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Nautrally Induce Labor

Updated on March 16, 2010

When women reach the last month of pregnancy the biggest question is "When am I going to go into labor?" Well for those who would like to naturally induce labor without having medical intervention such as Pitocin or dilation in the hospital, please read on. A caveate to all these methods is that they will not work if your body is not ready to go into labor. You can seriously try until you're blue in the face and you will not go into labor. Remember that not all of these methods are 100% proven to work and some are downright bizarre.I found also having my Snoogle pregnancy pillow with me during the early stages with both my labors and it helped greatly for my pain due to discomfort of position.

1. Sexual Intercourse

I have heard mixed feelings on if this will jump start labor. With my first, I went into labor within five hours of making love with my husband. The reason this might start labor is sperm naturally contains prostaglandins which softens the cervix and ripens it for delivery. If the cervix isn't ripe it will not dilate. Another reason is that the action of "poking around" is effectively doing the exact same thing as when an OB strips the membranes. Last but certainly not least is a woman's orgasm releases Oxytocin which is the natural form of Pitocin the drug that is commonly used to medically induce labor and this starts contractions.

2. Spicy Food

Many people who find out that I am 39 weeks pregnant always suggest that I eat spicy food. This is the most common suggestion that I have heard from a number of sources but according to Donna Engelgau of Discovery Health, this is a myth and with me all it did was cause is heartburn and indigestion. Some women actually see this spicy food in a less than appetizing light the second time around if they get sick during labor.

3. Exercise Ball

Sitting on an exercise ball and rocking back and forth can help move the baby into a better position to start labor. Many midwives suggest this as an easy method to move labor along during the early stages. This action helps move the baby down into proper station for birth (positive + 2).

4. Castor Oil (the vegetable oil variant NOT the one in the automotive section)

This method has mixed experiences as to if it works or not. The biggest thing is does do is clear your digestive track out and cause diarrhea and misery. There are some individuals that insist up and down that this works but out of 85 women I know only 5 have gone into labor within several hours of completing a two dose regime.

For decades, women have been using castor oil to help induce labor. In fact, many old school physicians and midwives swear by it. It can provide good results if you are already in early labor. It is believed to work by causing spasms in the intestines, which surround the uterus toward the end of pregnancy. These spasms, in turn, cause the uterus to cramp, which might result in labor.

You can take 1 to 4 ounces of castor oil mixed with 6 ounces of orange juice to cut its oiliness. You'll want to drink it quickly because of the unpleasant taste. Some practitioners suggest taking a single dose; others suggest repeated doses depending on your response. Keep in mind that castor oil usually will cause your bowels to empty within about three hours. With luck, soon after that, you will be in true labor.

5. Walking lopsided

I know this one sounds funny but several swear by it that walking lopsided or curb walking has sent them into labor within 24 hours. The theory is the same as with the Exercise Ball where movement causes the baby to move down into position. The way you do this method is to walk with one foot on the top of the curb and the other in the gutter of the street and take a walk this way.

6. Kegel exercises while propped with feet on wall

The Kegel exercises are used to tighten and tone the pelvic shelf. The way you perform these are to simply tighten and relax the muscles used to control the start and stop of urine and bowel movements. The way to do this is to put your feet flat against the wall as far apart as you can and do 100 Kegels in this position. Once the set is complete, move your feet further apart and repeat Kegel set. Do this until you have contractions that are steady. This is not proven but doing Kegels will tone the pelvic region and help in labor.

7. Walking

This is a tried and true method that helps move labor along. It's recommended that every pregnant woman in early labor walk for as long as they can stand it to progress labor into the transition stage. Remember every trip to the fridge and bathroom makes you one step closer to having the baby.

8. Mowing the lawn

Ok I know this one sounds like a man suggested it in order to get pregnant women to "pull their weight" around the yard work. I tried this with my most recent addition after I was 40 weeks and 6 days and not having any signs of going into labor except for five false starts and useless trips to the Labor and Delivery ward just to do the "waddle of shame" back out. I tried out our nifty new Craftsman Self Propelled lawn mower on our front lawn and allowed it to do most of the work and I just guided it around the trees and bushes. The only time I had to work with it was to turn it back around to go the other way. Now we have two different lawn mowers and by far this Craftsman one weighs a good 20lbs more than our dinky old one so I was lifting the entire engine and blades off the ground in order to turn it because once the mower is facing one way it is a pain to get it turned around. I mowed the grass at about 9:00pm the night prior and by 6:30am I couldn't deny that I was in full blown active labor (the type that makes you bend over and cry out).

9. Acupuncture

This is not meaning that you have to be poked with dozens of needles in order to start labor. In this method, pressure point are used to start labor. Either a trained professional or even your birthing partner can do this technique. There are charts as to the known pressure points found all over the internet.

