If your labor starts with your water breaking and your contractions do not begin fairly quickly, your options for a completely natural labor without using medical intervention become few and far between. The reality is that most mothers will wind up in the hospital on pitocin within a few hours unless they are familiar with options to induce labor naturally.
The Problem with Pitocin after Your Water Breaks
One of the biggest challenges with introducing pitocin after your water breaks and there are no contractions yet is that the pain is likely to be greater. Contractions that go along with a labor augmented by pitocin are known to be more painful. Pitocin, unlike your body’s own oxytocin, does not cross the blood-brain barrier, so your brain does not get the signal to make endorphins, which are pain blockers.
In addition, your body has already lost the “cushion” provided by the sac around the baby’s head. So your baby’s head pressing directly on your cervix, along with the more painful pitocin-induced labor, makes labor more painful.
Acupressure Can Help to Stimulate Contractions
Since it also acts to stimulate labor, acupressure is another technique you can try to induce your labor naturally before resorting to pitocin. The pressure points Sp 6 and Hoku are commonly used to start contractions. These and other acupressure points may be even more effective to stimulate contractions if you combine them with frequent position changes and walking during labor.
Research shows that acupuncture after the mother’s water breaks significantly shortens labor and makes it less likely that pitocin will be used. If you do not have access to an acupuncturist during labor, then using acupressure is a good alternative.
If you have any questions about using acupressure points to induce your labor naturally after your water breaks, talk to a licensed acupuncturist.
Use of Nipple Stimulation Can Start Contractions after Water Breaks
When you breastfeed your baby, your body makes its own hormone, oxytocin, which in turn stimulates your uterus to contract. In the immediate postpartum period, the action of oxytocin via breastfeeding helps to prevent hemorrhage. However, nipple stimulation can also be used as a way to induce labor naturally.
If your water breaks and there is no sign of contractions, your body may need some nudging to get labor going. Nipple stimulation may be one of the most effective ways to start contractions since it uses oxytocin which is nature’s own hormones.
You can do nipple stimulation by using a breast pump or manually rolling your nipples and areola with your fingers. If you notice that the nipple stimulation brings on a contraction, rest during the contraction since there is no need to continue to stimulate your breasts then. If you notice that your contractions are coming three minutes apart for one minute in length, you should stop the nipple stimulation.
Herbs Can Be Used to Start Contractions after Water Breaks
Herbs or herbal tinctures such as blue and black cohosh can be used with or without other methods to induce labor. However, all herbs should be used under the supervision of a qualified professional since they can have unwanted side effects.
What to do if Your Care Provider Does Not Give You Any Other Options
An important thing to remember is that if your care provider is an obstetrician, he/she may be less familiar with how to induce labor naturally. That does not mean you cannot ask if you can try some of these methods, but it may mean that you need to do your research ahead of time so that you know how to use and apply these techniques appropriately. Birth doulas may be able to suggest several options for stimulating contractions after your water breaks as well as how to apply them.