12 Ways You Can Naturally Induce Labor

Pregnant woman sitting on grass, legs crossed, holding her pregnant belly.

12 Ways You Can Naturally Induce Labor

As you’re approaching your due date, you’re becoming more and more ready and anxious to meet your little one. Your back is aching, your feet are sore, and most of all you’re so excited to finally see the sweet little face you’ve been dreaming about in person. And now that you’re almost at the finish line, you may be thinking of ways to naturally induce labor or be tempted to schedule an induction.

Medical Inductions

Scheduling an induction can be tempting since you can plan exactly what day you get to meet your baby and make it sooner rather than later. This is why we call it “the seduction of induction.” However, we’ve seen that unnecessary interventions can pose unnecessary risks. The major one being a C-section.

Of course there are times when inductions are necessary for the health and well-being of mother and baby, but the majority of inductions scheduled nowadays are elective. I believe that babies come when they are ready, but if you are planning on having a hospital birth and your doctor is not allowing you to go too far past your due date (most doctors schedule inductions at or just after 41 weeks), you may want to do a few things to try to get your body ready and get labor going.

FYI: I’d like to add that new research shows that babies are healthiest when they stay in the womb until at least 39 weeks, so I don’t recommend trying these natural induction methods until you have reached full term or are past your due date.

Here are 12 things that you can do yourself to induce labor naturally.

1. Nipple Stimulation

Out of all the ways to induce labor at home, nipple stimulation is one of the most reliable options. It helps with the release of oxytocin, which is the hormone that causes your uterus to contract. (Oxytocin is also known as the love hormone since it’s released when you feel in love. 🙂 ) Do not try nipple stimulation until you have reached or have passed your due date. If you are at that point and you want to try nipple stimulation to bring on labor, there are a few ways to do it:

  1. You can roll or rub your nipples with your fingers. You want it to mimic the suckling of a baby so you will stimulate one breast for 5 minutes, then take a break for about 15 minutes to see if anything happens before you continue to the next breast. If after 15 minutes the contractions begin to fizzle, stimulate the other breast. If they do start to increase, stop, and let nature run its course.
  2. Your partner can also orally massage your nipples. This goes well with option number 2. Use the same time restraints as the first option.
  3. Or you could use your breast pump. Using a breast pump can be more effective since it is going to be more vigorous than you or your partner, but some women find the pumping and the contractions to be a bit too painful too quickly.

NOTES:

  • Only massage one breast at a time.
  • Don’t stimulate the breast during a contraction.
  • Do not use nipple stimulation after the contractions are 3 minutes apart or 1 minute long.
  • If contractions start coming close together, take a break and let nature take its course.
  • You also don’t want it to be too gentle. Babies have a strong suckle when they are on the breast so you want to imitate that intensity.

2. Sex

Pretty much everyone knows or has been told that having sex is the way to start labor. The reason for that is the act of sex can cause contractions. Not only that, semen contains a substance called prostaglandins which helps the cervix to ripen and efface, so it’s best that he also orgasms. This prepares your body for labor. I know, I know. You’re not feeling very sexy at the end of your pregnancy and you may not be “in the mood” at all.

When I tell women about this, most of them let out a groan and say they feel pretty uncomfortable at this point and they don’t think that sex will be comfortable at all. I then tell them that having an orgasm can also stimulate prostaglandins. So if you don’t feel comfortable having sex at this point in your pregnancy, you can still have an orgasm on your own to help start labor.

NOTES:

  • Having sex does not immediately cause you to go into labor. It helps your body prepare for labor, but it is something that you would have to do regularly to get faster results.
  • Do NOT have sex if your water is already broken. This can cause you to be at risk for an infection.

3. Exercise/ Cardio/ Stair Climbing / Squats

Use gravity to your advantage. Get up and start moving! Physical activity helps move your baby’s head down lower in your pelvis and that allows your baby’s head to put pressure on your cervix, which helps it dilate. Try walking for 30 minutes every day. If you can walk up a steep hill, even better! This causes you to lean forward at an angle helping baby move in the right direction. Walking stairs and doing squats have also been said to be very helpful. So go ahead and get that heart pumping!

4. Labor Inducing Foods

To be honest, most of the foods that are said to help naturally induce labor are old wives’ tales, but there are a few foods that have properties in them that may help. It’s been said that pineapples may help ripen the cervix since it contains an enzyme called bromelain, which can do just that. Other foods that may start labor include spicy foods and foods that contain basil, oregano, and/or ginger. Spicier foods tend to work the best out of them all since it stimulates your colon. If you didn’t know, a sign of going into labor is diarrhea. When your intestines are stimulated/ irritated by the spicy foods you consumed, it causes you to have bowel movements. Those cramps in your intestines can spread to your uterus, which then can cause you to have contractions and go into labor.

