Note: You should receive medical advice from your doctor before trying any of these methods. This article is not medical advice.
Due dates are just estimations. Our baby can come anywhere between the 39-42 weeks of your pregnancy, and some doctors say 38 weeks is reasonable as well! If you go past your due date, you might want to try one or more natural ways to induce labor.
By the time your 40th-week arrives, you probably feel over being pregnant. You’ve been pregnant for many months now, and you feel ready to meet your baby. Not to mention it’s really time to kick this heartburn and back pain to the curb.
Many women try natural ways to induce labor. There is no guarantee any of these will work; your body and baby has to be ready for these to work. You also need to know that trying to induce labor at home can increase your risk of needing a cesarean section.
However, your doctor might tell you that trying some of these tricks could be helpful to get things moving along the way that they should be moving. You should always talk to your doctor about your plans. Putting your baby at risk is not worth it.
11 Natural Ways to Induce Labor
Some of these things you might already do as it is. Some of them you might need to put more effort into
Walking, or any type of exercise can be useful to help induce labor. You need to do anything that helps to get your heart rate up. If you’ve exercised your entire pregnancy, this method might not work for you because your body is used to the increased heart rate.
Even if it doesn’t work, getting your blood pumping is a good thing. Plus, exercise helps to reduce stress, and chances are you have plenty of that in your body as you wait for your bundle to arrive.
2. Sexual Intercourse
Scientifically speaking, sex is the only natural way to induce labor that makes sense. Plus, it’s probably the funniest way to try to induce labor, and your partner won’t complain.
Sex releases oxytocin, which can help start uterine contractions when you have an orgasm. Pitocin is essentially a synthetic version of oxytocin, so why not for the original version of it?
Some say that semen also helps to soften the cervix because semen contains prostaglandins. That’s a similar hormone to the compounds that make cervical ripening medications, such as Cervidil.
The theory states that for this natural labor induction method to work, you need to have sex three times. Three ejaculations will contain the same amount of prostaglandins as Cervidil. Just make sure your water hasn’t broken yet. It’s not safe to have sex if it’s broken because you dramatically increase the risk of infection.
3. Nipple Stimulation
Some midwives recommend stimulating your nipples to induce labor. Doing so can cause your uterus to contract and might bring about labor. When you encourage your nipples, it causes oxytocin to be released, leading to the uterine contraction, which is the same process behind Pitocin.
If you pick to breastfeed your baby, the nipple stimulation will cause your uterus to contract and shrink back down to its original size. It can make the process faster. Also, oxytocin released during breastfeeding can make you feel sleepy and relaxed.
To stimulate your nipples, you or your partner can manually stimulate them, or you can use a breast pump. Some women pair 10 minutes of nipple stimulation with 10 minutes of fast-paced walking several times in an hour to jumpstart labor.
4. Eat Some Spicy Foods
Here is an old wives’ tale that probably won’t work, but if you like spicy foods, it might send you into labor. No studies connected this with inducing labor, but it might fun for those who regularly eat spicy foods.
If you suffer from horrible heartburn, it’s probably best to move on from this idea unless you like torture and suffering.
5. Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Midwives frequently recommend that their patients drink red raspberry leaf tea daily as your due date gets closer, starting around 37 weeks of pregnancy. This tea is said to tone and strengthen the uterus, preparing for labor.
If it doesn’t work, at least you’re staying hydrated, which is necessary during pregnancy!
6. Evening Primrose Oil
Some midwives also suggest that their patients take evening primrose oil, which is a homeopathic remedy. It acts as a cervical ripening agent, mimicking prostaglandins.
There aren’t any studies that indicate whether or not this truly works, but it doesn’t pose any dangers to you.
7. Eat LOTS of Pineapples
Do you love pineapples? If so, this might be for you, but it takes A LOT of pineapples. Fresh pineapple, the core, in particular, contains an enzyme called bromelain. It’s an enzyme that breaks down the proteins in tissue. It’s why your mouth develops sores if you overeat pineapple in one sitting.
The idea behind this natural induction method is that the bromelain will get to your cervix and breakdown the tissue, leading to the softening of the cervix. That helps to stimulate labor.
As you might imagine, no evidence supports this theory, and the chances of the bromelain making its way to your cervix are slim. Chances are you’ll end up with a massive case of heartburn for your efforts.
8. Eat Dates
Yes, this method seems a little strange and quite gross. An old wives’ tale suggests that women who ate six dates per day for four weeks were less likely to require a medical induction.
Does this work? Well, not all women have the stomach to handle all of those dates to find out.
The theory is that eating dates increases your cervical dilation and contributes to more spontaneous labors. Women who use this method are said to have lower use of Pitocin, and the average length of the first stage of labor was shorter.
If you’ve never given acupuncture a try, now is the time. Not only is it relaxing – seriously – but it stimulates the release of oxytocin in your body. Do you see a trend with some of these labor induction methods?
In parts of Asia, acupuncture has long been thought of as a natural labor induction. One study did suggest that acupuncture reduces the need for medical intervention needed to start labor. It’s not dangerous for you or your baby, so it is generally considered a safe induction method. If your body isn’t ready, nothing will happen, but you might leave feeling way more relaxed.
A lot of doctors believe that acupressure can start or restart labor. That thought process is why many salons will not give massages or pedicures to women after a certain point in their pregnancy. They don’t want to induce labor accidentally.
It’s best to speak to a trained acupressure professional. They can either guide to through the process of inducing labor yourself or do it for you. Even if it doesn’t work to induce labor, acupressure can help to reduce pain and discomfort that you might feel throughout your pregnancy and labor.
This might be why some women swear that going to the chiropractor helps induce labor. Not only does chiropractic care ensure your hips and body are aligned for labor and delivery, but those pressure points might help to encourage labor!
11. Membrane Stripping
This is NOT something that you can do at home, which is why it’s listed it last. Your doctor has to be comfortable stripping your membranes, but it works for thousands of women!
Membrane stripping is performed inside of a doctor’s office, and you don’t need to take any medication for it. Using a gloved finger, your doctor separates the amniotic sac from the area around your cervix.
As you might imagine, this process is uncomfortable, but it can work well. Membrane stripping releases hormones called prostaglandins, sending your body into labor. You won’t be a candidate if you have any vaginal infections at the time.
After you have your membranes stripped, don’t be surprised if you experience cramps and spotting. That’s normal, but you shouldn’t have any heavy bleeding. It does come with a risk of breaking your waters, which will lead to medical interventions and possibly a cesarean section.
Should I Wait for My Baby to Come Naturally?
It can be hard to wait for your baby to come naturally, but there are some advantages to doing so. Your body will eventually go into labor naturally, and that might be the route that you decide to take.
Here are some reasons that you might want to wait it out.
- Women who aren’t induced tend to have a quicker recovery. That means you might be able to come home sooner after childbirth, and you’ll feel more like yourself sooner after delivery.
- Full-term infants have benefits of staying in the womb longer, including a reduced risk of low blood sugar, jaundice, and improved breathing.
- You have a lower chance of medical interventions, which might increase your risk of having a cesarean section.
Should I Try Natural Ways to Induce Labor?
Always speak to your doctor before trying anything that might induce labor. Most of these methods are old wives’ tales or funny ideas from pregnant women who think that it worked. As long as you stay safe and follow recommendations, you can have fun trying these natural ways to induce labor, or you might decide just to wait it out.