One question that comes up for a lot of people at the end of pregnancy is the efficacy and safety of natural induction methods. Always remember, before attempting any induction method (natural or otherwise), you should have a conversation with your care provider about its safety and benefits/risks/alternatives for your specific situation!
This week, Evidence Based Birth hosted a webinar on three of the most popular natural induction techniques: acupressure/shiatzu/acupuncture, breast stimulation, and consuming castor oil. They reviewed the most up-to-date research about these methods and whether they're safe and effective. After watching the webinar, I created this summary for you.
A summary always leaves out important details, so I encourage you to check out this link as well for more information about these and other natural induction techniques
(NOTE: some have been found to be unsafe and are not recommended, so make sure you read each entry!)
And always remember to check with your care provider before attempting any induction technique!
Studies indicate that care from a licensed acupressurist or acupuncturist or may help promote cervical ripening.
Shiatzu treatment has been linked to less Pitocin use for labor induction.
Studies show that these techniques are NOT linked to adverse effects.
More high-quality studies that investigate a wider range of pressure points and other uses of these techniques would be helpful!
Breast stimulation was found to be effective for inducing women at term with a favorable cervix. For those without a favorable cervix, it may help with cervical ripening
Breast stimulation has been found to reduce postpartum hemorrhage.
Not recommended for those categorized as "high risk." Should only be done with the guidance of your care provider!
Studies indicate that castor oil is an effective natural induction method, especially for subsequent pregnancies.
No evidence linking castor oil use to adverse effects for baby.
Possible side effects of castor oil use: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
More higher-quality studies are needed!
I hope you enjoyed this quick summary of the evidence on these induction methods! Don't forget the best induction method: PATIENCE!
Hi, I'm Sara. I'm a childbirth educator and birth + postpartum doula serving Utah county. I'm a twin mom (plus one!), natural VBACer, and birth lover!