Helping to encourage labour, by Kirsty Gallacher

A big congratulations to everyone who had babies, and thanks to so many of you for your emails, and pics!

It's sounds really cheesy but it really is a pleasure and an honour to share such a special time.  And it's wonderful when I also get the chance to meet the babies at postnatal yoga or baby swimming.


Thanks also to Caroline for a lovely Shiatsu demo at a recent Sunday's tea & chat. It's always great to hear and see first hand what our therapists can do to help alleviate some of the pregnancy discomforts. Also, please feel free to make suggestions if there's anything you'd particularly like to know more about. During the demo one of the things that came up, and it always does, is what can be done (if anything) to help get labour going and avoid a medical induction... so that brings me to the topic of this month's blog...


Helping to Encourage Labour

As I mentioned it came up on Sunday during Shiatsu and it comes up a lot at our tea & chat after pregnancy yoga classes, and in birth preparation workshops. There are many reasons why a medical induction might be suggested, indeed many of them are good reasons. However, induction often leads to what's commonly known as the 'cascade of interventions', where one intervention leads to another, and ends in a Cesarian Birth. So is there any way to avoid a medical induction?


Well, you could try some, or all, of the following tips. These are more natural, or use complementary treatments, and might encourage labour to start before a medical induction is undertaken. Bear in mind that although these are all more natural ways of encouraging, and more gentle than a medical induction, there is of course still a degree of interference. Some would argue that if baby isn't ready, baby isn't ready and you should leave well alone. Others will tell you that if baby isn't ready, none of these will work anyway. Having said all that, if baby is close to being ready, and there's talk of a medical induction, these may well just tip you over the edge and get things started.


And don't forget that during labour, if things slow down, or stall, or indeed come to a stop, some of these might help you avoid an intervention to 'speed things along' or 'get things going again'.


So, whether you are past your due date, or you get to hospital and everything slows down. Try some of these to help things along:


1. Walk, Walk and Walk some more…

Walking helps stimulate the pelvic area and will help to initiate labour if your are overdue – long walks outside before labour and use the camel and charlie chaplin walks at home or in hospital.


2. Raspberry Leaf Tea

Take this up to 2 months prior to your date as it helps soften the cervix and condition the uterus.


3. Make Love

Semen contains prostaglandin which stimulates the cervix to open up, making love also releases oxytocin.


4. Nipple and Clitoral Stimulation

If you're in hospital, ask for privacy. Stimulation of these areas helps with release of natural oxytocin.


5. Practice Yoga

If you practice regularly during pregnancy, it will help make sure that the pelvic floor and thigh muscles are stretched and flexible.


6. Gravity

If your labour isn't progressing get up and move around, try squatting exercises, leaning, hanging, birth ball – keep knees lower than hips and use support if you need it, ropes, a door, table, shelf, bed, partner…


7. Dim the Lights

This helps to create a relaxing mood and can remove any inhibitions you are feeling.


8. Get into Water

Take a warm bath with stimulating aromatherapy oils in the water. Be careful what you use as some are contraindicated in childbirth, and only use very small amounts. Clary sage is a good one.


9. Birth Companion

Keep your partner by your side to help maintain your state of relaxation and confidence – use touch anchors and affirmations.


10. Herbal Remedies

Try 4 drops of tincture of squaw vine & raspberry leaf top, drink in warm water. If you are planning to use therapeutic Herbs during your pregnancy & labour, it's best to consult with a professionally qualified therapist, as these treatments can have significant influences upon your body.


11. Homeopathic Treatments

Pulsatilla 6c to progress labour or Caullophyllum to start labour. Try the Helios kit and you can call to about what to use specific to you. Otherwise, it's good to consult with a professionally qualified therapist, as these treatments can have significant influences upon your body.


12. Laugh

Have a glass of wine or champers and put on some funny DVDs


13. Visualisation

Use the fully bloomed flower visualisation.


14. Food and Drink

Aloe Vera Juice, Pineapple (fresh and including core), Hot Spicy Food. A curry is good. Capsaicin the active ingredient in chilli peppers stimulate the production of endorphins so there is a double benefit.

15. Acupuncture, Acupressure, Shiatsu or Reflexology

These can be helpful at speeding up or inducing Labour. If you do any of the these, your therapist is likely to give you some pressure points to work yourself. Again always consult with a qualified therapist.


16. Activate SP6

If treatments and therapies are not for you, try this one yourself. SP6 is the spleen meridian – located 4 fingers above the back of the inside ankle bone – use thumb to exert pressure.


Be well, and I hope to see you in a class soon.