Natural Birth Resources and Information

Natural ways to induce labour

If you are full term and in danger of being medically induced you may like to try some natural methods to trigger an overdue labour.

Home treatments

  1. Nipple stimulation - twiddling the nipples for 15 minutes or more stimulates the release of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for uterine contractions.
  2. Sex - followed by lying on your back with a pillow under your bottom for at least 30 minutes. Semen is rich in prostaglandin which ripens the cervix. Midwives often use a prostin pessery containing prostaglandin to medically induce labour. Also if you're lucky enough to have an orgasm as well, this will often start labour spontaneously.
  3. Spicy curry - This is a purgative and will stimulate the digestive system. Have as hot a curry as you can stand.
  4. Massage cervix - Midwives will often use a membrane sweep. You can try massaging the cervix yourself but be gentle. Method - 2 o'clock spot on cervix, rub for as long as 30 min, slowly and gently.
  5. Homeopathy - take Caulophyllum 30c every 30 minutes until contractions start. Then every hour until labour is established.
  6. Evening primrose oil - use gel capsules, take 3 x daily orally. Or 2-3 capsules high in the vagina and rest. Repeat 2-3 x 24hr intervals to ripen the cervix.
  7. Blowing up balloons - builds up intra-abdominal pressure and can put more pressure on the cervix to move things along.
  8. Eat pineapple - There seems to be general agreement that pineapple and its bromelain components do have a fibrolytic action, perhaps helping to soften the connective tissue of the cervix.
  9. Exercise - walking, running, bouncing on a birthing ball, yoga, swimming and climbing stairs. Also curb walking, I know it sounds funny, but I've women who swear by it! Walk along a curb, one leg up on the curb and one in the gutter, then turn around and go the other way.
  10. Acupressure or acupuncture –there are a few points which stimulate the body into labour. The strongest way is via small needles, but pressure can also be used. See a qualified therapist for points.

Professional treatments

  1. Acupuncture
  2. Acupressure massage
  3. Hypnotherapy
  4. Homeopathy
  5. Herbal medicine

Back pain in labour

Back pain seems to be an inevitable part of pregnancy. Is it something to be endured along with tiredness or are there ways to manage or prevent back pain?
Research has suggested that 50 to 80% of all pregnant women are reported to suffer back pain at some time during their pregnancy. This may not be surprising considering the huge changes which occur in a woman’s body. Weight gain, increase in fluid, postural shifts and hormones have all been blamed.
If you’ve had a previous injury, back problem or suffered back pain before you became pregnant you are more at risk of back problems when pregnant. If you do a lot of repetitive lifting or bending, either in your work or when caring for a toddler – this also puts you at a greater risk. Stress caused by physical or emotional problems can also exacerbate pain.
The two most common types of pregnancy related pain are lower back or posterior (back of) pelvis. Activities such as walking and running, rolling over in bed, bending forward, twisting, lifting and climbing stairs can all aggravate pain.
Remember preventing back problems is easier than trying to cure backache once it’s started. Pregnant women’s posture alters significantly as the weight of the baby increases, the mothers centre of gravity alters. Weight at the front tends to make women lean backwards, thrusting their shoulders back and stomach out thus creating an excessive curve in the lower back. This causes significant strain in the lumber spine which can lead to back pain.

Help yourself by:

  • Taking short periods of rest combined with activity
  • Strengthening your back and muscles with pre natal yoga, or swimming
  • Correcting your posture
  • Make your environment or workspace posture friendly
  • Wear comfortable soft-soled shoes or insoles
  • Sit with small cushion placed at the lower back
  • Lie on your side with a cushion between the knees and ankles and the abdomen supported by a banana or pregnancy pillow
  • Use ice or heat on the painful area
  • Have a prenatal remedial massage
  • Use a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine
  • Try a pregnancy support belt or sacroiliac belt

