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Before carrying out an amniotomy, the doctor will ensure that the baby is head-down and that the procedure is safe for both the woman and the baby. Most women will not need an amniotomy to induce labor. However, it is usually safe and provides an alternative or additional option to using medication. An amniotomy may not be safe for every woman. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ACOG recommend against a woman having an amniotomy when her labor is progressing normally, and the baby appears to be in good health. Apart from an amniotomy, doctors can induce labor by using a catheter to dilate the cervix or by prescribing medication, such as Pitocin.
The World Health Organization WHO say that attempts to induce labor may be harmful if there are no medical reasons to justify them.
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This includes efforts to speed up the water breaking. Allowing a woman to go into labor naturally can lower the risk of complications and minimize the likelihood of unwanted labor interventions, such as cesarean deliveries. Women whose doctors recommend breaking their water should ask questions about the risks and benefits and get clear details about how this might affect their options during labor.
Any intervention to induce labor will present benefits and risks. For some people , the risks of remaining pregnant may be greater than the risks of inducing labor. For others, it is safer to wait. The end of pregnancy can be exhausting. People believe that there are many ways to induce labor, from eating spicy food to going for long walks.
There is little evidence to support most of these ideas.
However, the following methods may safely help to induce labor, if the woman's body is ready. Women should only consider using these techniques to encourage the natural onset of labor once the pregnancy has reached full term. They should also confirm first with a doctor that their pregnancy is low risk.
Having sex, particularly vaginal penetration, may help to start labor. It is not clear whether this is due to hormonal changes, physical stimulation, or something else. A study found a link between having sex during the last week of pregnancy and going into labor. Women whose water has already broken should not have sex as this can increase the risk of infection. Nipple stimulation may be a natural way to get the body to release oxytocin , a hormone that plays a key role in both labor and breast-feeding.
Learn more about how nipple stimulation can induce labor. A small study asked women to eat six dates per day during the last 4 weeks of their pregnancy. The researchers found that 96 percent of the women who ate dates had spontaneous labor, compared to 79 percent of those who did not. The women who ate dates also had greater dilation of their cervix during labor.
Natural methods that do not expose the baby to new chemicals tend to be the safest.
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These include having sex or stimulating the nipples. Nutritional and herbal remedies can be dangerous, especially if a woman eats large quantities of herbs or is not aware of the possible side effects. Any food that a woman consumes during labor can affect the baby, so it is essential to talk to a doctor before trying any herbal or dietary remedies. Some women try to induce labor with intense physical activity, such as playing a sport.
Exercise is generally safe during pregnancy, although there is little evidence to suggest that it can induce labor. Women who have not exercised during their pregnancy should not begin an intense exercise regimen at this late stage. It is also vital to avoid falling or doing anything that could impact on the abdomen.
The last few weeks of pregnancy can be challenging.
Many women who are giving birth for the first time will go past their due date. This may be worrying, but it is common and is not likely to harm the baby. Almost all women eventually go into labor on their own. While the waiting can be tough, it is generally safest to wait for the natural onset of labor.
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A doctor will be able to provide advice for each individual. Women with specific risk factors, such as hypertension or gestational diabetes , may need a doctor to induce their labor. Women may also need a labor induction if there are any signs that the baby is distressed. In such cases, inducing labor safely may increase the likelihood of vaginal birth and a healthy baby. Women should discuss their concerns with their doctor and ask them to explain the benefits and risks of each option. Women should also be aware of what to expect during the onset of labor, and how to get hold of their doctor if they suspect that they might be in labor.
Article last reviewed by Fri 13 July All references are available in the References tab. Al-Kuran, O. The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery [Abstract]. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology , 31 1 , 29— Amis, D. Healthy birth practice 1: Let labor begin on its own. The Journal of Perinatal Education , 24 4 , — Atrian, M. The association of sexual intercourse during pregnancy with labor onset.
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Intrauterine infection chorioamnionitis. Preterm premature labor and birth: Resource overview.
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WHO recommendations for induction of labor. MLA Villines, Zawn. MediLexicon, Intl. APA Villines, Z. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.
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