Childbirth is one of the most memorable events in the life of a woman. Though characterised by pain, it brings along with it, joys that know no bounds.
The entire period of pregnancy can be very delicate for some women and progress smoothly for others. It is the same with labour.
Most women panic at the thought of labour and this fear prevents them from cherishing the experience. Bearing and bringing forth a child is a unique blessing bestowed upon women. However, each experience is different.
The term ‘labour’ is the process of delivering the baby, placenta and the umbilical cord from the womb to the outside world. This process could last from a few minutes to a few hours or days (in first-time mothers). Having a fair knowledge about what happens during labour can help a woman face her anxieties with confidence.
As the due date (medically calculated date for delivery) approaches, the mother’s body undergoes many changes. The baby moves downward into the cervix and takes its position for birth. Many women deliver healthy babies 2 weeks before the due date (the ideal is 40 weeks) and there are numerous natural methods to facilitate labour at home. Studies prove that it is safe to try simple natural methods at home to induce labour once the mother is in her 38-40th week but has not yet gone into labour. However one has to:
1. Check With The Doctor
One has to be sure to have a medical examination to see if the baby is fully developed and ready for a healthy birth. This is important especially if the mother has a pre-existing medical condition.
2. Seek Expert Assistance
Be sure that the suggested techniques are by a medical expert or someone who is experienced in assisting during childbirth.
3. Adequate Information
It is essential to be well informed about the pros and cons of any method one is planning to follow.
4. Be Prepared
Lastly keep all essentials packed to leave for the hospital at short notice.
Once the above 4 steps have been ticked off, one can follow the steps below to induce labour naturally :
Simple exercises like squatting, sweeping or mopping the floor, or long walks ensure smooth labour.
It is one of the most effective ways to induce labour. Frequent walking helps the baby’s head easily pass through the cervix. Also when one continues to walk after the onset of early contractions, it shortens the time in between contractions and facilitates a shorter labour. The mother must be comfortable enough to walk, though.
3. Use Of Stairs
Try using the stairs instead of the lift. Climbing the stairs daily is an effective exercise suggested by doctors. It helps position the baby and adds pressure to the cervix which can cause water breakage.
An induction massage by an experienced masseuse by working the acupressure points could help trigger labour. Another plus point of a message is that it keeps the mother relaxed and stress-free.
5. Eating Dates
Studies prove that consuming dates regularly for four weeks prior to the due date reduces the need to induce labour. It is stated that eating at least 6 dates per day eases the dilation and aids in spontaneous labour.
Sex during the last weeks is safe, as it releases oxytocin and stimulates the uterus into contractions. Sex has to be avoided if one has a medical history or if the amniotic sac is broken, as it increases chances of an infection.
7. Nipple Stimulation
It produces oxytocin and strongly induces contraction of the uterus. It functions in the same way as when one is feeding a baby, aiding in the shrinking of the uterine wall.
8. Acupuncture And Acupressure
Since ancient times, acupuncture has been used to induce labour in women who are past their due dates. Thin needles are inserted into specific points of the body that trigger the activity of the uterus.
Acupressure has the same effect as acupuncture. It is best to seek the help of an expert and give a 24-hour gap before repeating the process, as it takes at least 12 hours to work.
Note: This process is proven to have a greater probability of inducing labour. Wait till the full term of 40 weeks is complete or a green signal from the doctor.
9. Inducing Labour In The Hospital
If the due date has passed by, the doctor or medical team will induce labour in the hospital. In addition to stimulating techniques there are certain other visible signs that one can look out for like:
*A feeling of lightness or ease of breath is a sign that the baby has descended into the birth canal.
*A brownish discharge or a stringy mucus from the vagina could mean that the cervix is opening up.
*Dripping water from the vagina indicates that the amniotic sac has broken.
*Abdominal pain could suggest the start of early contractions.
It is of utmost priority to wait until the full term of 40 weeks and consult a doctor before trying out any natural method of induction. And remember, the baby will come out only when the time is correct!