5. Raspberry Leaf Tea

Drinking raspberry leaf tea regularly can strengthen and tone your uterus and help those muscles in your uterus start to contract. You can get raspberry leaf tea at pretty much any grocery store. You can prepare it hot or make it iced so you can enjoy it year-round. It’s also great to drink after you have your baby since it’s a uterine toner and strengthens your uterus. Bottoms up!

tea_ripeready

6. Labor Induction Massages

Getting a labor induction massage is a great way to get contractions going. As a licensed massage therapist, I have given many of these massages and have helped approximately 60-70% of them go into labor after just one appointment. Women will question if this massage will help them go into labor within 24 hours, but I tell them it should happen within 48 hours. If nothing happens, they should come back for another massage. This massage allows you to relax your muscles around baby, and it sends signals to your body to start the labor process. I highly recommend it.

NOTE: Make sure your massage therapist is knowledgeable about giving labor induction massages.

labor induction massage

7. Warm Baths

Soaking in a warm bath may help to get labor going. How so? Soaking in the tub helps relax you. There is evidence that stress and being uptight may keep you from going into labor. This is why massages and baths are also beneficial.

8. Evening Primrose Oil

Looking for an oil to induce labor? Evening primrose oil (EPO) might just be the thing for you since it can be used to help soften the cervix. EPO contains a chemical that the body converts into prostaglandins. Some doctors don’t recommend this since research has been inconclusive as to whether or not EPO is effective at inducing labor. They normally recommend sex over EPO since semen has prostaglandins. However, many midwives recommend it to their patients to prepare for labor. Several women swear that after one or two nights of inserting capsules near their cervix they went into labor.

To use EPO, you can break the EPO capsule and rub the oil on your cervix at nighttime, or you can insert the capsules vaginally before you go to bed. The moist environment of the vagina will melt the capsule and disperse the gel throughout the cervix. Be sure to wear a pad or have something under you while you sleep since it can leak. Another option is taking it orally.

NOTE: Speak to your healthcare provider before trying this option.

evening primrose oil

9. Castor Oil

Let me first say, I am not a big fan of castor oil. It is a major controversial induction option. The reason is castor oil has a high content of ricinoleic acid, which when ingested is absorbed in the intestine and causes intense intestinal cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea because it acts as a strong laxative. It also tastes disgusting. However, many people believe that castor oil induces labor. Some midwives don’t recommend it and some swear by it. Some pregnant women say that it gave them nothing but a bad case of diarrhea. No fun. If you are desperate and spoke to your health care provider and got their approval, here’s how you can take it rather than just by taking a shot:

  • Get 2 ounces of castor oil in a glass of orange juice and quickly drink, or
  • Get 2 ounces and mix it with ice cream. The flavor might be hard to slowly get down though. It bothers some women more than others. Just a heads up!

Castor-Oil

10. Membrane Sweeping/Stripping

This one can be quite uncomfortable. It hasn’t been proven to be one of the most effective forms of induction, but it is an option. This is something that your doctor or midwife could do at one of your prenatal visits. What happens is your doctor or midwife will do a vaginal exam and they will reach to your cervix to check your effacement and dilation. Once they can feel that you have had some progress, he/she will run his/her fingers around the edge of the amniotic sac and the uterus and gently try to separate it from your uterine wall. This can send signals to your uterus that it’s time for labor and can cause uterine contractions and the release of prostaglandins which may jump-start labor.

11. Acupuncture & Acupressure

Acupuncture and acupressure is another natural method for inducing labor. With acupuncture, a practitioner places fine needles at various points along the body to balance your energy flow. Acupressure is the same concept, but instead fingers are used to apply pressure to pressure points. These are also pressed during labor induction massages. A couple of pressure points are thought to cause contractions. One is located in the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. The other is located just above your ankle. Applying pressure to either of these two pressure points may help bring on uterine contractions.

acupressure

image via wikihow.com

Acupressure-to-Induce-Labour-ankle

image via wikihow.com

12. Herbs & Tinctures

You should consult your doctor or midwife before considering herbs to induce labor. Herbs are not regulated by the FDA and can be dangerous if not taken at the proper dosage. This is why it is important to work with your midwife or an herbalist for instructions on when and how to use them. Some herbs that have been used to induce labor include black cohosh, blue cohosh, false unicorn root, and motherwort.

There you go!

Twelve different ways to naturally induce labor. I will say, even these methods are interventions and it’s always best to eat right, exercise, rest and enjoy those last few days of pregnancy as much as you can because the safest and healthiest labor is one that starts spontaneously. But for the ladies that need a little extra help to get things going, I hope that these options help!

