Trying to speed up the inevitable

Is there anything keen mums-to-be can do to help get labour started?
Is there anything keen mums-to-be can do to help get labour started? Photo: Getty Images

Yes, I'm still with-child. That's how I've started most communication with people this week and I'm not even overdue yet.

At 39 weeks, we're definitely on baby watch though and Mr Greer asks the baby every night when we go to bed if this is the night he or she will pack up their things and enter our lives.

(He similarly asks me 'No baby?' when we wake up each day, as if I had just slipped out of bed, given birth to it, and slipped back into bed without waking him during the night. If only!)

Of course, I haven't been short of receiving advice in how to get this show on the road.

Whether it's suggestions of curry, bumpy car rides, or lots of sex - I've tried to keep some perspective and not get carried away with all these theories knowing baby will come when baby wants to come.

But I thought I'd look at what advice is out there in case there really are some things I can do to ensure that I avoid hugely overcooking the sprog, like I was.

(My poor mother! I was three weeks overdue, and came out of the sunroof the size of a six-week-old baby, my skin peeling because I was so overdone. Gulp!).

Here are some common theories (and please note, some of these are for your last weeks of pregnancy, NOT before! Talk to your healthcare professional before doing anything drastic):

Lots of sex


Mr Greer's eyes lit up when the midwife told us to go home and have lots of sex last week. Not only are orgasms thought to help with contractions starting, semen is believed to soften up the cervix tissue which should make the actual labouring part a bit easier on that part of the body.

Fair to say this is a pretty agreeable kind of duty to undertake and hardly a chore, so it's definitely a popular theory.


Everyone mentions eating a curry to allow the spiciness to get things flowing. I have two issues with this. 

One: curry farts/poos - it's common for women to poop during labour, but I'm damned if that's going to be a clear-the-room curry poo! Yick!

Two: heartburn! My least favourite friend of pregnancy was in full force when I had a curry the other night. I barely got any sleep that night and no amount of prescription antacid or Gaviscon could cool the burn. Never, ever again. Approach with caution, heartburn sufferers!

Other (nicer tasting and hopefully with fewer side effects) foods to try include pineapple and dates.

Walking/curb-walking/stair climbing

Walking is recommended to get things moving down there, with the help of gravity and the hip swaying. Curb walking (one foot up on the top, the other in the curb) has a similar theory to stair climbing in that the twisting of the pelvis gets baby into the right position and encourages it down.

Nipple stimulation

Fiddling the nips can make your body release oxytocin that can bring on contractions.  Be careful though, not only can the action itself hurt, it can make the contractions more intense apparently.

I've been pumping for colostrum so this definitely counts and if the added bonus means it gets things going elsewhere in the body, I'm all for that.


There are a couple of acupressure points (one between the webbing of your thumb and index finger, the other about 5cm above your ankle bone) that are thought to help bring on labour. Chat to a professional about it but this is something your partner can help with too.

Acupuncture is also something that some people have reported success with, if for nothing else than it is great for stress relief and this can be a stressful time!

Castor oil

Belch! Not really recommended by anyone but it is seen as something that the 'desperate' reach for. Taking castor oil is not only gross tasting (although you can mix it together with other things to mask the taste) but it has a long list of gross side effects. I'm not sure it's worth it - especially if you successfully start labouring, but feel like absolute mud the whole way through due to the side effects.

Evening Primrose Oil

You can take this orally or you can insert it where your baby will be making its exit when the big day arrives. It's thought to assist in the same way semen does. Health professionals seem to be split on the potential benefits, but it all depends on how much you want to believe that it might help I guess! 

Raspberry leaf tea/capsules

Again, this is recommended to 'condition' and soften the cervix. I hear the tea is gross and you have to drink a number of cups a day (which for a non-tea drinker like me would be a push and a half) but the capsules are an option. 

Wear your best undies

You know the theory, if you wear your best knickers, your waters are BOUND to break in them and ruin them. Ha!

Make plans

Always a good one! Make plans, book yourself in for a massage, haircut or special dinner and baby will be sure to interrupt the plans!


Worth a shot because even if it doesn't work, you'll be relaxed and have had a good massage. Awesome! There are various theories about how massage could assist including improving blood flow, and decreasing mum's stress levels so baby just slips out (Oh, if it was that simple...)

Warm bath

Much like a massage, a warm bath will relax your body which sometimes can be why baby prefers it better in than out. Would you want to leave that comfy place only to be greeted by a stressed out mumma?

Gravity (on all fours)

Recommended for those wanting to get bubs into the right position and encourage it to mosey on down. I find some poses I learnt in pregnancy yoga are good for this, also stretching out with your arms on a Swiss ball in front of you is good too.

Watch sad movies

My midwife recommended this to me this week. Apparently stirring up the emotions by being around other newborns and/or watching emotional movies helps to get the right hormones flowing through the body. This calls for an emergency session of The Notebook/Love Actually etc...

The main thing I'm keeping my focus on in the next few days and weeks is that it WILL come out. Even though right now it feels like it'll never happen, it is the one certainty in all of this... there is an end to this pregnancy. 

*NOTE: Please consult your health professional for advice. This post isn't intended to replace their recommendations.

- Essential Mums