Natural Labor Induction Methods That Work

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If you’re approaching or have surpassed your expected due date, you may be eager to finally meet your baby. As if your hormones aren’t working hard enough, your feelings of uneasiness continue to grow. The thought of hospital inducement is also a scary topic that many women hope to avoid. However, there are natural labor induction methods that work. Whatever you may be experiencing, inducing your labor naturally at home is very possible and isn’t as scary as you think. There are various natural induction methods that can assist to initiate labor in a natural and safe way. You may have heard everything from exercising, having sex, or ingesting castor oil will help labor start naturally. However, what is genuinely fact, vs what is fiction? Here are several natural induction methods we’ve advised our patients here at Midwife 360 for your pregnancy.

Let’s Talk About Sex

Many women have had success with natural labor induction with sex. This is due to the presence of prostaglandins in sperm. These are the same estrogen molecules present in cervical ripening drugs such as Cervidil. Partaking in sex frequently increases the effectiveness of inducing labor. “Third times the charm” is the natural labor induction strategy motto. For example, the amount of sperm from three ejaculations has the same quantity of prostaglandins as Cervidil. Now routine sex at 40+ weeks can come as a shock to some, it sure beats the alternatives of Cervidil and Pitocin. These medical alternatives can cause more painful contractions and even ruptured membranes or fetal distress.

Self Care

Pampering yourself is a wonderful way to unwind and refocus before the arrival of the baby. While prenatal massages aren’t bad, you might want to concentrate on the feet. Foot massages contain trigger points that have the power to induce labor. Try an assortment of natural treatments like a foot massage, reflexology, and even a pedicure.

Natural Herbs

Midwives and elder medical practitioners have traditionally utilized herbs for induction. Clinical induction approaches incorporate some of the same lines of therapy as traditional herbs. Although these herbs are natural and used for medicinal purposes, they should only be provided by a medical professional or midwife. The safety and effectiveness have not yet been proven for use on their own. However, may utilize a mix of the following herbs/remedies: Evening primrose oil, Caulophyllum, and Cohosh

Keep Things Spicy

Experimenting with spices is a great way to induce labor. Keep in mind these methods are not scientifically proven but have worked for many as a natural approach. Spicy dishes encourage the gastrointestinal system to generate prostaglandins, which cause uterine contractions. Although spicing things up can induce labor, keep in mind that spicy intake can generate unwanted side effects such as heartburn. It is always best practice to discuss with your health care provider if you are unsure of any activity or method you wish to partake in.

Meet the Midwives at Midwife360

Midwife360 was founded in 2014 and has since been a mainstay in women’s health care in South Florida. Midwife360 provides both holistic gynecology and midwifery services such as regular women’s care, family planning, and prenatal care and childbirth. This group of lovely and clever ladies all has a love for combining traditional and modern medical care practices. Importantly, they bring together a practice focused on a strong bond between physician and patient, personalized requirements, and genuine healing.

What If I Have Group B Strep (GBS) While Pregnant or in Labor?

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Group B Streptococcus or GBS is a common bacterial organism found in about a third of people. This bacterial organism is most commonly found in the intestinal tract. However, it can move through the body and colonize the rectum, bladder, and vaginal tract of women. Colonize meaning the bacteria is present, but not infecting the tissues or causing symptoms.

GBS has the ability to give anyone an infection. However most adults, due to having a healthy microbiome, will keep any harmful bacteria in check and will not cause an illness. 

What’s The Big Deal About GBS During Pregnancy?

Decades ago, GBS was the leading cause of infection in newborns and infants. This infection can have devastating effects on a fragile new life, including pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis. It can cause bladder, uterine, or urinary tract infections. It can also cause miscarriage and increase the risk of premature labor and rupture of membranes. GBS can also cause stillbirth. 

Newborns can get GBS infection in utero, during birth, or even from healthcare workers and family members. Handwashing is important for anyone who will be holding a newborn baby to prevent spreading GBS or other harmful infections.

The Risks to Baby  

When a baby is exposed to GBS in labor or during birth, he or she has a 50% chance of becoming colonized with GBS. Nevertheless, a small percentage of babies exposed to GBS will become infected and sick.  

Most often, babies become infected through exposure in the birth canal during birth. As well as from bacteria migrating upwards once the water has broken. 

Testing For GBS

As of 2020, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now states that the best time to test for GBS presence is between the 36th and 37th weeks of pregnancy.  This test is done by swabbing the vagina and rectum to determine if GBS is present.

There is also an FDA-approved rapid test that can diagnose GBS in roughly an hour. 

GBS Treatment

To prevent GBS infection in babies antibiotics are used, however, there are associated risks. Many of us know antibiotics are detrimental to our microbiome. Babies receive significant benefits from their mom’s microbiome when birthed vaginally. In turn, affecting the baby’s entire life in a positive way. 

