Your midwife should offer you a ‘sweep’ when your pregnancy has passed the expected due date in order to try and encourage the onset of labour. This is a procedure where the midwife performs a vaginal examination and uses her finger to separate the bag of waters from the wall of the uterus in order to release a surge of hormones. This can increase your chances of going into labour without induction; they can be very effective and often encourage labour to start within 24-48 hours.
This is something that should only be undertaken by a midwife or suitably trained health professional. Sweeps are safe and effective but can be a little uncomfortable and you may experience an increase in vaginal discharge and often lose a mucusy show which may have a small amount of blood in it.
There are a few other things you can try which some people believe help encourage labour to start:
- Long walks make sure you get enough rest in between!
- Foods such as Chilli, curry etc. which can give you an ‘upset stomach’ have been found to help. Fresh pineapple can have this effect and also contains the enzyme Bromelain which is thought to help soften/ripen the cervix.
- Making love and/or having an orgasm has been shown to increase the levels of oxytocin in your body which is the hormone which stimulates contractions.
- Nipple Stimulation gentle rubbing, rolling or sucking of the nipples and areola (area surrounding nipple) is also proven to increase oxytocin and may help to stimulate contractions.
- Accupuncture / Reflexology and other alternative therapies can be useful in preparing your body and encouraging labour. Always make sure you visit a qualified/approved therapist and they are aware you are pregnant.