A study has found that substantial number of women use unprescribed methods to induce labor. Most of them said they tried walking, having sex, eating spicy food or stimulating their nipples to hasten birth near the end of their pregnancies.
The survey at a Midwestern hospital conducted on 201 women found 102, or 50.7 percent, used these or other methods to try to bring on labour.
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 labour. 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 labour matters into their own hands.
Jonathan Schaffir, associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, said that though the exact mechanism of labour initiation remains unknown, it appears that the process begins when the fetus produces certain hormones.
"So despite all of these women trying to go into labour and end their pregnancies, it winds up mostly being something moms have no control over," he said.
"Obstetricians and midwives may want to offer some additional reassurance to make patients feel like they don't need to pursue these other techniques," he added.
The study is published in the June issue of the journal Birth.