COLUMBUS, Ohio More than half of the women in a recently published survey reported that near the end of their pregnancies, they took it upon themselves to try to induce labor, mostly by walking, having sex, eating spicy food or stimulating their nipples.
Of the 201 women who responded to the survey at a Midwestern hospital, 102, or 50.7 percent, used these or other unprescribed methods to try to bring on labor. Other techniques they tried included exercise, laxative use, acupuncture, masturbation and herbal supplementation.
Women who tried these techniques tended to be younger, having their first baby and pregnant beyond 39 weeks.
Most women reported that their family and friends were the most common sources of information about the potential for such methods to induce labor. Fewer than half of the women who used these methods talked about it with a doctor.
Even though most of their efforts were unlikely to cause harm, the lead researcher says clinicians should probably be aware that their patients might be trying to take labor matters into their own hands.
He also said that though the exact mechanism of labor initiation remains unknown, it appears that the process begins when certain hormones are produced by the fetus.
"So despite all of these women trying to go into labor and end their pregnancies, it winds up mostly being something moms have no control over," said Jonathan Schaffir, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.
"Obstetricians and midwives may want to offer some additional reassurance to make patients feel like they don't need to pursue these other techniques."
The study is published in the June issue of the journal Birth.
The researchers distributed questionnaires over a four-month period in 2008 to women who were still hospitalized after giving birth. Eligible respondents were women over 18
|Contact: Jonathan Schaffir|
Ohio State University