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Rupturing the Membranes

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If the cervix has already begun to dilate, your Dr. could attempt to induce labor by breaking the amniotic sac. This is referred to as an Amniotomy, or Rupturing the Membranes. A amniohook (which looks like a large crochet hook) is used to snag the amniotic sac and create a small tear. This tear will allow fluid to slowly leak out. By removing the fluid, your baby puts more pressure on the cervix, which in turns causes contractions.

Typically contractions will being within 12 hours of rupturing the membranes, however, if contractions do not being, Pitocin (oxytocin) may be given. The upside: rupturing the membranes is known to be an effective way to artificially begin labor. The downside: Once the membranes have been ruptured you typically have a time limit (24 hours) for when the Dr. will require the baby to be delivered, due to increased risk of infection.

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Castor Oil

Castor oil has been used for many years to induce labor.  Many women, doctors, and midwives swear by castor oil as a way to induce labor. Other mothers have tried castor oil will no success.  Unfortunately almost all have experienced the side effects which may be very unpleasant.  Potential side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dehydration (from loose stools and/or vomiting), fetal distress, and meconium in the baby.

Castor oil is a laxative. It is believed that castor oil works to stimulate the bowels.  There are reports of having the baby within hours of a castor oil induction or the induction taking days, if it does work. Limited medical studies indicate that there is data to suggest that labor may be more likely in the first day after ingesting castor oil.

Typically mothers spend a lot of time in the bathroom with diarrhea before noticing contractions. Then contractions kick in, if they are going to do so, though these contractions may not progress to full blown labor. This can be seen as a type of cervical ripening agent, even if labor does not immediately follow.

Castor oil has an unpleasant taste, but there are a variety of recipes available to make the ingestion more palatable.  Common concoctions take the form of smoothies.

Many practitioners do not recommend castor oil because of these potential side effects.   It is always wise to talk to your midwife or doctor about how to use castor oil before doing so.

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Get a Pedicure

Some women swear that their late-term pedicure prompted labor, while others had no such luck. There's not a lot of scientific research to support or refute the efficacy of pedicures, but plenty of mothers claim it was a pedicure that jump-started the birthing process.

Supporters claim pedicures induce labor by stimulating specific pressure points around the foot and ankle. Manipulation of these pressure points, the reasoning goes, causes the uterus to begin contracting. This is more or less based on the principles of reflexology that maintain that pressure points on certain extremities correspond to every other part of the body. Reflexologists believe that manipulating these pressure points clears up "blockages" in the body's energy field.

Of course this can sound pretty hokey. Many women don't really care about their energy blockages; they just want to get their labor on the fast track. Pedicures may be an option.

As always, be sure to clear it with your health professional, and make sure that it is safe to be around the various chemicals and fumes in the salon. If nothing else, you will have a nice relaxing time and your toenails (which you probably haven't seen recently) will look great.


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Walk on Uneven Surfaces

Walking on uneven surfaces, can potentially help rock the baby lower and encourage the cervix to dilate. An example would be placing one foot in the street and one foot on the curb, and walking in this manner. Maintaining balance may be difficult towards the end of pregnancy. Make sure to take slow steps or stabalize yourself by holding onto a loved one for support and to minimize the risk of falling.

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Eating Spicy Food

Some women say that they went into labor within a few hours of eating spicy food and swear that it was that steamy salsa from their favorite Mexican joint that set them on the fast track.

If you understand the physiology of what can stimulate contractions, it makes sense that eating spicy foods could induce labor in some cases. Spicy food can stimulate your digestive system and may even irritate it... which could lead to stomach troubles and diarreah.  Also, spicy food may also induce labor by increasing prostaglandin production. The hormone prostaglandin helps to contract the smooth muscles of the body and are known to play a role in inducing labor.

To date, however, there has been no credible research performed that says that eating any spicy foods will induce labor or start contractions.

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Nipple Stimulation

Nipple stimulation is often seen as one of the top natural induction techniques.  The theory is that this works by releasing the body's natural oxytocin and causing contractions.

There are a number of nipple stimulation methods including a Breast Pump, Hands, Shower Head, or Oral Stimulation (from a baby or partner).

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Pitocin can bring on contractions to induce or move your labor along. The drug Pitocin is an artificial form of the hormone oxytocin, which triggers and strengthens contractions. It's delivered through an IV. Your doctor may start with a small dose (a "whiff") and will gradually increase it until your contractions are strong and frequent enough for the baby to be born.

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Stripping the membranes

The doctor will manually separate the membrane that connects the amniotic sac from the wall of the uterus.  This causes the body to release hormones called prostaglandins that may lead to contractions.  You may experience some cramping and spotting after this procedure.

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