In order to mitigate infections overall, if a laboring mom has prolonged rupture of membranes, a fever, or other infection risk factors, antibiotics will be prescribed even if GBS testing was negative. The treatment is typically IV antibiotics for a minimum of 4 hours before the baby is born. Of course, the time of birth is hard to predict, so typically the hospital will start the antibiotics upon arrival to the hospital.

Treatment has been very effective for lowering the number of newborns who develop GBS infections. There is some controversy concerning antibiotic use during labor and how this can affect babies. 

Is Treatment Harmful For Baby?

Some studies suggest that antibiotics during pregnancy and delivery can decrease the presence of beneficial bacteria in a newborn. Breastfeeding and probiotics can help to boost a newborn’s microbiome. 

Antibiotics can cause problems for mom, including yeast infections or nipple infections. This can complicate and disrupt breastfeeding. Sometimes newborns can develop thrush as well. Allergic reactions are rare, as long as your healthcare provider is aware of any allergies. 

Taking a probiotic during pregnancy and after birth can help to prevent thrush or yeast infections.

Can I Reduce My Chance of Testing Positive for GBS?

Healthy vaginal and gut flora can prevent infection, which could affect the presence of GBS. 

Whether or not it will decrease your risk of GBS, there are other benefits to a healthy microbiome. Mitigating the risk of miscarriage, preterm labor, vaginal and bladder infections during labor, are all benefits. 

Steps to boost your microbiome include:

  • Stay away from processed sugar and junk food
  • Implement 8 servings of leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables into your diet
  • Take prenatal vitamins (zinc, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C)
  • Eat more Lacto-fermented foods (example: sauerkraut, yogurt, cucumber, sourdough bread)
  • Reduce stress
  • Use oral and vaginal probiotics throughout pregnancy

Taking all of these into consideration and doing your best to check every box may not change the status if diagnosed, however, it can help to protect against GBS-related prenatal complications. If you are doing all of the necessary steps and have not tested positive before this can help to prevent GBS colonization and the need for antibiotics.  

For More Information, Contact Midwife360

Midwife360 has been providing holistic gynecology and pregnancy services in South Florida since 2014. The founder of Midwife360, P. Fadwah Halaby CNM, takes pride in offering holistic evidence-based practice for all midwife services such as women’s care, family planning, pregnancy care, and birthing. If you have any questions contact Midwife360 today.

What to Expect from a Hospital Birth

What happens when you choose to have your baby in the hospital? The specific answers to this question depend on whether you are sent there for induction or are arriving in labor. It also depends on your planned mode of birth – vaginal or cesarean. We will talk about planned vaginal birth in this article. 

Know what you’re signing for

If you arrive at the hospital for a planned induction, you will be registered for your stay, then sent to the L&D unit to check in. If they have an available room for you, you will be admitted to that room, given a hospital gown to change into and asked to leave a urine specimen in a cup. A nurse will then come in and hand you a clipboard with a stack of papers to sign. Most of them are consent forms and she has likely perfected a quick synopsis of each form. You aren’t encouraged or discouraged from reading them thoroughly, and she will answer your questions. However, this part of the intake usually goes pretty quickly – if you get my drift. The forms include consent to treat for vaginal or cesarean birth, consent for blood products, consent for Vitamin K, eye ointment, (maybe Hepatitis B vaccine, circumcision for boys, and a new eye exam that includes dilating the baby’s eye and holding it open with a metal cup). Your provider is really the one who should be giving you the risks and benefits of each intervention that you are signing for, but in reality that almost never happens.

Triage and cervical checks

If you are in active labor, unless the baby is imminently coming, you will be processed through the labor triage room where you will be given a gown and asked to leave a urine sample and get hooked up to the monitors to determine your labor pattern. Then one of the nurses (or your provider if available) will do a cervical check to see if you are at least 4 – 6 cm. You will stay depending on your contraction pattern and your cervical dilation. If your contractions are not frequent enough or lasting long enough or too long, and your dilation isn’t at least 6, you may get an ultrasound and then (if everything is good on the ultrasound) sent home. This may happen several times before you are finally admitted in labor. It is not a bad idea to stay home as long as you feel safe before going to the hospital to avoid being sent home multiple times.

When you arrive in labor, whether breathing through your contractions or feeling like pushing, the above- mentioned forms still have to be signed once you are admitted – by you, the ‘patient’. If the baby is coming and you absolutely can’t sign, they will give them to you after.  You get the idea.

So what happens when you’re admitted? 

