There Are A Few Ways Labor Can Be Encouraged, But Some Of Them Can Be Dangerous.
Will castor oil put you in labor, and if so is there any harm to the baby? -- Tywanda in Detroit, Michigan
The expert answers
Contrary to what you may have heard, castor oil or other bowel stimulants should not be used to provoke labor. While they can initiate contractions, they tend to produce significant abdominal discomfort and may cause dehydration and electrolyte disturbances that can endanger both mother and child. Having said that, here are a few things I recommend:
Walking: Through mechanisms not fully understood, walking can provoke or intensify contractions. The mechanism possibly involves the release of prostaglandins that are contained between the uterine wall and the bag of water (fetal membranes).
Unprotected intercourse: Semen contains prostaglandins. Their presence, combined with increased uterine activity after orgasm, can trigger labor.
Nipple stimulation: When a baby suckles, the stimulation of the nipple sends a neural impulse to the brain. This causes the release of a hormone (oxytocin) that causes milk letdown. The uterus has numerous receptors for oxytocin that, when stimulated, cause uterine contractions. You may get the same effect by gently rubbing your nipples with a warm, moist washcloth for 15 to 20 minutes. This can be repeated several times throughout the day.