10. Chiropractic Adjustment

A chiropractor with certification in treating pregnant and pediatric patients can provide mothers with immense relief throughout one's pregnancy. Gentle techniques exist to help with these biomechanical changes, and several studies have shown that regular chiropractic care during pregnancy can shorten labor time from 24% - 39%. I had chiropractic adjustments regularly when I was pregnant with my first and had an adjustment two days prior to my water breaking at home.

11. Nipple Stimulation

Some women massage their nipples as a way to induce labor. This stimulation brings about the release of oxytocin, which is the natural form of pitocin. Oxytocin causes contractions, which sometimes evolve into labor.

Most practitioners are not enthusiastic about this method of inducing labor, because it has been known to lead to excessively long, strong uterine contractions sometimes resulting in fetal heart rate slowing. Unless your practitioner advises it and is monitoring your progress closely, nipple stimulation is not recommended as a means for beginning labor.

12. Stripping the Membranes

Your practitioner may offer to "strip your membranes" to help start your labor. This procedure usually feels like a vaginal examination, although it sometimes can be painful or cause cramping. The practitioner places her gloved finger through the cervix and sweeps the amniotic membranes free of their attachment to the lower part of the uterine cavity. This process is believed to release hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which help to ready your body for labor. When I had my membranes stripped while pregnant with my second child, it took less than 30 seconds to accomplish. My practitioner checked me for dilation and effacement and stripped (or swept) my membranes at my 39 and 40 week appointments.

While some experts believe that stripping the membranes causes you to go into labor that day, the only research on this procedure was done by a group of midwives who stripped the membranes of a group of their patients at every visit to the office after 38 weeks gestation. Their findings showed that patients who had this procedure were less likely to go past their due dates. According to the study, the procedure didn't seem to pose any complications and didn't cause the patients' waters to break.

Even though your practitioner would be the one to do the procedure (vs. the other methods that can be done by you at home), I include it here because it is a non-medical intervention that does not require medicine to start the labor.

13. Herbs that help labor

Blue and black cohosh These herbs are used often to induce labor. They may be particularly effective if you are having weak or irregular contractions. Blue cohosh is believed to make uterine contractions stronger, while black cohosh may regulate the contractions. Together, they work to make contractions more effective. Unfortunately, no studies have determined that these natural treatments are safe, or whether all versions of the herb available for purchase are of equal potency. Be sure to discuss any herbal treatment with your practitioner before attempting it, to see if it is a good idea in your situation.

EPO - Evening Primrose Oil - A variety of herbs are touted as useful for labor induction, but there isn't enough evidence to prove that any of them are both safe and effective. Some are risky because they can overstimulate your uterus and may be unsafe for your baby for other reasons as well.


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    • profile image

      mapule 3 years ago

      iyoh im tired of this pregnancy im 37 weeks always vomiting an headeache i even get dizzy while sleeping ive tried raspberry leaf tea didn't work

    • profile image

      Jen 5 years ago

      At 39 I have been trying acupressure and nipple stimulation. A couple of days ago I began feeling an overwhelming pressure on my cervix and have since bought a yoga ball. I feel the occasional pressure (possibly contractions) but I am unsure if they could be early labour signs or just some braxton-hicks (though they feel rather intense when I contract in my vagina). Tonight I combined a bath with nipple stimulation, acupressure, bouncing, spicy food and curb walking. After having a couple of mild contractions I have a strong sense that my baby will be here within the next couple of days. Maybe you have to slowly build up on these techniques rather than give up on one if it doesn't work..? Tomorrow I may try castor oil (not entirely keen) and see where it leads me.

    • profile image

      Amanda H 5 years ago

      40 weeks and 1 day here. in absolute agony with useless braxton hicks. went 2 weeks over with my 1st son and was induced but developed pre-e and HELLP syndrome and had 2 fits after giving birth and 3 days in a coma. went 10 days over with my daughter and again was induced and again developed HELLP syn. now 40w1d with 3rd and have protien in urine but new old school midwife who refuses 2 let her patients be induced. i'm terrified but i am so through with this pregnancy. get it out!

    • profile image

      Rebekah 5 years ago

      I am 39 weeks 1 day. At 38 weeks 2 days I was 3 centimeters and 50% I have had strong uncomfortable contractions all last night and all day today that just don't seem to be going anywhere but they are extremely uncomfortable and I'm not sure if I should go to the hospital or not. It's heartbreaking when they send you back home :( This is the longest I've ever been pregnant because with my first one I was 37 1/2 weeks and my second I was exactly 37 weeks when I had her. I expected this one to be here around that time too but I am 5 days away from my due date. My husband left me after getting another girl pregnant so sex is out of the question for me and I'm too scared to do castor oil. Should I walk then go to the hospital?

