How to Initiate Labor

Ready to give birth? A baby is considered term, or ready to deliver, anytime after 38 weeks of gestation. OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson explains that doctors cannot induce labor in a woman until her 39th or 40th week of pregnancy.

“Trust me, by 38 weeks, women are ready!” Dr. Lisa says. “This is something you want to and have to get out.”

Safe Methods to Help Speed Up Labor and Delivery:
• Acupuncture or acupressure
• Massage
• Sexual intercourse -- prostaglandins, a lipid compound found in semen -- can help initiate labor
• Walking
• Rocking on an exercise ball
• Nipple stimulation -- can stimulate contractions, but a word of caution: sometimes the contractions can come on too strong

“There are herbs that can illicit contractions, but you have to be very careful and you have to consult your obstetrician,” Dr. Lisa cautions. “A lot of those herbs can have adverse reactions, such as increasing bleeding or clotting, which can be dangerous during labor.”

• Eating castor oil can cause bowel distress
• Eating Spicy foods or exotic fruits can cause indigestion
• Swabbing evening primrose oil on the cervix may cause negative reactions, such as increased bleeding or clotting