Let’s face it, no one wants to be waddling around for up to an additional two weeks on top of the 40 you’ve already spent growing and carrying a fresh, tiny human! It’s likely that you’ve heard that spicy food and lots of sex are sure-fire ways to get things moving in the labour department, but there are many other, lesser-known ways to prepare your body, too. We caught up with naturopath, Jess Blair, to get her expert opinion on what’s worth it, what’s not, and the reasoning behind some of these myths. And just a friendly disclaimer—make sure you check with your OB or midwife with regards to your individual situation before trying any of these at home!
1. Hot spicy curries
While there is no factual evidence to suggest that spicy curries stimulate labour, Jess says that the old wives’ tale implies that this can help to stimulate the gut and bowel—which coincidentally sits right next to the uterus. The belief is that the potential cramping caused by hot, spicy curries irritates the bowel and in turn gets labour off the mark. Many women swear by this theory—especially when used in tandem with other methods!
While it isn’t an old wives tale, the notion that sex can help to kick off labour is met with mixed reviews. The concept is that the prostaglandins—the hormone-like compound present in semen—helps to soften the cervix; however you’d need a lot (and we mean a lot) to get labour going from one roll in the hay. According to Jess, the other side to the sex-helps-induce-labour coin is that orgasm releases oxytocin—the feel-good hormone that’s essential for labour and birth. Our conclusion? Worth a try, ladies!
3. Raspberry leaf tea
Jess shares that raspberry leaf tea has some proven benefits to women in the third trimester and you can drink up to 3 cups per day. Filled with many nutrients, it’s a cup full of goodness, which also helps to tone the uterus so that it works more efficiently during labour. Bottoms up!
4. Evening primrose oil
Evening primrose oil has many proven health benefits; not least for its hormone-balancing properties. During the last trimester of pregnancy evening primrose can be inserted inside the vagina to soften the cervix, and some women say that doing this shorten the duration of labour, based on the high content of lineonic acid that is found in evening primrose oil—which may trigger a prostaglandin release.
5. Eating dates
Jess says that a study on eating dates whilst pregnant suggests that women that eat up to 6 dates a day in their last month of pregnancy were more dilated when coming to hospital then those who were not. Dates are also a natural laxative which can aid contractions—plus, they’re quite delicious so any excuse, right? Although 6 dates sounds like a lot, incorporating them into smoothies or bliss balls are an easy way to squeeze them into your diet!
You heard it from a professional first—Jess warns that this one is extremely dangerous, and is not recommended for anyone. Castor oil can cause abdominal cramping which can cause the baby to pass meconium, which can be extremely dangerous. Steer clear!
7. Nipple stimulation
Nipple stimulation can release oxytocin and get the contractions happening, or increase the contractions. Doesn’t hurt, does it ladies?!
Jess says that although doctors are not convinced, many women swear by getting their bodies moving by going for a long walk. Getting outdoors and going for a walk in fresh air can’t hurt so it’s a safe one to try!
Inducing acupuncture is another one that many women try, and lots with success! Jess says to make sure you are getting this under supervision of your OB and preferably around your due date.