WEDNESDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- Walking, sex, spicy foods
and nipple stimulation are among the techniques most commonly used
by pregnant women who want to induce labor, a new survey finds.
Other methods women reported trying include exercise,
acupuncture, masturbation, laxatives and herbal supplements,
according to a poll of 201 women conducted by Ohio State University
Just over half of the women surveyed said they'd tried some
method to jump-start labor. Women who attempted to induce labor
tended to be younger, first-time moms and pregnant for more than 39
Yet most of the women hadn't talked about what they were doing
with their doctor, and most said they got their advice about
inducing from family and friends, according to the study in the
June issue of the journal
While such attempts are unlikely to cause harm, lead researcher
Jonathan Schaffir said doctors should be aware that patients are
trying to take matters into their own hands. Little research
supports any of those methods, with the possible exception of
Nipple stimulation leads to the release of the hormone oxytocin,
which can cause uterine contractions.
"These contractions can be hard to control, and there's some potential downside in causing too many contractions," said Schaffir, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, in a university news release. "It's just not something I recommend because there is no established safe protocol."
So, put away the castor oil and hold the hot peppers on your
sandwich. Experts believe labor begins when the fetus produces
certain hormones -- something moms can't do all that much
"Obstetricians and midwives may want to offer some additional reassurance to make patients feel like they don't need to pursue these other techniques," he said.
The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more
labor and birth.