Historically, herbal remedies have been used for their beneficial effects during pregnancy by medieval midwives, though most herbal remedies actually help tone or prepare the uterus for birth rather than actually start labor. One of the most important factors when determining the likelihood of a successful labor induction is the amount of cervical ripening during pregnancy, which enhances the likelihood that labor will begin naturally so that the baby can be born vaginally. If you are pregnant, you should learn how labor induction works and what the benefits are. Understanding this information will help you prepare.
A number of natural ways exist for obtaining labor naturally including herbal remedies. Some people recommend herbs as well as homeopathic remedies to initiate labor. According to a study published in BMJ Open in 2018, although some herbs may be effective, there is a lack of evidence to confirm whether they are safe to use.
A doctor or midwife should advise the use of herbs to induce labor to ensure its safety prior to attempting this method. Induce labor with caution. Some herbs are dangerous when taken in large quantities. Their effects have the potential to be toxic in combinations. Most early medicines are now synthesized, however the original chemical formulas used as building blocks come from plants or herbs.
There are some herbs which are harmful at high dose, but safe at lower concentrations. The FDA does not regulate the herbal industry, so herbal products from two different companies may have different potencies. Additionally, there may be other chemicals or preservatives included depending on the manufacturer’s process.
It is not advised to attempt herbal induction without the guidance of your healthcare provider before 41 weeks of pregnancy.
Herbs For Labor And Delivery
Below is a list of herbs used to induce labour during pregnancy
#1. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
As early as the 6th century, raspberry leaf tea was used for inducing labor. There is little research that raspberry leaf tea has any impact during pregnancy. The only human studies we have found where raspberry leaf tea was taken did not produce any differences in labor outcomes. It has been observed in these studies that taking raspberry leaf tea did not result in any adverse side effects. The evidence suggests that even if raspberry leaf tea does not bring you into labor, it could still be safe to drink while pregnant.
There are very mixed results on animal studies you can find here showing that raspberry leaf tea causes contractions in animals. Other studies demonstrate that it causes relaxation of the uterus. These differences are primarily due to the species of animal tested, the preparation method, and the dosage. Based on our existing knowledge, we cannot draw firm conclusions on the effectiveness of raspberry leaf tea.
It is generally considered safe to consume raspberry leaf tea .The evidence on its effectiveness while pregnant is very weak. We do not know how it may induce labor .
#2. Castor Oil
In ancient Egypt, castor oil has been used as a natural way to induce labor. One possible reason relates to an active component called Ricinoleic acid. It has been shown to promote the release of a hormone-like substance known as prostaglandins. A process known as ripening the cervix can make labor easier. Although this sounds completely plausible, what evidence is there to support it?
Three studies were conducted in the Cochran review on pregnant women who took castor oil to induce labor. Two of the three studies showed that over half of the women will deliver within 24 hours. In the third study, women taking castor oil were 3 times more likely to undergo labor.
Though these studies suggest that castor oil may be an effective method of inducing labor naturally, the authors of the review suggest that interpreting such findings with care should be taken. Although the studies contained small samples, it is unclear whether castor oil would be of benefit to most women. As a result, we cannot be sure if it could cause one or another of the side effects mentioned below. These side effects include nausea and diarrhea, which may contribute to dehydration.
Inherent quality studies are needed to confirm a positive effect. If you choose to use castor oil, be aware of the risk of nausea and diarrhea.
Going into labor requires a great deal of energy, comparable to in the event of a marathon or a high-stress workout of that type. This means that you’ll have to consume much more carbohydrate in an hour (around 10g). It has been shown that dates provide a good source of energy for women during pregnancy due to their high carbohydrate content. This makes dates a good energizer that helps encourage and store the energy you rely on during your marathon-like pregnancy marathon aka giving birth.
There has been research demonstrating that eating dates toward the end of pregnancy can improve dilation and contractions. This may lead to a natural labor and vaginal delivery and reduce the need for other medical interventions. This sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Even better, if one consumes dates during pregnancy they can be consumed without the threat of side effects. However, it should be mentioned that research has yet to be done on how dates might affect women with gestational diabetes. In women with gestational diabetes, dates may not be an appropriate source of food for induced labor since they contain high carbohydrates. During late pregnancy, eating between 60-80g of dates a day can help to significantly reduce labor complications.
There have been reports on the use of pineapple and pineapple juice in South Asian traditional medicine to induce labor and abortion. However, the effect of pineapple consumption on pregnant women has not yet been tested. There is only limited research done on animals and human uterine tissue.
Despite the fact that there is limited research available on pineapple, the few studies we do have found pineapple juice can result in contractions in both non-pregnant rat and pregnant uterine tissue samples. According to this study, the uterine tissue contracting due to pineapple extract may be related to an enzyme called bromelain found in pineapple that researchers believe to cause cervical ripening. However, the hypothesis has not yet been proven. The studies we possess do not provide adequate knowledge about what happens in pineapple when eaten by mouth.
There are very few studies showing pineapple induces tightening of the uterus. Further research would be helpful.
#5. Evening Primrose Oil
Among studies of evening primrose oil to initiate labor, some studies suggested a ripeness of cervical tissues and increased chances of a vaginal delivery. Nevertheless, some studies have found that evening primrose oil does not make a substantial difference. It did not affect the duration of a woman’s pregnancy or the time it took her to go into labor.
Although these side effects may or may not simply be a symptom of pregnancy in general, the gastrointestinal complications, like constipation and diarrhea, have also been reported.
The Bottom Line: The lack of clinical and practical research into evening primrose oil is an obstacle to understanding it’s effectiveness and safety in inducing labor.
#6. Spicy Food
Several women have believed that eating spicy foods helps with labor induction and that it may be the saving grace in a natural process. There is no scientific evidence of whether spicy foods actually work, however. The only thing we know is that eating spicy food may cause discomfort in some people. So, if you intend to try eating some Kung Pao Chicken and might be expecting, keep some tums in your stash in case.
There are currently no scientific studies on spicy food’s efficacy or safety to induce labor. Further research is needed to gain a full understanding of its efficacy and safety.
Although there is limited research on the use of blue cohosh or black cohosh to induce labor, research that does exist indicates that taking these herbs to induce labor may have major health risks for both mom and baby.
Hyponatremia is a serious condition with the potential to result in brain damage, seizures, coma, respiratory arrest, and death. Dehydration of sodium levels leads to a serious drop in blood sodium levels. In pregnancy, there are various risks that can apply to the pregnancy, including perinatal strokes, heart attacks, brain damage, and multiple organ injuries. It is best to avoid black and blue cohosh as much as possible.
Using blue and black cohosh is associated with a number of safety concerns, which is why it should not be used during pregnancy.
Other Natural Remedies
In addition to these natural remedies, you can also walk, eat spicy foods, relax, visualize, among others.