    • profile image

      Amanda 6 years ago

      I am 37 weeks pregnant and i want to have my daughter i am in pain all the time and just want to get her out i have a three year old son and this pregnancy is way worse than the last one im trying everything to have her bcuz im in pain and i cant handle it n e more

    • profile image

      Kattie 6 years ago

      I'll be 40 weeks on Friday... And if I don't go in to labor by the 22nd I'll be induced the 23rd and I really don't want to, I wanted to go naturally, but my doctor tells me I'm too small and baby is already 8 pounds as of my last appointment, my next appointment is Friday. Anyway, as of my last appointment I haven't dialated AT ALL and I'm only 70% effaced. Which I was effaced the same thing before that. So no progress. I've been bouncing on the ball, walking on our trails, and drinking the herbal tea they suggested. I haven't had sex, because unfortunatley my hubby is in Afghanistan. So, I'm trying my best here. This is my first child, and I know most first times go over the due date, but I'd rather not be medically induced! It's scary to think about.

    • profile image

      Sherry 6 years ago

      Thanks for writing this article! Im only 14 wks right now but ive had 3 kids & with the last 1 I had sex to induce & at 6 or so that morning I woke up having contractions so I just wanted 2 let any1 who wants to try that way know that it worked for me. Good luck all!?

    • profile image

      Daniella 6 years ago

      I'm 36 weeks right now, but because my BP is super high and the meds I'm on right now don't seem to be working very well, my doctor told me I'm probably going to have to be induced in the next week or two if he doesn't come before then. I've been rocking on my hands and knees, and on a ball for the past week and my baby has dropped 6cm in the past week. She told me to try and drop him further.

      Anyone have suggestions to drop him further?

    • profile image

      Laquita 6 years ago

      Im 38 weeks 1 day &' I'm becoming very very thru with this .! First pregnancy &' it has driven me up a wall .! Jesus please help me , I've tried castor oil &' exercise &' I'm still pregnant .!

    • profile image

      Deb 6 years ago

      I have tried everything I can possibly do and at 40 weeks and 3 days nothing still seem to work! This is really frustrating and the only possible thing I can only think of now is trusting God and believing my lil angel will be here soon...

    • profile image

      Amber 6 years ago

      I am 40 weeks and 4 days past my ultrasound due date... if I went by my LMP I'd be 42 weeks and 4 days along... my last baby was born at 42 weeks 1 day... I've done it all too... just trust in God's timing... He's known your babies birthday sense before you were born!

    • profile image

      Pamela 6 years ago

      Im 35 weeks with my second child. My first was born at 3636 weeks due to pre-e and I didn't get to experience labor at all. This time my dr is wanting to induce at 38 if everything stays like it is now. I don't want to go through another potocin induced labor. Im going to try these and see if she wont come before he induces me. I know it might not work but I have to atleast try.

    • profile image

      Jonaee 6 years ago

      I am 38w2days in I am so ready,i've tried inducing my own labor...but nothing works!

      Im so overwhelmed!

      I need some ones advice.

    • profile image

      Anna 6 years ago

      Great suggestions and interesting reading! I'm currently 41 and 4 and have continued to refuse induction until 42 weeks. Fourth baby and the first three were all after 41 weeks. I, like many of you am tired of being pregnant and it's not easy chasing three children under the age of six but ive been medically induced and am happily waiting till 42 hoping to avoid it again. Te natural births were so much better experiences and I'm hoping for that again. Have tried many things in the last few days but know that this little one will be here when he or she is ready to be born. Congrats to all of you!

    • profile image

      Diane, midwife 6 years ago

      All good suggestions if a woman is threatened with an induction. But maybe we should all work on acceptance of the facts that pregnancy is uncomfortable and babies come when they are ready. What else do they need to develop for life outside the uterus?

    • profile image

      Ceara 6 years ago

      I'm 40w6d and having no contractions at all. Tried sex, walking and my practitioner did stripping and still have no contractions. Thing is what might work for you may not work for someone else. I think they will induce labor with me. It's my first pregnancy.

    • AFTiggerIntel profile image

      AFTiggerIntel 6 years ago from Nebraska

      You never said how many weeks you are Stella, you just might not be ready. You also might think that you are sweeping your membranes but actually just playing around in there. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but the baby will come in due time.

      With my second, I went into labor at 41 weeks 5 days and was informed that if I hadn't come in on my own that they would have induced me as a VBAC two days later. The lawn mower, the heavy one, did the trick for her. My first came all on his own at 37 weeks by breaking my water at home then turned to breech and forced an emergency c-section after a very frustrating 21 hours of active labor.

