Risks and Precautions Before Trying To Induce Naturally
You may also want to check out these guides on
- Signs you are in labor
- Shortening your labor time
- 15 minutes that can change your newborn’s life
- Your Legal Rights in Childbirth
- The Ultimate Birth Plan Guide
- 10 Ways To Lower The Risks of Medical Induction
- Natural induction is only a helping hand – it’s usually gentle enough that it won’t bring on labor if your body isn’t ready. It’s not recommended for use before 40 weeks. If you do begin before then, chances are it won’t work anyway.
- You should do your own research on any natural induction method before trying it. Make sure you know the risks and are taking the correct amount of any herbal product and don’t overstrain yourself with labor inducing exercises.
- If you aren’t sure about naturally inducing, talk to your doctor. High risk and complicated pregnancies can increase natural induction risks.
- Don’t listen to people (friends, family or professionals) who flat out state that natural induction doesn’t work. Even in the medical profession, opinions are varied on methods that work or if any do work at all.
- Some of these methods are medically proven while others are just fun to try or anecdotal. Always take care when trying to naturally induce.
- A normal pregnancy lasts up to 42 weeks. Simply using generalised statements such as “Your baby is too big” or “You have possible high blood pressure” to force induction before then, greatly increases the risks. Make sure you do your research if you are facing a medical induction!
Good luck with natural induction – hopefully you’ll be meeting your gorgeous new addition very soon!
51 Ways to induce Labor Naturally
1. Waiting it Out – 99% of women will go into spontaneous labor by 42 weeks. Even if you’re 0% effaced, 0% dilated and baby is high, you can still dilate 6cm in an hour. When it’s gonna happen, it will happen!
2. Acupressure – There are pressure points in the shoulder well, webbing between thumb and forefinger, heel and small of back.
3. Aloe Vera – Aloe vera juice can cause preterm labor. However, taken at term, contractions are a good thing. However, make sure you do your research and are aware of possible side effects before trying this.
4. Balsamic Vinegar – Add a dash to your salad. Many types of vinegar can get things going, but like everything in pregnancy, use in moderation and do your own research before going down this path.
5. Bananas – Potassium is meant to help with muscle contractions so being low can offset labor. Bananas have plenty of potassium. Note that you should take them in moderation and NEVER take potassium supplements alone as they can be poisonous when taken incorrectly.
6. Basil – Throw some in your cooking or have it in a tea. As with most natural methods, fresh is best!
7. Birth Ball – Sitting on a Birth Ball can help baby move down into the pelvis and into the position for labor.
8. Black/Blue Cohosh – Taken in tea form is a common way to induce labor. Some midwives also use it during labor to increase slow contractions. There have been some studies claiming that it can have bad side effects for mother and/or baby however. Make sure you research properly AND talk to someone medically trained in their use first.
9. Borage seed oil – Meant to have similar effects to evening primrose oil – dilating and effacing the cervix.
10. Bouncing on birth/exercise ball – Spreading your legs as well as the moving up and down can help the baby move down into the birth canal.
11. Bumpy car ride – Sometimes the baby just needs a bit of a jiggle! Just don’t drive too far from the hospital…
12. Castor oil – Statistically speaking it only works on 57% of women and causes lovely things like diarrhoea and sometimes, vomiting. The theory is that the cramps in the bowel set off contractions. Opinion is still out on whether castor oil causes babies to pass meconium in the womb but a) most women using castor oil are overdue and b) babies that are overdue are more likely to pass meconium so you do the maths! WARNING: Please read the linked article before attempting this, and make sure you’re fully informed on the safe methods to induce with castor oil!
13. Chinese food – Some people have claimed this works a treat. Worth a try!
15. Coffee Potty/Steam – This is a wacky one! The theory is that if you steam a bowl of coffee then sit over it and let the steam go into your er… lady parts… this will induce labor. Although I don’t put much store by this, vaginal steams have been a method used for hundreds of years to improve fertility and relieve bad menstrual periods.
16. Crying or Laughing – Watch a sad movie, followed by a comedy! Both crying and laughing can release a range of hormones which can begin the labor process.
17. Dancing – Don’t do anything too drastic – pole dancing might be a bit much! But if you get in there and swing your hips around a lot, there’s a chance baby might think about coming out.
18. Dates – Six date fruit a day in the leadup to your estimated due date is meant to help with cervical dilation, according to one study. Bonus: The study indicated they can also give you a shorter labor.
19. Eggplant – Many people swear by eggplant parmigiana.
20. Evening primrose oil – Can be taken orally from 35 weeks and used internally (good idea to do this at night and use a panty liner) from 38 weeks. It’s meant to soften the cervix so that even if you do get induced, the doctor may be able to break your waters and not need any further intervention to bring on labor. Keep in mind that it can have a range of side effects, so make sure you’re aware of the risks first.
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21. Galloping – Some women claim that imitating a horse can help start labor. See video.
22. Glass of Wine – The slight effects of the alcohol are said to bring on labor, however remember that drinking during pregnancy is NOT recommended. You might want to check this with your doctor first.
23. Golden seal – Taken in tablet form is easiest. As it can be dangerous during pregnancy, if taken incorrectly, seek PROFESSIONAL advice first.
