10 Ideas to Naturally Bring on Labor

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by: Lindsay Hutton
Overdue moms will try just about anything to get things moving along. While there is no sure-fire way to induce labor the natural way, these tips and tricks are thought to help the body start the labor process. It doesn't hurt to try, right?
Happy expecting couple in bed
Lovemaking
The same thing that got you pregnant may also help coax your baby out. Semen contains prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance that helps to ripen the cervix and is similar to the medications that are used to induce labor. Just make sure your water hasn't broken and you have the green-light from your doctor, and go ahead and get busy!
Capsules of oil
Castor Oil
Castor oil acts as a powerful laxative. While there isn't evidence that it will help kick-start contractions, the idea is that since it will affect your bowels, it will indirectly stimulate your uterus since it lies in close proximity.

Just keep in mind that this trick is quite unpleasant. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are likely to occur. You also run the risk of becoming dehydrated, so consult your doctor about the risks and consider the side effects before deciding to give it a try.

Happy expecting couple in bed
Nipple Stimulation
Prolonged nipple stimulation that mimics a nursing baby releases oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that causes contractions. Gently rolling or rubbing your nipples might be the nudge your body needs for the big event.

For the best chance at results, some sources say you need to rub the whole areola, not just the nipple, three times a day for around an hour at a time. If you've got three hours a day to devote solely to nipple stimulation, it's worth giving it a try!

Plate of tacos
Spicy Foods
Certain spices, like curry, are thought to have a similar (albeit safer and tastier) effect to castor oil. It's believed that eating spicy foods stimulates the gut and bowel, so your uterus is indirectly stimulated as well.
Pregnant woman taking a walk in meadow
Long Walks
Walking and light exercise, especially stair-climbing, causes your baby's head to press down on your cervix, which helps to stimulate the release of oxytocin.

If your baby hasn't dropped yet, walking might also help him move into a better position for birth, which could help labor start naturally. Just make sure not to wear yourself out — labor is exhausting enough without having walked a marathon beforehand.

Fresh pineapple
Pineapple
Here's a simple and tasty trick to try. Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps ripen the cervix and start labor.

Each pineapple contains only a small amount of bromelain, so you'd have to eat large quantities (we're talking several pineapples) for this to possibly work. Eating several pineapples will likely have the same effect as a spoonful of castor oil, so if you end up eating six or seven, be prepared for the probability of an upset stomach.

Cup of raspberry tea
Raspberry Leaf
Drinking raspberry leaf tea or taking it in capsule form can help trigger contractions and prepare the uterine muscles for labor. It is also thought to help speed up labor, although there is no scientific evidence to back that up. Try working your way up from drinking one cup a day, or taking one tablet a day, to a maximum of four a day.

While there is no evidence that raspberry leaf encourages labor, it is strongly recommended that pregnant women steer clear of it until 38 weeks to avoid the risk of premature labor.

Woman getting foot massage
Accupressure
Acupressure is the use of fingers to find and focus on "pressure points" on your body that are thought to stimulate contractions. The webbed area between your thumb and forefinger, and a point just above your ankle, are the focus areas when attempting to induce labor.

Acupuncture is another method that focuses on specific points on the body, by inserting fine needles. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before trying this treatment.

Evening primrose oil
Evening Primrose Oil
This herb contains substances that your body turns into prostaglandins and can help thin, dilate, and prep the cervix for labor. It can be taken in capsule form, or rubbed directly on the cervix.

Talk to your doctor before trying this method. Women with certain pregnancy conditions, like placenta previa, shouldn't use it.

Pregnant woman relaxing in bath with rubber duck
Warm Baths
Relaxing in a warm bath will relieve stress and release, you guessed it, oxytocin (that happy little hormone that helps starts contractions). Even if it doesn't work, a warm bath will feel good, right? Give it a try!