From acupuncture to MSG, what brings on contractions, what doesn't and what's dangerous
>>Massage Is it safe? Yes. “Massage can’t start labor, but massaging the back during a contraction can help relax and open the pelvic floor, allowing for an easier delivery,” says prenatal-massage therapist Denise Borrelli, Ph.D., a spokeswoman for the American Massage Therapists Association. There is no scientific evidence that so-called aromatherapy massage will work. And massaging the perineum—the area around the vagina—will not start labor, either, Dolan says.
>>Spicy foods/MSG Are they safe? Yes (though MSG should be limited). “Spicy foods are safe, but I’ve never seen that eating them [at term] can induce labor,” Degnan says.
WHAT MAY OR MAY NOT WORK
>>Breast stimulation Is it safe? Yes. “Breast stimulation results in the release of oxytocin, a hormone that brings about uterine contractions,” Dolan says. “But it’s impossible to say whether it can start labor.”
>>Castor oil Is it safe? No, because while small doses may actually be safe, women often ingest large amounts. The results can include dangerously precipitous labor and delivery, as well as diarrhea, which can quickly lead to dehydration. “Castor oil’s risks definitely outweigh any possible benefit,” Dolan says.
>>Primrose oil Is it safe? Yes. Primrose oil is a supplement containing a fatty acid that the body converts to prostaglandins. Taken orally or applied to the cervix, it can help soften the cervix. “You risk overstimulating the cervix or uterus, but this is unlikely,” Dolan says.
Only 5 percent of women deliver on their due date, according to the American College
of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.