The third trimester of pregnancy culminates in labor, which marks the beginning of the process of childbirth. The onset of labor is signaled by regular uterine contractions. These contractions are accompanied by changes in the cervix that enable the easy passage of the baby out of the womb.
In certain cases, when labor does not start as expected, the obstetrician may decide to induce labor artificially. Although usually safe, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not recommend induction of labor before 39 weeks of gestation, except in case of a medical emergency. If, after 42 weeks, labor still has not started, the obstetrician will induce labor to avoid the risk of the placenta deteriorating.
Here are some commonly accepted aids to induce labor; it may be added, however, that none of these are medically accepted as being effective:
- Evening Primrose Oil: Evening Primrose Oil, or EPO, contains certain ingredients that help the body produce prostaglandins—the chemicals that bring about the changes in the cervix for delivery. Some women believe that applying EPO around the cervix in the last weeks of pregnancy helps to keep the cervix in a dilated state. Putting anything in the vagina, however, increases the risk of infections and doctors do not recommend such a practice.
- Blue and Black Cohosh: These two herbs, used together, are believed to help induce labor by increasing the uterine contractions. According to certain studies however, blue cohosh was found to be responsible for causing hemorrhages in the mother. It is also believed to have a damaging effect on the baby's heart. In any case, it is unwise for your spouse to try any labor inducing techniques without consulting her obstetrician first.
- Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is another option favored by women who wish to induce labor. It is said that the use of certain oils such as clary sage, added to the bath, may have the desired effect.
- Acupuncture: Stimulating trigger points in the body is supposed to help start labor. It is essential that your spouse discuss her plans with her obstetrician first.
- Massage: Many believe that a good massage can also hasten the onset of labor. Your spouse should hire the services of a qualified masseuse, but only after consulting her obstetrician.
Often however, the reason many women have delayed labor is due to their own anxiety. Helping your spouse relax may often be enough to start the process of labor.