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12:0AM, Aug 14th 2013

Natural ways to get labour started

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If you're sick of waddling around being kicked and punched from the inside while people ask "Haven't you had that baby yet?", you may be searching for some natural ways to start your labour. From curries and cups of herbal tea to a quick bonk, we look at whether there is any medical merit behind these well-known methods.

A drop of the hot stuff
Many women go for the hottest curries, even if they're not that fond of them, to try and '╦ťflush' their babies out, working on the principle that stimulating your stomach will in turn stimulate your uterus into contracting.

Does it work? To be honest this one's a bit hit and miss and may leave you feeling sick as vindaloos are very fatty and rich. Don't be tempted to try castor oil as an alternative - it could cause a bad reaction (especially in the bowel region) and is no longer recommended by midwives or doctors as a way to get labour going.

Tweak those nipples
This may seem a bizarre way to start labour but according to midwives it works by releasing the natural hormone, oxytocin, which helps the uterus contract. To avoid overstimulating your uterus, you should only work on one nipple at a time, rolling it gently between your thumb and finger for a few minutes from about the 37th week of pregnancy.

Does it work?
Well, even if it doesn't you could always get your partner to do this for you, and you never know it may even lead to...

Sex, sex and more sex
Speaking of which, it's said that sex could get your labour going as semen contains prostaglandins, which can help ripen the cervix.

Does it work? It sounds easy but at 40 weeks plus, when you are feeling more like a beached whale than ready for a night of hot passion, sex could understandably be the last thing on your mind.

Get walking
A long walk or even a bumpy bus ride has been known to get things going.

Does it work? Well there's no guarantee, but going for a walk might help take your mind off the labour, if nothing else. Remember not to walk for too long, though, or you may run out of energy that you'll need in labour.

Drink raspberry leaf tea
Raspberry leaf tea is said to tone the uterus, making contractions more efficient. This shouldn't be drunk until the last trimester and then only in small amounts until about 37 weeks.

Does it work?
If you like the taste then you have nothing to lose, but remember that it needs to be pure raspberry leaf tea and not just flavoured tea.

Try the alternative
Complementary therapies, such as reflexology, work on the theory that certain points on your feet relate to parts of the body, so by massaging different areas of your feet you can stimulate the uterus. Make sure the treatment is carried out by a qualified reflexologist.

This also applies to acupuncture (where needles are inserted at certain points in the ear corresponding with the uterus) and aromatherapy (where oils are either massaged into the body or burned). Both lavender and jasmine are good oils for encouraging labour. The most potent is nutmeg, but this should only be used by a qualified aromatherapist.

Does it work? Both reflexology and acupuncture have yielded positive results from many women for getting their labour going, but every woman's body is different and what works for one may not necessarily work for you. If nothing else, a session of reflexology or aromatherapy will make you feel more relaxed and ready for labour.

What did you do to bring on your labour? Did it work? Join the conversation below...

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