Acupuncture and Pineapples: Myths about Bringing on Childbirth
The last few days of your pregnancy can be the most tiring. Your baby weighs more than ever, your back is aching and you may have difficulty eating, sleeping and breathing. If you are already past your due date, then chances are that you are looking for natural ways to jump-start labour.
Here are four alleged methods to induce labour that you have probably heard about — and the truth behind them.
Go for Acupuncture
Many pregnant women in Asia believe that acupuncture can boost contractions, as well as soften the cervix. The cervix is the bottom portion of your womb, which opens to support the passage of your baby during delivery.
Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to confirm that acupuncture helps to bring on labour. A study published in obstetrics journal BJOG showed that pregnant women past their due dates were no more likely to go into labour over the next 24 hours if they underwent acupuncture.
Spice Up Your Life
Some people think that spicy food brings on contractions by stimulating the digestive system. Others believe it boosts the production of prostaglandins, which are hormones that help to soften the cervix. However, there is no evidence that spicy food induces labour.
You’ve probably also heard the old wives’ tale about how eating pineapples may help to bring on labour. Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which is believed to soften the cervix. But, there is no scientific proof that this works.
“A lot of pregnant women in Singapore do not take pineapples in pregnancy because they believe that it causes cramps,” adds obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Tan Thiam Chye.
Get Physical…in Bed
Some childbirth professionals believe that sexual intercourse is an effective method of inducing labour, though not all healthcare professionals agree. According to proponents, semen contains prostaglandins, which soften the cervix; meanwhile nipple stimulation and orgasms release oxytocin, which causes womb contractions.
“Sex is a natural way of inducing labour but we also use medication,” says Dr Tan. “We admit women to hospital for induction of labour if they are past their due date because the risk of stillbirth increases after 40 weeks. The chances of the mother having a natural delivery also diminish as the size of the baby increases.”
Do avoid having sex if you have placenta previa, a condition where the placenta is positioned over the internal opening of the cervix. In such cases, penetrative intercourse may result in bleeding.
Light exercise such as walking and yoga may help the baby to move further down the birth canal and get into position for delivery.
“If my patient’s pregnancy lasts over 40 weeks, I usually encourage her to walk a lot because it helps to induce labour,” says Dr Tan.
However, avoid wearing yourself out as labour can be exhausting and can last for hours or days. Many expectant parents are eager to finally meet their little one. But remember that you will need to save your energy so you can focus on bringing a healthy baby into the world.