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10 Completely Natural Ways to Induce Labor

If you're more than 40 weeks pregnant, this list of natural ways to induce labor may give Mother Nature a helping hand.
Naturally Induce Labor
Updated: November 14, 2023
Medically reviewed by  Donna Reese, MSN, RN, CSN

When you're past your due date, you'll do just about anything to get things moving. While there is no magic switch for inducing labor, some overdue moms want to induce labor naturally. Of course, you should always check with your doctor first because each momma is different and you want to be sure you're not doing anything that would harm you or your baby. Your doctor may have some ideas for labor induction as well. Everyone has a common goal here!

While you're at home, counting the days and hours until you get to meet your little one, check out these ways that may help to induce labor the natural way.

1. 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!

2. Castor Oil

When it comes to ways to induce labor naturally, this is not one of the more pleasant options. It's also one you're definitely going to want to run by your doctor before trying at home. 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's nearby.

We're going to keep it real with you and let you know some nasty side effects come along with trying this as a method for labor induction. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are likely to occur. You also run the risk of becoming dehydrated. When you're pregnant this is not only dangerous for you but also for your unborn baby. You'll definitely want to think this one through and have a serious talk with your doctor to see if it is a recommended option for you.

3. Nipple Stimulation

Nipple stimulation can cause uterine contractions and bring on labor. This is because it releases oxytocin, the hormone that causes contractions. Gently rolling or rubbing your nipples might be the nudge your body needs for the big event.

While you don't have to spend a huge amount of time doing this, some sources suggest rubbing your 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! If not, doing it when you have time can still be one of the natural ways to induce labor and meet your new baby.

4. Eat Spicy Foods

There's no miracle food to induce labor, but some people believe that eating spicy foods can get things going. 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.

If you already enjoy spicy foods and aren't afraid of some possible heartburn, you may want to serve up a plate or two.

5. Exercise

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. You'll want to check in with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program while pregnant, even if it is just walking and light exercise. Anything that's going to get your heart rate pumping needs to be discussed with your doctor.

6. Pineapple

Besides tasting great, pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that may help ripen the cervix and possibly start labor. There hasn't been much medical proof to back this up, but some people believe that pineapple can be a natural way to induce 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 (even though it tastes better), so if you end up eating six or seven, be prepared for the probability of an upset stomach.

7. Raspberry Leaf

Raspberry leaf has been thought to boost blood flow to the uterus and help start contractions. But, there have been no studies to prove this, so you'll certainly want to talk to your doctor before trying raspberry leaf, especially if you've never had it before.

Drinking raspberry leaf tea or taking it in capsule form may 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.

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.

8. Acupressure & Acupuncture

Acupressure works by placing pressure on specific points on the body. Applying pressure to certain points in the body is believed to stimulate contractions and may increase blood flow to the uterus. Pregnant women, no matter what trimester they're in, should definitely talk to their health care provider before beginning any acupressure treatments.

The same is true for acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is another method that focuses on specific points on the body, by inserting fine needles. It may help to ripen the cervix and induce labor. There have been minimal studies done on the effects of acupuncture on pregnant women so be sure to talk to your doctor to assess any risks.

9. Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose Oil is another natural remedy women try to induce labor, although some studies illustrate that this herb has no significant impact on cervical ripening. It is thought that Evening Primrose Oil 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 because it isn't for everyone. Women with certain pregnancy conditions, like placenta previa, shouldn't use it. Your doctor can tell you if it's right for you.

10. Warm Baths

Who doesn't love a warm bath, even when you're not pregnant! Relaxing in a warm bath will relieve stress and release, you guessed it, oxytocin (that happy little hormone that helps start contractions). When you take a warm bath you may want to skip the bath salts or bubbles because they could irritate your skin. Some women have sensitive skin when they're pregnant. Keep it simple with some warm water and maybe even a book to help you relax. Even if it doesn't work to start labor, a warm bath will feel good, right?

The Takeaway

When you've reached your third trimester and you're full-term, you're ready to get the show on the road and meet your new baby. But, we all know babies have minds of their own and may not come when they're due.

While you may want to induce labor naturally by eating spicy foods or exercising, you should always talk to your doctor first before trying anything, especially something new. You don't want to accidentally do something that would injure yourself or your unborn baby. Although it's hard to be patient, remember your baby will be here before you know it and you'll have plenty of special time together!

Sources +

Kristina Cappetta

About Kristina

Having previously worked as a news producer, Kristina left the world of television when her… Read more

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