Listen: Episode 13 – How to Induce Labor Naturally

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About the Author /

Nina is The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®. She is a baby planner, birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, newborn care specialist, and a mother. With over eight years of experience, she has supported hundreds of families during their pregnancies, births, and postpartum journeys.

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Okay, grandma. 🙄⁠ 📷: unknown Okay, grandma. 🙄⁠
📷: unknown
To the mamas, papas, dreamers, visionaries, SAHMs, To the mamas, papas, dreamers, visionaries, SAHMs, etc. out there, kudos to you! For going so hard, for not quitting even on the worst days, even on the tired days, even on the days you don't know how you're going to do it, or don't feel like you can. You know it's okay to have some patience, grace, and forgiveness with yourself, right?⁠
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Our children are the future. I had to learn to give myself some grace. Sometimes when I evaluate where I am in life and see that I'm not exactly where I want to be or could've been frustrates me, or gets me down. I'm so hard on myself. But then I realized if the ONLY good thing I've done or successfully done is raise great children, I am in fact doing well!! *Parents, it's so important how we raise our children, and many of you KNOW that is not an easy task.⁠
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There are so many different aspects on this one topic. First, their confidence, self-love, etc. is so important. They need to know who they are, so when they encounter times and people that aren't so kind they are not completely crushed.⁠
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Secondly, think about who you're putting into the world. Do you remember your heartbreak(s), or some of the sh*%$y people you've come across and thought who raised them? Or even when you encountered a child that needed a hug or just some TLC. It's important!⁠
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Thirdly, but not least, for the dreamer or the visionary . . . Yes, we are working so hard for our dreams and goals. And one day we may achieve them, but our building and growing may also be in the building for our children. As we are building a future for them. Show yourself a little love. ❤️"⁠
Words & 📷: @tanishasnell_
"On my headstone, I hope they write, 'Here lies a "On my headstone, I hope they write, 'Here lies a devoted mother who suffocated under her enormous laundry pile.' #kiddingnotkidding⁠
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I'm trying to be more mindful about laundry and use it as a meditation practice (my main squeeze Thich Nhat Hanh talks about washing your dishes like you're bathing baby Buddha. 😊) Sometimes I can do it and feel grateful and grounded (I find cloth diapers particularly soothing for some reason. 🤷‍♀️) And sometimes I consider just turning our living room into one huge laundry pile and letting everyone forage for their clothes each morning. #wildstyle⁠
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So tell me, wise women of the world--how do you do laundry? Are you a load-a-day type or do you wait until it piles up and tackle it all at once?"⁠
Words & 📷: @spiritysol
It's called balance. And motherhood. And it's the It's called balance. And motherhood. And it's the weekend. 💁‍♀️🤪 Cheers!
Want to jazz up breakfast or lunch for the kids (o Want to jazz up breakfast or lunch for the kids (or yourself 😉) in an easy way? Animal Face Toast! 😍⁠
Pop an emoji for your favorite animal!🐱🦉🦊🐻🐷🐵⁠
📷: @weelicious
Staying safe for mom and baby has never been tough Staying safe for mom and baby has never been tougher than it is now. 😷 Shout out to all the pregnant moms and moms with newborns!! You are amazing. 🙇‍♀️ You are strong. 💪 And our hearts are with you. ❤️⁠
📷: @themommaprentice
The Ultimate List of Grandma Names 👵⁠ ⁠.⁠ The Ultimate List of Grandma Names 👵⁠
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When I found out I was pregnant, one of the many things I began to wonder was, "What are my parents and in-laws going to go by as their grandparent names?" Grandparents are not just going with the classic "Grandma and Grandpa" names anymore. Some are now getting creative and are coming up with new ideas. If your mother or mother-in-law are unsure of what they want their special Grandma names to be, we're sharing our ultimate list of over 100 Grandma names to choose from!⁠ ❤️ ⁠{Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
📷: @newmommy_in_city
FOR REAL. 🤦‍♀️😑⁠ 📷: @alyceoneword FOR REAL. 🤦‍♀️😑⁠
📷: @alyceoneword
Mommas . . . have you stopped to take a moment for Mommas . . . have you stopped to take a moment for yourself, take a breath, or take a sip of water yet? This is your friendly reminder. ❤️ Whether you are pregnant, a new mom or a mom with little (or big) ones running around the house, take a minute for yourself right now and drink a big sip of water. If you have a headache from your toddler screaming, feeling sluggish from the lack of sleep, cloudy from your neverending to-do list, or hungry because of pregnancy or just because, this will help. So take a sip. Your body and mind will thank you for it! 🙏