Q&A: Old Wives' Tales and Labor

Dr. Elizabeth Pryor answers the question, Do old wives' tales for speeding up labor really work?

Question

Does walking help make labor approach faster? What about other old wives' tales? Do they work?

Answer

Many women believe walking helps and I have sent them walking in the mall to help bring on labor.

Another approach in making labor begin is sexual intercourse, believe it or not. There is a chemical release from the male that softens the cervix and prepares it for labor.

Old wives' tales include castor oil (which can get ugly), salsa or hot/spicy foods, and nipple stimulation.

Nipple stimulation could bring on contractions. A certain chemical is released from the brain that may stimulate labor. I do not recommend continuous nipple stimulation or stimulation over long periods of time because there is no way to regulate the release of the chemical and you may actually have too many contractions.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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