Pregnancy App Article: "Getting labour started"

Week 40
Getting labour started
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Let's get moving
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Curry, castor oil and sex: combined, they sound like some dodgy MP's idea of a cracking night out, but anyone who's gone beyond 40 weeks will know that all three help bring on labour - allegedly.

Only five per cent of women give birth on their due date, and (sorry) most babies come after rather than before it. Here are a few things you might want to try to help get this party started.

Get active
Walking (or should that be waddling?) is claimed to help. By staying vertical you're encouraging your baby's head to bear down on your cervix, which can stimulate the release of oxytocin - that all-important hormone for getting things going.

But don't overdo it - you're going to need your energy for the birth itself... oh, and the next 21 years. Similarly, if you're late and your baby's breech or back to back, it's thought that getting down on all fours can help shift your baby into a more 'labour friendly' position.

Stimulate the nipples
Oxytocin, a hormone that causes contractions, is released in the body when the breasts are stimulated. But don't just have a quick tweak - the trick is to mimic the suckling of a baby and massage the areola (the dark circle around your nipple).

Trials have proved that breast stimulation can be quite effective, but beware - you can overstimulate the production of oxytocin, resulting in very powerful contractions, very quickly.

Eat curry
Some women swear by a hot curry to get labour started. It's meant to stimulate your bowel, which is served by the same nerve pathways as the uterus. The risk is you could just end up with chronic indigestion.

Or castor oil
Years ago this used to be prescribed by midwives, as it supposedly does the same job as a curry. But it tastes foul, and having the runs during labour is miserable - to state the glaringly obvious.

Make love
Yes, this IS exactly what got you into this mess in the first place. However, the prostaglandins in the gels used to induce labour are very similar to hormones found in semen, so popular belief has it that having sex can sometimes help. It's a more natural way to get labour started if you can be bothered (we couldn't).

Eat pineapple
Talking of getting fruity, if you can't face the above, try guzzling tropical fruit salad instead. Fresh pineapple, kiwi, mango and papaya all contain enzymes that may cause mild contractions - pineapple especially, as it's rich in bromelain, which some studies suggest can help to soften the cervix.Problem is, you'll need to eat buckets of the stuff - so you could just end up with that castor oil feeling.

Try complementary therapies
There's only anecdotal evidence to suggest reflexology can be used to get labour started or even help give a slow labour a kick up the backside, but it can be wonderfully soothing (and few things are by the very end of pregnancy). 

Again, scientific research is thin on the ground, but anecdotal evidence suggests acupuncture can help start labour. Additionally, it's thought to be useful for helping realign babies into an optimum birthing position, which can in itself help bring on labour.
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Walking and sex worked for me with both babies... obviously not at the same time though.
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Try not to hurry things along too much - enjoy these last few days of peace and quiet. Stock up on sleep - you'll need it.
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My NCT class teacher advised getting on all fours, which was kind of ironic... that was how I'd got into this state in the first place.
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I did ALL of these things and it still took gel, my waters being broken and a drip to get my labour started at 42 weeks. By the time I did actually go into labour I was bloody exhausted, so I really wish I hadn't bothered with all the effort and just put my feet up with a box of chocolates instead.
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