Do You Need To Help Bring On Labour?

How safe is chemical induction of labour? Should you induce labour at home and can that help you to avoid synthetic hormonal induction?

Do You Need To Help Bring On Labour?

When should I start taking evening primrose oil, should I take it orally or vaginally, when should I start eating dates, where can I buy fresh pineapples, how much raspberry leaf tea, is black / blue cohosh safe, should I have my membranes stripped, did castor oil work for you? These and many other questions haunt the social media pregnancy pages, and they all show one thing. A fundamental lack of trust in our bodies.

Our bodies are exceptionally good at pregnancy. Without any effort from our conscious brains, the majority of pregnancies are conceived. Whole, strong, healthy babies are grown from microscopic cells, and yet somehow or other we’ve come to a place in time where we genuinely believe our bodies completely fail when it comes to birth.

Why don’t women trust their bodies to know when it is time for labour? Possibly it’s because one in four births are induced. When a first time mother is induced she has a 50% chance of a caesarean, and one of the main reasons for caesareans is the dreaded FAILURE TO PROGRESS.

So it is very plainly the result of the obstetric over management during pregnancy, labour, and birth, that has completely changed the way women feel, and act, in the lead up to birth. Obstetric management of birth has created the way we view pregnancy and labour, without ever being questioned. 

It is believed that the rate of stillbirth goes up after 41 weeks, however despite all the inductions that are currently  happening, the stillbirth rate has not been reduced. It remains steady and has for some years now. What keeps rising however, is the rates of induction and caesarean.

According to the The Unnecessarean

”A graph from 1987 statistics ( Eden, Sefert ) shows:

  • 6/1000 at 38 weeks
  • 2/1000 at 40 weeks
  • 2.3/1000 at 41 weeks
  • 3/1000 at 42 weeks
  • 4/1000 at 43 weeks
  • 7/1000 at 44 weeks”

This shows us that stillbirth is more common at 38 weeks, than at 42, or even 43, and between 38 and 44 weeks there is very little difference statistically. Despite this a huge number of inductions occur, many before governing obstetric bodies (such as ACOG or RANZCOG) even consider a pregnancy postdate,.

And more from The Unnecessarean

”A large study done by Weinstein, et al. , compared nearly 1,800 reliably dated post-term pregnancies with a matched group of on-time deliveries ( between 37 and 41 weeks ). The outcomes were surprising. Perinatal mortality was similar in both groups ( 0.56 / 1000 in the post-term and 0.75 / 1000 in the on-time group ). The rates of meconium, shoulder dystocia, and cesarean were almost identical. What was most interesting, however, was that the rates of fetal distress, instrumental delivery and low Apgar scores were actually lower in the post-term group than in the on-time group.”

So we need to start questioning the push for induction that comes with standard obstetric care. We also need to start questioning why women are so fearful they will not labour, and why they feel such immense pressure to give birth within a certain timeframe, one that has no basis in their health or their baby’s wellbeing. Once again we return to the trust issue. Not only do women not trust their bodies, but they don’t trust their care providers.

To avoid pressure for chemical induction, women will try just about anything. Some things ineffective but harmless, and other things that are definitely NOT safe, such as castor oil or cohosh. At the end of the day, when as many as 50% of inductions using powerful synthetic hormones result in Failure To Progress, we have to wonder how much curry and a little bit of private adult action can really do.

When an induction works (be it with pineapple or syntocinon / pitocin) it has little to do with the induction and everything to do with the readiness of the woman’s body and baby for birth. No matter what women do, no matter what doctors do, babies and uteruses, can outsmart both. The only thing that can bring out a baby before everything is ready, is either premature labour (and no one thinks that’s good!) or a scalpel (which is only good when it’s truly necessary).

Sadly we have come to view our bodies as faulty, rather than the overuse of extremely strong synthetic hormones. That’s understandable when we are raised not to question authority, and told to view surgeons as authority figures, but the time has come for women to realise that the surgeons are NOT the people who wield the power here. The people with the power are the pregnant women, for without us, surgeons would all be unemployed!

So what can women do to find trust at the end of pregnancy? 

Firstly:  We can hire care providers that we trust, not confusing smiling and friendly care providers with those who respect us, respect birth, and want to provide us with the highest quality, evidence based care, and complete bodily integrity.

What To Ask A Potential Care Provider

Secondly: We can make an END OF PREGNANCY PLAN, to accompany the birth plan. By the end of pregnancy women are tired, uncomfortable, and ready to meet their babies. The discomfort of late pregnancy can make us vulnerable to the suggestion of chemical labour induction, so having a plan for how to manage it all can really help keep us on track.

The DOs and DON’Ts Of Waiting For Baby

No one has ever enrolled their belly in kindergarten. Women ALWAYS go into labour, and babies are born. Every single time a woman tries something to help her labour and it doesn’t work, a small piece of her loses faith. Conversely, when an induction works (be it medical or at home) the credit is given to the method of induction, and not the woman herself!  It’s hard to trust our bodies when so many of us are induced, and have caesareans, but this only makes it even more important to leave the dates on the shelf next to the pineapple, and just take the last days in your stride ….. or waddle.


bottoe of castor oil on window will in sunlight
Castor oil induction – not for the faint hearted
By Pete Markham from Loretto, USA (It looks so harmless) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Dos And Don’ts of Waiting For Baby

Are Vaginal Exams Accurate

Don’t Become A Birth Activist In Labour

Dignity In Birth Is Essential

Do In Pushing – It’s Not A VBAC Plan

End The Denial Of Obstetric Violence


2 Responses to "Do You Need To Help Bring On Labour?"

  1. Raya  18 April, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    I wouldn’t tell people that cohosh and castor oil are dangerous. If the dosage is being monitored by a midwife, they are safer than a medical induction. I was very against being induced, but in the end I chose to because of changes in my baby’s health. When the baby is no longer thriving in the uterus, it is best to get baby out. I used cohosh and castor oil with dosages given to me by my midwife. I researched everything on my own before going through with it. I guess if folks are just gunna guzzle the stuff it would be dangerous, but in the right circumstance they can be the safest option, and totally called for.

    • MHeket
      MHeket  27 April, 2017 at 9:37 pm

      That’s the problem though. There are very few midwives with herbal knowledge sufficient to advise on the dosage, as well as the extra caution necessary during an induction. I’m glad it worked for you! You’re right when you say medical induction isn’t safe, and sadly many women don’t have choices like you did.


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