From here on out, whether induction or active labor, everything is basically the same. After the forms, they will come in with all of the IV equipment to start your IV and draw blood. Everyone gets an IV unless you make prior arrangements with your provider, and most providers prefer you to have the IV. You are also then hooked up to the monitor with a toco that documents the timing of your contractions and an US that displays the baby’s heartbeat. 

Things you need to know

Now you are basically tied down with 2 monitor wires and an IV line which makes it difficult to get out of the bed or even change positions. Unfortunately, this goes against one of the main aspects of efficient labor – that of free movement. Even L&D nurses are getting hip to Spinning Babies – a system of postures and movement that help the baby shift into the best relationship to the mother’s pelvis for a smooth birth.

You will likely have a cervical check once you’re all settled in, and you may or may not be asked for your permission. If you are not already 6 cm or do not achieve 6 cm within a couple of hours, the provider will likely want to start pitocin to speed things up. Again, you may or may not be asked permission for this. 

Induction process 

If you are there to be induced, sometimes they start with a cervical ripening agent. In south Florida, most providers use Cervidil which is a tampon-like insert that stays in the vagina for 12 hours. Some still use Cytotec which is ¼ of a pill that is less predictable than Cervidil and can cause strong contractions that come too frequently. It has been associated with fetal intolerance and uterine rupture. You have a right to decline this. Two hours after the Cervidil is finished and taken out, they will want to start the Pitocin and break your water bag.

Here comes the epidural

Once things get rolling, if you choose to get an epidural, the anesthesiologist or Registered Nurse anesthetist will come in to evaluate you, give you the risks and benefits of the procedure and forms to sign. If you are a good candidate for the procedure, they will ask everyone to leave the room, prep and drape you and place the epidural catheter. Afterwards, they lay you flat in the bed for about 20 minutes and then you will be able to sit up and turn side to side with help, but will no longer be allowed out of the bed.

It is not impossible to do some of the Spinning Babies postures while tied to the bed or with an epidural, but it is much harder and requires a dedicated doula or very motivated nurse to accomplish them.

Once you become fully dilated you may be asked to start pushing, even if you don’t feel ready. Alternatively, if your baby is high and you don’t have a strong urge to push (or have an epidural and can’t feel that urge) you may be allowed to ‘labor down’. This refers to the process of allowing the labor contractions to bring the baby’s head down through the birth canal so that the pushing phase can be much shorter. 

Let’s talk pushing + birth

Pushing in the hospital is typically more like an athletic event with everyone yelling at you to “PUUUUSH” and instructing you to hold your breath while you push for a count of 10. You will likely have your knees up in the air with someone helping you hold your legs back. There is a definite air of adrenaline inspired action and rush to get the baby out at this point. Once the head is born, you will be told to push again to effect birth of the body and the baby may or may not be placed on your belly. Typically the cord is cut shortly thereafter and then the baby is taken to the warmer to be stimulated and dried and “eyes and thighs” (eye ointment and Vitamin K shot) are done. The baby will then be swaddled in a receiving blanket and handed to you. Some L&Ds are supporting skin to skin with the parents and may not wrap the baby up before giving him back to you. 

That is a typical hospital labor and delivery scenario. There may be individual providers that do things slightly differently, but for the most part this is the way we do it in America.

Evidence Based Birth

In general, you are not asked permission for any of the procedures and interventions that are performed in the hospital. The general idea being that you have presented yourself there so you must be ok with whatever they feel is appropriate. The truth is that most of what is done in the hospital is NOT evidence based and you would significantly benefit from educating yourself on the different possible interventions (ask your provider what the typical birth scenario looks like to her). A web resource such as Evidence Based Birth is invaluable for expecting parents whether they’ve had a baby in the hospital or are expecting their first.

Interventions 

Another trend that I’ve witnessed is the trove of interventions that are performed on the newborn – especially if she is a premie. Our hospitals and hospital providers are making A LOT of money off the backs of our most precious and fragile resource – the next generation of human beings, who cannot speak for themselves. Please educate yourselves as parents and protect your little ones from these unnecessary interventions!

*As a nurse midwife who worked in the hospital Labor and Delivery units from 2005 – 2014, both as a Labor and Delivery nurse and as a CNM, I have had a substantial amount of experience seeing thousands of women and families come through to experience the birth of their babies. Since 2008, I have worked in my own home birth practice where we have periodic exposure to the hospital L&Ds with the clients that we transfer in for one reason or another. I have not seen many substantial changes happening for the process of hospital birth, other than perhaps a nod to the delayed cord clamping movement with a reluctant delay of a minute or two or milking of the cord in some cesareans (which is now thought to contribute to brain bleeds and not such a good idea). The only real change that has occurred has been the elimination of the regular newborn nursery, and this seems to have resulted in a greater number of babies being sent to the NICU – negating the potential positive outcome of having less babies experiencing separation from their parents.