    • profile image

      stella renee 6 years ago

      I tried all of the above "labor excerises" including having sex 7 times in a row, swept my membranes myself 11 times, and rolled around on a labor ball for 5 1/2 hrs. none of which have worked!! Anyone have any suggestions??

    • profile image

      lisa 6 years ago

      i am 40 weeks + 3 and i am dialated to a 4 and nothing is working

    • profile image

      Carla 7 years ago

      I was 40 weeks + 3. Went curb walking for about an hour in the morning and had regular braxton hicks all day. Water broke at 9 pm that night and had my baby the next day!

    • profile image

      Vanessa 7 years ago

      I am 39wks +2 days with our third child, Hannah. I have been in prodromal labor for 2 weeks. Went to my midwife yesterday and she swiped my membranes and then this morning I took a total of 4oz of castor oil. I know that she is going to come when it is her time, but I am so tired of contractions and trying to keep up with a 3 and 4 year old at the same time...Going to the chiropractor tomorrow hopefully! Going to try acupressure tonight with the hubby!

    • profile image

      Katy 7 years ago

      I am 40 weeks + 6. This is my 7th child. I have tried them all. The best advise i could give you would be to hang in there when God's ready ,you will have your child.I have been 4 cm for over 2 weeks and had membranes sweeped 2 days ago.Still pregnant!!You would think after 7 pregnancys and 2 home births my body would know what to do. HANG IN THERE!

    • profile image

      AshleyAJG 7 years ago

      Curb walking worked wonders for me with my first pregnancy..walked all day the day before and sure enough early the next morning i was in labor. now on my second and almost 37weeks once the cleaning and baby prep are done i will be at it again:) we will see if i get lucky and get this lil man here:)

    • profile image

      mumofryandry 7 years ago

      I am 38 weeks, dialated 2+ and 90%. I tried spicy food, long walks (up steep hills too) hopping, etc... nothing is working.... I'm done being pregnant!

    • profile image

      MaggiesMama 7 years ago

      I have tried sex, spicy food, lifting things, walking, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I was due yesterday and I want this little girl OUT!!!! lol. Right now I am sitting on an exercise ball and hopefully this works.... I'm ver tired of being pregnant! :)

    • AFTiggerIntel profile image

      AFTiggerIntel 7 years ago from Nebraska

      @ Tanya, If you're not ready there isn't anything on Earth that will make you go into labor any faster. Now my only luck came with using the push mower and mowing the lawn. Our push mower weighs 40lbs and makes you walk all funny chasing it since it's self propelled. I did that and went into labor within 12 hours. My son was born after evaluating an exercise at work having to lug heavy objects just shy of my weight limit all over the office.

    • profile image

      tanya 7 years ago

      im 39 weeks pregnant today n due next tuesday to have my lil girl ive tried lots of sex with my partner n nothing yet my son was 6 days late i just hope i go into labor soon ive got a lot of backake at the mo bt thts all urrrgg x

    • profile image

      Lindsey 8 years ago

      One other option on here that I could add would be to get a massage, or have your signifigant other give you a nice (gentle) yet firm massage focusing on the ankles, neck/shoulder area and low back. I have been a therapist for 10 years and I have seen prenatal massage be a blessing to many moms. The key to it (as well as all the methods above) would be to remember to stay relaxed and when the time is right, the baby will make it's appearance!!

    • AFTiggerIntel profile image

      AFTiggerIntel 8 years ago from Nebraska

      Unlike some who think this article might be taken from a single source. This is an article I wrote right after I had my daughter and had tried 12 of the 13 methods above. I would like to thank Drs. Robert C. Olesh and Paul G. Tomich as well as the entire Olsen Women's Center staff for their above suggestions.

    • profile image

      Francine 8 years ago

      Well im 38 weeks and i tried castor oil i felt contractions but by the time i got to the hospital they stopped so they sent me home. I was 2 cm dialated and 50% effaced now im jus waiting to see i walk a lot the sex thing hasn't been much fun cuz my belly is in the way im scheduled for induction sept 18 th 2009 due on the 23 lets c if i go in before that

    • profile image

      Melissa 9 years ago

      Thank you for all your information and I will be trying several of them. I am 40 weeks and ready. I am seeing a chropractor who specilizes in breech babies and she has been doing some adjustments to help trigger the labor processs. But I'm going to do a few more things on my own and hopefully he'll be here soon and I can naturally induce him verses having it medically done. THANK YOU AGAIN!

    • Lilymag profile image

      Lilymag 9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Good for you for putting up a hub about this! I tried several of these options with my 2nd daughter, and none of them worked! I had to go in to get induced!


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