24. Inversions – These simple exercises can be done daily to help untwist your pelvis. Especially good if you’re experiencing prodromal (false) labor that just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
25. Kneeling on all fours – Kneel on all fours and swing the hips back and forth. Check out this great guide on pelvic tilts.
26. Labor Cake – This rich chocolate cake recipe is said to put mamas into labor because chocolate contains phenylethylamine which can help produce oxytocin and endorphins. Although there’s not much evidence to back this up as a way to induce labor, at least you’ll enjoy yourself while trying!
27. Left Foot to Left Ear – This is another wacky one, but who knows – the stretching your poor body does while trying to achieve this position may just be enough to give your uterus sympathy pains. Don’t attempt this unless you want to run the risk of pulling a muscle!
28. Licorice – Try to get the natural kind – it contains more licorice and usually less sugar. Like castor oil, some people claim that the slightly laxative effect can cause cramps in the bowel which lead to contractions.
29. Mandarin oil on heels – Or in a bath. A useful way to try and get things started, accompanied by a beautiful smell and some relaxation.
30. Massage – Find a massage therapist qualified to work with pregnant women. Many will know various points to massage to induce labor. This is why massage is not recommended during the early stages of pregnancy by an unqualified masseur.
32. Nipple stimulation – Needs to be done for approx an hour at a time. One recommendation is to use a wet washcloth for increased stimulation. Alternatively, try either a breast pump or borrowing a friend’s newborn baby (although you might want to be close friends!) For those “shocked” at this idea, remember that till just a few decades ago, wet nursing was a common and normal practice. Read more.
33. Olive Oil – Olive oil has a similar laxative effect to castor oil. Please do your research before taking any natural laxative to induce labor.
34. Oregano – Suitable as a tea or fresh in your cooking.
35. Orgasm – Orgasms cause contractions which is part of what feels so good. That’s why many women enjoy orgasms more during pregnancy! You can try this alone or with a partner… whatever you’re comfortable with.
36. Pineapple – Best taken fresh and raw. Statistically speaking, the chemicals which pineapple contain (bromelain ), which are said to start labor aren’t very high. So that means about 7 pineapples should put you into labor!
37. Quinine – Can aid the release of oxytocin. Dosage should be check with a professional first.
38. Raspberry leaf – Taken either as a tea or pill. Start at about 34 weeks – opinion is divided as to whether it will start labor, but it definitely strengthens the uterus, leading to a (hopefully) shorter labor, because each contraction can achieve more. Drinking large amounts can also increase contractions.
39. Relaxation excercises – Try some relaxing music and just lie back or even join a meditation class.
40. Sperm – If you feel up to sex, this is a good start towards getting ready for labor. The sperm helps soften and dilate the cervix.
41. Spicy food – A very well known labor starter! The reason it works may be because of the upset it causes to the digestive system which then upsets the uterus. Not highly recommended.
42. Squats – Doing a few of these each day often helps to move the baby down and into position.
43. Squaw Vine – Old remedy. Not sure how well it works.
44. Stretch and sweep of membranes – Your midwife or doctor can perform this simple procedure. A finger is inserted into the cervix and a gentle ‘sweep’ of the finger slightly separates the uterus wall and amniotic sac, sometimes leading to labor within hours or days. Some women say it’s an easy, painless procedure, others claim it can be very painful. How well it works can also depend on if you are very far dilated or not. Some women can have it done up to 5 times before seeing results.
45. Swimming – Relaxed swimming can help bring out the baby – both the water and the movement help. If you’re experiencing sciatica, SPD or PGP, the swimming can help with that, too.
46. Swinging on a swing – Similar to a bumpy car ride but probably a bit easier on mum.
47. Thyme Tea – Worth a try!
48. Visualisation exercises – Many women swear by these. Try making a recording of yourself talking about the baby moving down, preparing to be born, your cervix dilating or just imagine it in your head.
49. Walking – The bumping up and down can help the baby move into the birth canal. In fact, this is one of the few ways that most doctors agree on for starting labor.
50. Walking up/down stairs – More bumping up and down! The further lifting of the legs can help with moving the baby if walking doesn’t seem to.
51. Yoga – Many places offer special classes for all stages of pregnancy or you can purchase books, videos and classes online.
52. Orange juice and milk – Supposedly the combination of the milk’s high PH and the orange juice’s low PH induces labor. Sounds a bit iffy, but if you can stand the taste, give it a try.
53. Labor cookies – These spicy ginger and cinnamon cookies are another old wive’s tale handed down. That said, they taste great, so why not bake a batch?
54. Warm water – This one is unlikely to work but some mamas swear that drinking warm water has put them into labor. Warm water is very good for you though, so won’t hurt.
55. Castor Oil Belly Rub – Don’t want to drink it? Try a belly rub.
56. Hot Weather – Well, maybe. This study found a higher rate of babies born during heat spikes.
57. Arm Wrestling – Yes, really. Some people have found that arm wrestling brings on contractions. Like with everything, take care and only do this in moderation!
58. Milk and orange juice. You may need a strong stomach for this one, but many mamas claim it works!