From eating spicy peppers to guzzling castor oil (ew!), women who've hit the nine-month mark will do some wacky things to jump-start going into labor. Read some of the craziest techniques we've heard -- and find out if they actually work.
By Sarah Yang for TheBump.com
"With my first two children, I drank castor oil, and my water broke within 24 hours." -- taylor3472
The theory: Since castor oil is a strong laxative, some moms believe drinking it can stimulate the bowels enough to cause contractions and jump-start labor.
The reality: This one really isn't safe, so as tempting (um, yum?) as castor oil might sound, skip it. "Castor oil may dehydrate you," says Ashley Roman, MD, ob-gyn and faculty member at New York University's School of Medicine, and that's not good for you or baby. Plus, it probably won't work anyway. "There's not a lot of data out there that say castor oil works to induce labor," Roman adds.
Eating Spicy Foods
"My husband and I ate spicy food one night, and I went into labor at 5:30 a.m. the next day." -- liamkyle2010
The theory: Women have been known to order extra-spicy Indian food or consume a plateful of chilies to inspire baby to get moving. The idea? Hot foods irritate your digestive system and cause your uterus to contract.
The reality: All that spicy grub is more likely to give you heartburn than move you closer to delivery. "I haven't seen data that say this actually works," says Roman. Of course, since indigestion is probably your only risk, it may be worth a shot. "If you want to try it, it's fine," she adds.
"We had intense sex one night, and 30 minutes later I was on the floor having contractions. We went to the hospital, and I had my daughter early the next day!" -- blny7d
The theory: Having an orgasm could cause your uterus to contract. Plus, semen contains prostaglandins, hormones that are present in the drugs doctors use to induce labor.
The reality: The jury's still out on this one. Some doctors say that semen doesn't have enough prostaglandins and that an orgasm doesn't have enough oomph to start full-fledged labor. But Roman actually recommends that patients who want to induce labor naturally try doing the deed. Hey, if it doesn't work, at least you can have a little fun (and this may be your last chance before baby's born)!
"I'm not a real believer in natural labor inducers, but one night I told my fiance to play with my nipples to stimulate labor. He thought it wasn't going to work but tried anyway. Less than five minutes later, I felt a gush and my water broke!" -- cheerchick1800
The theory: Rubbing or gently tugging on your nipples could cause your body to release a hormone called oxytocin, which might start contractions.
The reality: It seems harmless, but DON'T do it! "This method can lead to contractions that last too long and that are too frequent," says Roman, "which may be unsafe for baby and mother."
"When I was a few days overdue, I went to my Thursday night prenatal swim class. My instructor said, 'We are going to get this baby out of you tonight!' I put a lot of effort in, and sure enough, I went into labor that night." -- ColeV25
The theory: Some believe walking and other exercise may shift your baby (thanks to gravity and movement from your hips), causing pressure on your pelvis and stimulating labor.
The reality: Take a hike -- or a swim. "Exercise is something we suggest women try, but studies haven't shown that it speeds up labor," says Roman. "In general, as long as you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy fetus, we don't restrict exercise."
"My massage therapist swears by stimulating pressure points around your ankles and wrists. We tried it, and sure enough, not even three hours later I started getting contractions." -- jp03
The theory: Acupressure and reflexology practitioners -- and even acupuncturists -- target specific pressure points on your body that they claim can stimulate your cervix.
The reality: If you're past your due date, it's safe to try -- but only if your doc okays it first, says Roman. "Don't do it on your own," she advises. But beware: There's no scientific proof that acupressure works. "I usually tell moms-to-be to be patient and let baby come out naturally," says Roman. "If they don't, we'll use a safe way to medically induce labor."
Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump
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