but completely clean out my bowels...then several days or a week later, I took one oz, thought it did nothing at all--but i had a baby the next morning.  winky.gif

post #15 of 118

Personally, I would not recommend the castor oil experience. But I do know people who would! The only nice thing was that once my  baby actually was on his  way I was pretty well cleaned out. It was pretty awful though. I couldn't drink o.j. for years. I feel like I've really learned from my last three pregnancies that nothing will work until that baby's coming anyway... at least for me. So I think I'll save my energy. I know I'm only 35 weeks but I feel pretty good about waiting it out this time. Although, I will be a little bummed if they baby doesn't come by/sometime during the Thanksgiving holiday (due the 20th) because that next week is a beast for my husband at school. So you may see me eating my words.

post #16 of 118

Out of curiosity, how quickly does castor oil affect a person? Are you running to the bathroom within mere minutes, or does it take a few hours or longer to affect your bowels?

post #17 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by willsmomm View Post

Personally, I would not recommend the castor oil experience. But I do know people who would! The only nice thing was that once my  baby actually was on his  way I was pretty well cleaned out. It was pretty awful though. I couldn't drink o.j. for years. I feel like I've really learned from my last three pregnancies that nothing will work until that baby's coming anyway... at least for me. So I think I'll save my energy. I know I'm only 35 weeks but I feel pretty good about waiting it out this time. Although, I will be a little bummed if they baby doesn't come by/sometime during the Thanksgiving holiday (due the 20th) because that next week is a beast for my husband at school. So you may see me eating my words.



I'm feeling this way too- he can come anytime he wants EXCEPT if it's after t-giving because I realllllyyyyy want to be able to eat some carbs on thanksgiving :-)  (I have GD).  

 

But in general I just have a peace about when he wants to come and whatever day that might be.  I was all stressed out about it with DS1, and I refuse to get that way this time.  I also think any extra days in the womb are so important- I think *they* say that one day of development in the womb is like 3 days outside.  Sounds good to me  thumb.gif

post #18 of 118

I have to say, I have spent this whole pregnancy vomiting over nothing- I can imagine getting...prostagladins...in my mouth.  Not happening here.

 

With my last I tried it ALL. 

 

EPO-  and my cervix didn't soften until hours after they started pitocin.

 

Cohosh-  blue and black, which I probably should not have tried because I was completely winging it based on what I read on the internet, but I was desperately trying to avoid a hospital induction.  I had hard contractions for hours and hours and made NO progress at all.

 

Sex-  tons of it.  The only effect it had was making my DH a very happy man.

 

Castor Oil-  I have never spent so much time in the bathroom in my life.  I was running in there so often I just brought a book in and camped there over night.  This is one my doc recommended too.  It was awful.  I would absolutely never do it again.

 

Walking/climbing/jumping/bouncing- I just hurt myself by the end of every day.

 

I had consistent, hard contractions for weeks.  I never made any progress at all.  In the end, I was induced in the hospital, given an Ambien to help me relax- and I ended up dilating from a 1 to a 10 in less than 20 minutes, IN MY SLEEP, and pushing just once....a nurse caught my baby, the doc never even made it in the room. 

 

So this time, I'm skipping the EPO because my cervix is already soft.  I'm going to start drinking RRL tea as of Saturday to help my uterus prepare.  BUT, I'm doing nothing else.  I just bought a new car and I would be really mad if I gave birth in it and messed up the clean, new interior thumb.gif

post #19 of 118

I have a feeling that no matter what I try to do the baby won't come until he's ready. Though, some of the things I've heard of people doing sound pretty cool.

post #20 of 118

Good link I found-

http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/natinduc.html

 

Last time I had membrane sweeps at 38 and 39 weeks (was already in labor at 39), was taking EPO (orally and vaginally in increasing amounts each week) from 36 weeks, RRL capsules (have been doing those all along this time though), we did nipple stimulation with a hand pump, walked a TON and ate everything possible that was recommended (including a whole pineapple every other day). I went into labor at 39 weeks but had prodromal labor from 37 weeks on.

 

This time...I'll be walking just for stamina, sex as much as I can muster the energy (and I guess lots of oral? Any actual studies on that?), the RRL capsules and nursing my 2.5 year old.

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