It is important that you talk to your health care provider and do your research prior to using herbs to induce labor. Herbs for labor induction can be safe if you use caution and work with a professional who is knowledgeable about herbs.
Can Herbs Stimulate Labor?
Certain herbs are believed to help induce labor, which is why it's so important to be careful what you ingest or put on your skin during pregnancy. Herbs are like any other medications and there may be circumstances where they are not safe and you should keep in mind that they do not work the same for everyone.
Herbs for labor induction can be a good natural choice when used correctly. Benefits of herbs as a labor stimulant include:
- Usually less invasive than other induction methods such as a Pitocin intravenously.
- Allows you to stay more in charge of your labor. This point is especially true of women who are highly knowledgeable about herbs and can administer their own herbal medicines.
- Some herbs can leave your system quicker than certain modern medicines.
- Less painful than some medical inductions.
A Connection to the Past
On a more organic level, herb use connects you with the women of the past. For generations, herbal medicines have been used as remedies, treatments, and emotional healers. Many women feel that herb use connects them spiritually or physically to our earth, which is often a much calmer and nicer place to be compared with a sterile and sometimes cold modern medical system. Herbs can be grown organically and are healthier for the planet than the mass production of modern medicines in a factory and lab, which is very important to the sustainable-minded individual.
Who Should You Ask About Herbs?
Midwives, aromatherapists, herbalists, acupuncturists, doctors, registered nurses and holistic healers are some of the professionals who may be able to advise on how to use herbs safely. Many people think that only holistic healers use and know about herbs but really there are many people available that can discuss the benefits and safety of herbs with you.
Specific Herbs to Induce Labor
When using herbs to help induce labor, you should only use organic. You will typically use an herbal tincture which is a concentrated, liquid herbal extract that is taken orally. You fill a dropper with the tincture and drip the recommended number of drops into your mouth, under your tongue. You will keep it in your mouth for five seconds and then you will swallow. Infusing tincture to your tea may also be another option as well. Tinctures can be found online, at health and vitamin stores or at the drug store. Prior to using any of the following herbs, always consult your health care provider first.
Black and Blue Cohosh
Black and blue cohosh are commonly used together to help induce labor. It is recommended that black and blue cohosh be taken only when you are at term with your pregnancy (40th week) and shouldn't be taken before. They are the most well-known herbs for inducing labor. A common dosage example is about 15 drops of tincture is placed under your tongue or it could be added to tea as well.
Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf is an herb that is commonly infused in tea. It is thought to help improve the strength and effectiveness of your contractions during labor. This, in turn, may actually help reduce the length of time spent in labor.
Motherwort is used to help keep balance during labor. If your contractions are irregular, motherwort may help them become more regular and productive. This herb can be taken in a tincture or infused in a tea as well.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is used to prepare the cervix for labor. It is thought that it may help ripen your cervix and shorten the duration of labor. This herb is sold in capsules that are taken orally or inserted vaginally.
Talk to a Professional
The best way to find out how to use herbs to induce labor is to talk with a professional. It's not safe to use an herbal remedy without professional advice, especially during pregnancy. You can absolutely learn to use herbs and natural medicines at home, but it takes research and consultations with professionals to do this safely. The following are must-have resources to learn more about herbal use and the holistic approach.
- Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Years by Susun S. Weed: A favorite and now classic book among many involved in birth and women's health. Full of helpful information and herbal recipes for healing, pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
- The American Herbal Association: Useful information about all sorts of herbal topics and beautiful photos.
- The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy: Helps you understand aromatherapy and find an aromatherapist.
- National Directories Listing for Holistic Medicine: Helps with finding practitioners who treat with herbs.
Always practice safety first, especially when deciding to use medication (herbs or others) during pregnancy and labor. The largest problem with natural or holistic medicine is that people don't always take it as seriously as they do a prescription or even an over-the-counter drug. Holistic medicines like essential oils, plant essences, massage, acupuncture, and herbs can be wonderfully useful but can also be just as dangerous and have as many side effects as consumer medications.
Safety Precautions With Herbs
A few herb safety precautions include:
- Always research herbs before use. Research includes your own reading, talking with a professional in the herb field, and talking with your health care provider.
- If you don't have herb experience, never try to medicate yourself. Just like you would never self-dose with a prescription, you should never self-dose with herbs.
- Do not use recipes for herbs that you find on the internet. Again, talk with a professional or use a highly recommended herbal medicine book written by someone in the field.
- Never use herbs for induction during pregnancy until your actual due date has arrived. In fact, it's even better to wait for a week past your due date.
- Even though this is about inducing labor, it should be said that herbs (or any other medications) should not be taken during the first trimester of pregnancy unless indicated by your health care provider.
More Research Is Needed
Again, always proceed with caution when using herbs for any aspect of your pregnancy. Keep in mind that more research is needed on the safety and effectiveness of these herbs to determine if they actually do help with your pregnancy and labor.