Give these med-free options a shot if you need a little help bringing bubba into the world…

Most women expect or hope to welcome their little bundle of joy into the world 38 to 40 weeks into their pregnancy. Indeed, for the most part, their labour should happen naturally without any intervention.

Notes Dr Dharshini Gopalakrishnakone, an ob-gyn with the Singapore Medical Group, “I firmly believe that letting nature take its course is best, [although] some patients may need a little help to get started.”

She adds that one in five labours nowadays are induced for various reasons. Most ob-gyns recommend it because continuing without medical interference may pose health risks for both mother and baby. Here are the expectant mums who may need to be induced:

* Overdue baby Dr Dharshini says that she will induce patients who are 10 days overdue. She explains that inducing labour prevents issues like babies outgrowing the protection of their mother’s placenta.

* No contractions even through water bag has been broken This is usually a warning sign that your foetus may be facing a potentially serious health issue. Once the water bag breaks, your little one may have an increased risk of infection, while your own blood pressure may worsen.

* Gestational diabetes Even if insulin is keeping your diabetes under control, inducing labour will save your baby from numerous complications.

“Once a patient is beyond 38 weeks and feeling very heavy, with no known complications in the pregnancy, she can attempt various natural methods [to induce labour] after discussing with her ob-gyn.”

Outside of these conditions, there are no added benefits to inducing labour. Dr Dharshini says she often encourages patients to try natural methods first before going the medical route.

“Once a patient is beyond 38 weeks and feeling very heavy, with no known complications in the pregnancy, she can attempt various natural methods [to induce labour] after discussing with her ob-gyn.”


Dr Dharshini cautions that you avoid overdoing any of the following suggestions as this might compromise the blood supply to your foetus.

​​​​​​​1. Taking long walks The rhythmic pressure of your baby’s head on your cervix stimulates the release of oxytocin — a hormone that brings about childbirth by regulating your contractions — as you stroll. Dr Dharshini says, “Simple walking exercises help babies to move down into your cervix.”

2. Membrane sweeping Your ob-gyn will use their gloved fingers to separate the amniotic sac from the uterine wall. Explaining that this is a normal procedure your doctor will carry out every week from 38 weeks, Dr Dharshini notes that this method has been successful in triggering natural labour in patients.

3. Nipple stimulation Stimulating your nipples, which releases oxytocin, can cause the uterus to contract.

4. Sex Yep, having orgasms can actually help induce labour! Just as with nipple stimulation, sex causes oxytocin to be released, which can start labour.

The incorrect use of any medicine or administering incorrect dosages can inflict harm on you and your foetus’s health.

In TCM, acupuncture and herbal tonics are two of the most common methods used to induce labour, explains physician Lim Lay Beng of YS Healthcare. As the incorrect use of herbal remedies can harm your and your foetus’s health, be sure to speak with a trained physician before trying these out.

5. Acupuncture Lim says that acupuncture can boost your uterus’ contractions, as well as speed up the ripening of your cervix by increasing the prostaglandin and oestrogen levels in the body. It can also reduce labour pain, shorten the birth process and even reduce bleeding from the uterus after birth! And if adequate pressure is applied ― for instance, during a massage — to the三阴交(san yin jiao), 至阴 (zhi yin) and 太冲(tai chong) acupressure points, you can actually go into labour.

6. Herbal tonics Chinese herbs like 红花 (hong hua), 益母草 (yi mu cao ― motherwort) and川牛膝 (chuan niu xi ― cyathula root) are known to induce labour. Lim advises that you see a TCM physician before consuming any Chinese herbs or supplements. This is because every herb has its own medical properties and safe-dose amounts, she adds, that will have to be tailored to your specific needs.

Dr Dharshini Gopalakrishnakone is an obstetrician-gynaecologist with Singapore Medical Group and Lim Lay Beng is a physician at YS Healthcare.

Photos: iStock

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