Some tuck into heat-packing curries, some lace up their runners and hit the road, and others still revert to the method that got them pregnant in the first place in order to induce labor.

In a recent report published in the June issue of Birth, researchers found that more than half of women surveyed said they tried eating spicy foods, walking, having sex and stimulating their nipples in an attempt to kickstart contractions.

Of the 201 women who responded to the survey carried out by Ohio State University, 51 percent of respondents said they tried some of these unprescribed methods. Most of the women who tried these techniques tended to be younger, averaging about 27 years, and were pregnant with their first child and beyond 39 weeks.

Other techniques included exercise, the use of laxatives, acupuncture, masturbation and herbal supplements.

Among the 102 women who said they had tried to bring on labor, 87 tried walking, 46 reported engaging in sexual intercourse, 22 ate spicy food and 15 performed nipple stimulation. Some of the respondents tried multiple methods.

Researchers distributed the questionnaires to women in 2008 over a four-month period.

According to lead author Jonathan Schaffir, some of the theories he's heard from patients and existing literature on inducing labor include: sex can ripen the cervix or lead to uterine contractions; spicy foods and laxatives create intestinal activity that could give the uterus "a nudge"; and starvation works by making a hungry baby escape the womb in search of food.

None of the respondents used the starvation method.

Schaffir points out that some research has suggested that castor oil may help labor start more quickly as it acts as a laxative.

But in a 2003 Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine article, physicians at a New York hospital wrote of an incident in which they found a woman's umbilical cord protruding from a 2 cm (3/4 of an inch) uterine rupture after she took 5 ml (1 tsp) of castor oil to induce labor.

Another method known to produce a physiological effect related to labor is nipple stimulation as it leads to the release of the hormone oxytocin, which can cause uterine contractions.

Mom and mom-to-be web forum babycenter.com seems to corroborate Schaffir's findings as many of the posts are by women in their 39th or 40th week looking for insight on how to start labor.

One mom swears by nipple stimulation, saying: "Two words: Nipple Stimulation. It worked for me! It tricks your body into thinking you're breastfeeding causing your uterus to contract (which naturally occurs after birth). We did it one night and I woke up the next morning in labor."

Another mom said she gently bounced and rocked on her exercise ball for 20 minutes which triggered contractions two hours later.

To see what other moms have tried, visit http://www.babycenter.com/400_what-are-some-methods-to-induce-labor-on-your-own_815179_870.bc.

 

 

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