Schaffir drew on a study he published almost a decade ago in which he collected a variety of methods that women believed might be successful at inducing labor. Ten of the 11 methods he asked women about in this current study were among those reported in the previous survey.
Methods listed in the questionnaire included walking, exercise, sexual intercourse, nipple stimulation, masturbation, use of laxatives, use of enemas, ingestion of spicy food, ingestion of herbal preparations, acupuncture and starvation.
The researchers asked the women to report which of these methods, if any, they had tried during the seven days before giving birth with the express purpose of trying to trigger labor.
The survey also collected general demographic data and asked the women where they learned about these methods and whether they had discussed the techniques with a doctor.
Nearly half of the women a total of 99 did not use any unprescribed methods to initiate labor.
Among the 102 who did, 87 tried walking, 46 reported engaging in sexual intercourse, 22 ate spicy food and 15 performed nipple stimulation. Some women tried more than one method.
Starvation and enemas were not used at all among these women. Four women exercised, five used a laxative, two received acupuncture, one tried masturbation and one reported taking an herbal supplement.
Schaffir does not raise these issues with his patients, but he said that patients often bring up their ideas in conversations with him. Among the theories he has heard or read about in existing literature on the subject: Sex can ripen the cervix or lead to uterine contractions. Spicy food and laxatives create intestinal activity that could give the uterus a nudge. Starvation works by making a hungry baby escape the womb in search of food.
|Contact: Jonathan Schaffir|
Ohio State University