Midwives and naturopaths have used black and blue cohosh to induce labor for centuries. The combination of these herbs is often enough to get a slow labor moving a little faster or get a post term labor started. It is very important that you discuss these herbs with your doctor or midwife before using them.
What Is Cohosh?
Black cohosh and blue cohosh are two different plants. Used together in a tincture form, they are especially effective at inducing post term labor.
Blue cohosh is also known as papoose root. Native Americans were aware of this plant and used it to increase contractions or start labor. They collected the root of the blue cohosh from the wild in the autumn and dried it. Most people use it as a tincture, but you can also take it in capsule or tea form.
Blue cohosh does not increase contractions. It is an antispasmodic. Because it is an antispasmodic, women often use it when a miscarriage threatens. It relaxes the uterus and keeps it from contracting when it isn't time for birth. In much the same way, blue cohosh can be taken to help stop the hard Braxton Hicks contractions often referred to as false labor.
In the birth process, you can use blue cohosh to coordinate the uterine contractions and make them more effective.
Black cohosh is a member of the buttercup family. It is also called snakeroot. Like blue cohosh, practitioners use the roots of black cohosh. It is available in tincture, capsule, and tea. Black cohosh seems to work on the body in the same way as estrogen does, but research has not backed up this theory.
Using Black and Blue Cohosh to Induce Labor
These two herbs are most effective at inducing labor in a post term pregnancy when used together. This process will not normally begin labor if the uterus is not ready. You should not try to induce labor until beyond 40 weeks gestation. This is a precaution to ensure your baby is ready to be born.
Using black and blue cohosh to induce labor is especially effective if you are already having weak or irregular contractions. These two herbs work together to strengthen and regulate uterine contractions. Unlike conventional forms of induction, the herbs work with your body in a natural way. This keeps the labor moving along at a natural rate so that it isn't as likely to get overwhelming for the laboring mother.
Instructions for Use
The following instructions for using B and B tincture, or a black and blue cohosh tincture, are an example of how this combination is most commonly used. Inducing labor without the advice of your health care practitioner can be dangerous to both you and your baby and is not recommended. Please talk to your physician about any concerns or questions you have regarding pregnancy, labor and delivery.
- Get a good night's sleep.
- Early the next morning put 20 drops of B and B tincture in warm water and drink it.
- Make the same mixture and drink it every hour for five hours.
- Have a light lunch.
- Begin taking the mixture again every hour until dinnertime.
- If contractions have not begun, stop taking the tincture. Try again in three or four days.
- While taking the tincture, continue to be active. Walk around the house, go shopping at a nearby mall, or take a walk around the block. The more active you are, the better chance that the contractions will continue.
- Stimulating the nipples can also help strengthen contractions. You or your partner can do this or, if you are a nursing mom, nursing your child often during the day can help.
- A capsule of Evening Primrose oil can be opened and applied to the cervix for a few days before using the tincture. This should help "ripen" the cervix and increase the chances that the induction will be successful.
- Sexual intercourse can be a very effective way to induce labor while taking the tincture. The prostaglandins in semen help to soften the cervix.
Generally you won't be taking black and blue cohosh long enough to experience any side effects. Herbalists agree that these herbs are safe to take at 40 weeks gestation and will not harm your baby. There have been some concerns that blue cohosh could cause heart problems in a baby when used during pregnancy, however this was one isolated incident and there is no evidence that it was the blue cohosh that caused the problem.
If you plan to take herbs during your pregnancy, you should be aware of a few cautions. The FDA does not regulate businesses that sell herbs, so herbs purchased from different companies may be different in potency and purity. The herbs may contain preservatives or other chemicals as well. There is also some risk when taking herbs at higher doses, and there may also be interactions with other medications that you might be taking. Your physician or midwife should be involved if you are interested in using herbs to induce labor to lower the risk of adverse effects.
Everyone's body is different. There are many more natural ways to induce labor. Remember though, that often a little patience is all that is necessary. You should also remember to use caution when using herbs to induce labor. Be sure to consult your physician with any questions regarding pregnancy, labor and delivery. No article can substitute for the advice of your physician.