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Good Question: Is There A Natural Way To Induce Labor?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
Heather Brown loves to put her innate curiosity to work to answer yo...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Over the past several months of answering viewer’s ‘Good Questions’, you’ve watched my belly grow.

So, now that I’m closing in on end of this journey, I thought it appropriate to ask: Are there any natural tricks to inducing labor?

According to father-of-three, Chris Shaffer, “It just takes a little sauerkraut and that baby will come right out.”

But, some of the brand-new mothers at the Amma Parenting Center had a few more ideas to try.

“I kept walking every day,” Breann Wozniak, mother to four-week-old Willa, said. “I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, but the day before I was doing jumping in my aerobics class.”

“You try spicy foods, you try to get intimate,” Kathryn Green, mother to eight-week-old Fisher, said. 

She ate lots of Mexican and jalapenos to little success. Fisher went all the way to 41 weeks.

There are so many old wives tales and so many tricks mothers-to-be want to believe, but University of Minnesota Physicians certified nurse midwife Ann Forster Page says it just comes down to something special between mother and baby.

“There is still a mystery, magic, something that happens that we don’t know,” she said.

But we still asked her opinion on several of the stories we’ve heard.

Castor oil:  “There was one study, but really the bigger studies don’t show good benefit,” she said.  “And, that can be tough because there is a serious risk of dehydration.”

Acupuncture: “There is some evidence behind it, but that would be started earlier after a succession of visits, but not just a one-time visit to get it going.”

Sex: “There are prostaglandins in semen, but it doesn’t have good evidence behind really starting labor. It might soften your cervix and start opening, but not initiate labor.”

Spicy foods (and pineapple): “You’d have to eat so much to irritate the bowel enough to have any reaction,” she said. “That smooth muscle is next to the smooth muscle of the uterine muscle. If you irritate it, you can get some contractions going, but it’s not going to start labor.”

Forster Page says evidence shows not much out there really works to trick your body.

In fact, she says spontaneous labor is the healthiest thing for mom and baby. 

So, when women come in at 39 weeks telling her they can’t go another day, she listens with a compassionate ear and tells them, “You should stay healthy and active and know that it will end someday.”

And, as all of the moms who’ve come before me say, this time will be a distant memory soon.

“As soon as they arrive and you see their little face, it’s totally worth it,” Green said.

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