Is It Possible to Induce Labor?

by Serena Ma, ND, MS, LAc

Home stretch!  This week Dr. Christine and I will start with stronger labor acupuncture treatments. Today, I'm one week from the due date - but you know, babies are rarely born on their actual due date so I have no expectations.  :-)

I want to discuss other techniques I suggest for my patients for inducing labor.  There are some that I personally DO NOT advocate because I find them too harsh (blue cohosh, black cohosh, castor oil). Instead I prefer these methods:

  • Evening Primrose Oil - evening primrose oil is high in GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) which is a precursor to certain prostaglandins needed to 'ripen' or soften the cervix.  
    • starting week 34 - can take 500mg of evening primrose oil orally twice per day
    • starting week 36 - can insert 1-2 capsules (softgels) vaginally before bedtime (it will dissolve while you sleep!)
    • starting week 38 - can increase to 2-500mg capsules orally twice per day
    • Nipple Stimulation - produces oxytocin (which is considered a 'love' hormone) which brings on labor contractions as well as dilation of the cervix.  In fact, pitocin is the drug they use for labor induction which is synthetic oxytocin.
      • I suggest some major nipple stimulation with the breast pump - 15 minutes each breast twice per day (1 hour total).
      • Sex - a double whammy; semen contains high levels of prostaglandins and oxytocin is secreted, so go have sex!
      • Walking - the thought here is that walking (gravity) causes the baby's head to press on the cervix which may stimulate the release of oxytocin.

Might as well try it:

  • Food:
    • Spicy food -  thought to irritate the intestines and get things moving
    • Pineapple - contains bromelain which may soften the cervix