Hormonal changes during pregnancy cause the ligaments to soften and increase mobility in the joints. The pelvis naturally widens to enable the foetus to pass through the birth canal more easily. This can cause problems as the pelvis is particularly vulnerable to miss-alignment due to the increase in load, and softened ligaments. In conjunction with lengthening of the abdominal muscles, this results in increased joint mobility, pain and decreased stability. There are pregnancy back supports available which may provide an increase in joint stability and alleviate low back and posterior pelvic pain.
Most common pain relieving drugs are unsuitable during pregnancy, or have unwanted side effects.
Try some drug free methods of pain relief such as a maternity TENS machine, acupuncture or massage. A maternity TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) is safe to use whilst pregnant and has no side effects. TENS is user friendly and up to 90% effective instantly. Just apply the self adhesive electrodes to your back and turn the machine on until you feel a pleasant buzzing sensation. Maternity TENS is easy to use at home and safe for mum and baby. Heather Greer a Registered Nurse and maternity TENS expert says “Women often use a labour TENS machine for pain relief in childbirth, yet forget that it the ideal method to treat aches and pains whilst pregnant. The Neurotrac NT3 or labour TENS machine are the best all round TENS for back pain and labour pain.” Heather combines massage and TENS therapy for a highly effective unique treatment. Heather adds “a combination of treatments such as massage, TENS, acupressure points and yoga give a holistic approach to a complex problem”. A variety of TENS machines are available to hire or buy from labourtens.com.au. Up to 100% health fund rebates are available for labour TENS purchases depending on your level of cover.
If back pain persists or you experience sciatica consult your Doctor. You may also like to consult a physiotherapist, chiropractor, Osteopath or acupuncturist for treatment if symptoms persist.

Birth Plans

What is a birth plan?

It is a written communication tool which describes your wishes for labour, birth and afterwards. It lets your midwife and Doctors understand the kind of birth you desire if all goes smoothly. It is a good idea to keep an open mind in case things don’t go to plan. Remember to seek advice from your midwife or doctor when thinking about your options and ask them what choices are available. The medical team are there to ensure you and your baby are safe – it is important to listen to their advice and follow their instructions if complications occur.

Preparation

Before writing your plans go to antenatal classes, or read books about labour and birth to educate yourself on the process and find out your options. Talk to women who have had various kinds of births and ask them about their experiences, the pro’s and con’s. Discus the options with your care givers, partner or birth companion.

What to include in your plan

Place of birth / Home, hospital, birth centre.
Birth companion(s). Who you want with you, when and where. Consider a doula, or private midwife, or family and friends.
Consider whether or not to allow student midwives or doctors to be present. Whether you want photos or filming during labour.

Labour options

First stage:

  • Environment - Consider lights, music, furnishings, how long you will stay at home
  • Options - Consider if you want to be able to move about freely, monitoring, vaginal examinations, enemas, shaving
  • Pain management - Labour TENS, hypnobirthing, relaxation, mobility, breathing, bath / shower, birth pool, massage, homeopathic's, heat packs, gas and air, pethidine, epidural
  • Intervention - Consider hydration options if needed, monitoring options, types of induction and augmentation available, forceps or vauntuse, episiotomy, caesarean

Delivery:

Consider environment and atmosphere. Choice of positions, squatting, kneeling, supporting legs or stirrups, where the baby is placed immediately afterwards.
After delivery:
Consider your choices about cutting the cord, bathing, placenta delivery – natural or oxytocin injection, vitamin K for baby.

Postpartum:

Consider separation - where you would like your baby during the day and at night, any medications, feeding options, breast or bottle.
When you would like to go home, special needs for you and baby.
Please inform your caregivers of any special considerations such as diet, medications, disabilities, ethical or religious considerations.

Professional Services

Natural Birth professional services are provided at the Lotus Centre on Sydney's northern Beaches (Freshwater / North Manly)

Heather Greer is a Clinical Hypnotherapist & Counsellor, Energy Healer & Reiki Master, Ayurvedic & Yoga Therapist & Massage Therapist. Click here for Heather's profile.

Linda Krick is a Medical Herbalist & provides services in Naturopathic medicine, Nutritional medicine, Natural Fertility Management, Weight management & Women’s Health. Click here for Linda's profile.