A lady on the Conundrum website, which is connected to Mahalo.com asked what to do that would naturally induce labor for her baby. Her question reminded me of an interesting book I read 23 years ago regarding the Bradley method of natural childbirth. It was created in the 1970's, and for some reason was never as popular as Lamaze. I had taken a full Lamaze class the year before in preparation for being my friend's birth coach. I also took a full Bradley course after I read the book. One of the things that stuck in my mind after all these years is Dr. Bradley's opinion of medicine not being an exact science. Every "body" is different. I loved him for saying that. I knew it intuitively to be true. I didn't hear any other medical professionals admitting that fact.
There was a drawing in the book of apples falling from a tree. They fall when they are ripe. They all fall from the same tree. They don't all fall at the same time. Dr. Bradley postulated that since people are different, any time within the two weeks before the projected due date and two weeks after the projected due date can be considered normal, especially since many people can't even pinpoint the exact date of conception. Therefore, if your baby still hasn't come after three weeks, it's not so much cause for alarm, you are really only 1 week late, not three.
I had a sister-in-law who had a very progressive doctor. Rather than shooting her with artificial drugs to induce the labor he allowed her to come to term naturally. By the time she had her third baby he noted it was normal for her to go three weeks past her projected due date. All of her children had come on that schedule, none of them had any defects. That was about 20 to 25 years ago, before mothers were subjected to three dimensional all color ultrasounds. In some ways medicine was better. In this day she probably couldn't have gotten her insurance to cover such a gamble. And yet I am of the opinion that the cost of bringing a baby prematurely into this world via c-section or Cesarean is higher than the cost of waiting.
Even at the time, 23 years ago, most of my friends were at the hospital, on labor inducing drugs one day after the due date. Most of them also asked for and received pain killers. I can not answer to what is available now, I can only report of the 10 or so mothers I knew giving birth at the time, not one had a "good" experience with pain killers. Without exception, 100% of them reported that the drugs made them feel unable to move, yet did not block the pain. It was the worst of both worlds. Unable to move they felt unable to participate in the birth of their own child. Once felt she couldn't even lift her head to see what was going on, yet she still felt a lot of pain.
The Lamaze method teaches participants to focus on something and breathe through the pain. It is a good idea to breathe through pain of any kind, as tensing increases pain and constricts the body. The Bradley method also encourages rhythmic breathing, however it suggesting the woman focus on something inside. Frankly I think that's a personality thing. My friend at the time she gave birth was in too much pain to remember to focus or do the breathing. Her baby got born anyway. It was an intensely fast first birth. If you have been practicing yoga or some kind of meditation in the years before getting pregnant, those two things will stand you in good stead.
Another thing that will affect you is your own person feelings about pain. Some women have a higher tolerance than others. My friend thought she sprained her foot and was amazed to learn at the doctor's office she had actually broken it in three places! On the other hand, I remember once being sure I had a root canal I was in so much pain over my tooth, my dentist found a teeny tiny cavity. He remarked, "You sure are sensitive!" I guess I am.
Another thing your doctor probably won't mention is your own beliefs about childbirth will affect your experience. IF you view it as beautiful, natural and mystical, something women have been doing successfully all over the world for years, you won't require as much medication as someone who sees it as a medical procedure for a doctor to take care of. I have met more than one woman who would prefer to be knocked out cold for the duration.
To induce labor naturally I have heard walking is good. It is safer than running. Staying in shape in general makes childbirth easier. Giving birth takes strength, so doing it while you are young and fit makes it easier. Some gyms and yoga clubs are reluctant to accept pregnant women because they don't want to be responsible for injuries. I asked my doctor what she thought about exercise. She said it wasn't a time to overtax myself, but there was no reason not to continue my regular routine if it didn't bother me. Translation: don't use pregnancy as an excuse to give up working out, you'll be sorry at the end of nine months when your poor atrophied muscles are trying to do their job.
Also, eat as well as you can. Eat whole and nutritious foods. Don't count on a multi vitamin to give what food ought to provide. The body doesn't process supplements as easily as it digests food. A well fed, fit body is going to handle childbirth with more ease than an overweight, out of shape, tired body. Pregnancy does strain the body. Do what you can from where you are with what you have to make your child's entry into this world as nice as possible.