What do midwives do, typically, to "induce" labor?

topic posted Fri, February 17, 2006 - 10:23 AM by  Nyn
As a doula, it happens occasionally that I have clients who "need" to be induced due to being 2 weeks past their due date or if waters have broken...
I realize midwives have a different model of care from that of hospital care, and am curious what a midwife would do to encourage labor.

I already am aware of acupuncture, sex, nipple stimulation, squats and lunges, being used...

what else?

Is cod liver oil ever used, or what about Cohosh? are they dangerous if the cervix still nedds to soften?

posted by:
offline Nyn
  • Unsu...

    Re: What do midwives do, typically, to "induce" labor?

    Sun, February 19, 2006 - 11:33 AM
    evening primrose oil, orally or topically on the cervix to help soften, or semen is said to help. Castor Oil- worked well for me...3 ounces in a few scrabbled eggs...didn't taste it, no horrible diarhea, only strong contractions 5 hours after ingesting, though I was already in labor, just trying to enhance it. Black and blue cohosh, maybe pulsatilla.

    I would avoid cytotec at all costs. It is NOT made for labor anbd even the manufacture had warned not to use it for labor. Very dangerous.
  • Re: What do midwives do, typically, to "induce" labor?

    Mon, February 20, 2006 - 10:06 PM
    heeheehee, the joke here is the best way for a midwife to induce a clients labor is to either a) schedule a hot date with her partner, or b) get two or more midwives in the same room and open a bottle of wine.
    • cute!

      But, ok, so, as a doula, I'd be hesitant to recommend Cohosh to a client, because I am not in charge of her health care. Same with castor oil.
      I guess it's different when you are a midwife and in charge of someone's actual "medical" care.

      How long do midwives typically "let" a client go overdue? In hospital, 2 weeks is the magic number.

      • Re: What do midwives do, typically, to "induce" labor?

        Tue, February 21, 2006 - 10:27 AM
        The midwives model of care ideally monitors the fulllest possible spectrum of maternal/fetal indicators in each given pregnancy to make holistic assesments rather than relying on standardized dates and formulas. Any intervention will be more or less appropriate in any given pregnancy. Any fixed formula that is based upon a limited range of variables is more apt to be inappropriate than wise. Individualized assessment of appropriate care is the cornerstone of the midwifery model (as opposed to the obstetricaal or medical model) of care.
        • Unfortunately licensing in some states can limit our ability to support informed choices on the part of the family for a post dates pregnancy. A midwife that I apprenticed with has 2 daughters, both came in her 44th week! I do believe that with supervised care, if mama and baby are fine, babes not too big, then s/he's just soakin up every last bit of womby-ness.
        • Hi Nichole,

          (Thanks, Steve - that was very well-put.) We would never recommend the same thing for everyeone. We also don't get as excited about overdue babies as hospitals do, especially because so many "post-date" inductions are not even term yet, and someone had the dates wrong.

          Our protocols in this state say that homebirth at 43+ weeks is contraindicated. If a mother is determined to have a homebrith we would recommend various things, including vigorous walking, lots of sex, nipple stimulation, warm baths, rocking in a rocking chair, blue and black cohosh used carefully, evening primrose oil, reflexology (this can work like gangbusters), massage from someone who knows prenatal bodywork, meditation, eat plenty of really great food and high-nutrition goodies (nothing which is too constipating), drink lots of water, and the good ole standby - castor oil. I think most midwives would also make darn sure the baby was really overdue before getting too aggressive with induction.

          Cytotec should NOT be used, including in the hospital. NOT.

          There are more things to try if a labor just isn't getting going, but most of those I listed are pretty benign if common sense is used.

          • I feel violated, and betrayed.. not by you GM

            Fri, March 3, 2006 - 1:11 PM

            I've been sitting here sobbing reading this. Though to his credit, Dr. Coleman did tell me I didn't have to do any of th interventions and that i could go home. I think what has me more upset is that I wasn't told that they generally don't go straight to the pit anymore and that they use 'miso' first. Had I known, I would have researched BEFORE going to the hospital, as obviously at the hosp i wasn't in the frame of mind or even the position to research it.

            I KNOW they placed at least 2 25mcg pills on my cervix about 4 hrs apart. I can't remember if they gave me more. poor Q's eyes were so swollen he had trouble looking out of them at me. This NEVER happened with ANY of my non-induced babies. They were worried about the placenta quitting at/near term because of my age and I think in combo w/my GD. I wish I had stuck to my guns, but even more I wish I had either found this somewhere prior to labor or been told it was a possiblity so I could research. Of course for my own part in this, I never expected the weird labor that I had w/this baby. I'm thanking the Lord and the Lady and the whole pantheon of aspects of the Source that we made it through this okay, w/no apparent damage. But, and this is a very big but, I'm wondering if we are both safe from any long term effects. One of the articles on this page discusses a malignant tumor and blames it on the cytotec... is that in my future now? Shouldn't they have told me since my mom DIED of LYMPHOMA???!!! is it only likely if I took it orally?

            The freakin Drug company warned against it's use this way and they stand to make boatloads of money off of this! Pit was the least of my worries... or should have been.

            Anybody has any info on LT effects of this and incidences of malignant tumors after vaginal application of this drug, PLEASE pm me or you can email me at

            Oh, and GM if you see this plz call me.

      • "induce" labor?

        Fri, June 16, 2006 - 10:29 AM
        i'm a lay pregnant girl who reads a lot, and i've been asking everybody (midwives, homeopaths, my friends, other mamas) about this- maybe just a worry of mine because we seem to like being united like this so much and i fear she won't want to come out. my midwife gives a homeopathic mix including black and blue cohosh for a month before expected due date, and even if you do it later, it's homeopathy, which means it's really safe. you can give it to your infant, even, though a lot of what i've read suggests passing it through mama via breastmilk. a tincture is a little different- i would be more hesitant about prescribing it, personally, though pretty confident about taking it at the right time.

        Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth, and Your Baby's First Year, by Miranda Castro is brilliant and chock full of excellent advice. i have a question too. i have two dates. on all my paperwork it's september 28th, but i've been told that october 6th may be likely because first babes typically stay in about 10 more days. might i wait two weeks from then?
  • I really like cotton root bark tincture, organic only, as cotton had really funky things put on it commercially, it works very nicely and it is safer than the Cohoshes, which can do strange things to blood pressure and bleeding afterwards. They need to be used mostly as a pre-labor preparation thing I think. I use castor oil on the belly, every ten minutes to rub up a contraction, then put a warm towel over the belly. I use this in conjunction with the cotton root bark tincture until labor is well established. Anne Frye's Holistic Midwifery Text has the dosage for cotton root bark in it. I only use these kinds of methods after really exploring any personal or emotional issues that might be that cause of late labor.

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