Natural treatments, including acupuncture, botanical (herbal) medicines, homeopathic medicines and lifestyle interventions, can be used to induce or augment labour (increase uterine contractions to progress labour forward), most commonly after your due date has passed to prevent need for cesarean delivery (c-section), or for medical reasons determined by your midwife or physician.
Why might I choose to use natural induction methods rather than Pitocin® (synthetic oxytocin)?
Use of natural induction methods may be the preferred approach, particularly for women planning a natural childbirth, because it is focused on stimulating the body to begin (or increase) it’s natural process of labouring, as opposed to using a synthetic hormone to create contractions in an otherwise “unprepared” uterus.
Because the contractions resulting from natural induction methods are “your body’s own”, they are usually more gradual, less painful and easier to manage than those resulting from Pitocin® use.
Use of natural treatments throughout pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding also minimizes your baby’s in utero exposure to pharmaceuticals.
What types of treatments are used to induce labour?
A number of different treatments and approaches can be used, including:
- Homeopathic medicines
- Botanical (herbal) medicines
- Guided meditation and visualization exercises
- Sexual intercourse or breast stimulation
How do natural induction methods induce or augment labour?
Your body produces oxytocin, which triggers uterine contractions, naturally.
The two known mechanisms of natural induction methods are to stimulate your body to increase release of oxytocin (but incrementally, resulting in a more gentle response than Pitocin®), or by increasing muscular tone of the uterus.
Acupuncture specifically has been demonstrated to trigger cervical “ripening” (opening, softening).
Natural Labour Induction and Augmentation at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine
Natural labour induction and augmentation appointments are 60 to 90 minutes in duration. At your appointment, you will:
- Be thoroughly assessed to determine the most effective approach to successfully induce or augment your labour
- Receive an acupuncture treatment
- Discuss lifestyle interventions for inducing or augmenting labour
- Receive a prescription for safe to use botanical (herbal) medicines and homeopathic medicines
- Discuss whether follow-up acupuncture treatments will increase the probability of inducing labour
Are natural labour induction and augmentation appointments covered by O.H.I.P.?
O.H.I.P. does not pay for naturopathic medicine services, but as a government-regulated healthcare profession, services offered by naturopathic doctors, including natural labour induction and augmentation appointments provided at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine are covered by most extended healthcare plans.
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Smith CA, Crowther CA, Grant SJ. Acupuncture for induction of labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Aug 15;8:CD002962.
van den Berg I, Bosch JL, Jacobs B, Bouman I, Duvekot JJ, Hunink MG. Effectiveness of acupuncture-type interventions versus expectant management to correct breech presentation: a systematic review. Complement Ther Med. 2008 Apr;16(2):92-100.