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Getting Labor Started, Naturally (Kids, Don't Try This At Home)

Carolyn worked as a technical writer, software user interface designer, and as a gig writer way before it was hip.

It's time for that baby to be born and I mean now. You're ready but the baby is taking his or her sweet little ol' time. Some of these tried and true remedies are known to work but a few of them are, well...out there.

It's time for that baby to be born and I mean now. You're ready but the baby is taking his or her sweet little ol' time. Some of these tried and true remedies are known to work but a few of them are, well...out there.

My Son'll Come Out...Tomorrow

My son'll come out, tomorrow, tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, he will come! Well, actually I'm having a girl, but that didn't sound right with the lyrics from Annie.

And oh, if only that were true. My doctor gave me three different due dates after the ultrasound revealed that our calculations were well off. Now we've moved beyond due dates one and two, and are swiftly approaching due date number three. It seems like we have tried everything—and I do mean EVERYTHING to help this baby arrive.

When we stop off at the convenience store, my friend behind the counter loudly proclaims "Sheesh, woman, haven't you had that baby yet? What's wrong with you?"


What have I learned? That my husband is a slave driver and this baby appears to be at least as strong-willed as my other two children. Or maybe she just has a big head. That is a distinct possibility too. If you are in the same situation as me, you may be interested in the tried and true methods of naturall* inducing labor that I have researched. But I must warn you, they haven't kicked in, and I've been trying them for a few weeks.

Maybe I'm not going to have a baby after all, but a space alien.

Warning, this is a humor piece. I didn't think it was very funny when I wrote it, but neither will you, if you try some crazy stunt from this article and end up having some kind of emergency. So just laugh until you feel like peeing, but don't try this at home.

photo credit  Glenn Mcgloughlin  Don't brush the snow off yet, swinging on a swing is not a good idea.

photo credit Glenn Mcgloughlin Don't brush the snow off yet, swinging on a swing is not a good idea.

Some Traditional Ways to Induce Labor


Most of my friends who are mothers of small children have included extensive walking as part of the natural labor-inducing methodology. A nice long walk around the neighborhood is a low-strain way of helping gravity position the baby in the birth canal. If you are truly close, this will feel like a watermelon or small cantaloupe is squeezing between your pelvic bones, but this late in the pregnancy, remember that's a good thing. Remember to bring your cell phone, a bottle of water, and a friend who can carry you on their back should your water break.

Stair Stepping

Closely related to walking, and quite a bit more ambitious, is stair stepping. One article I read suggested that the pregnant mother scale two steps at a time. Scaling the stairs in this way is supposed to help thin and stretch your muscles.


If, like me, you aren't fortunate enough to own your own swimming pool, you will need to go through your closet and find something stretchy to wear. Don't worry about shaving your legs; everyone at the pool will be gawking at your huge, pregnant stomach instead. If you are nine months pregnant during the summer months, a good swim will have two effects: the water will buoy up that big belly of yours and take ALL of the strain off of the muscles that are trying to hold you together. With this added level of comfort, you will find yourself much better able to focus on swimming, frog stepping, or jumping jacks, and the exertion might just help you to sleep through the night before giving birth.

Sex (Good Sex)

Sex is a well-known trigger to help begin contractions. The key here is to make sure that you have an orgasm, since that is what does the trick. And good luck with that. If you can have good sex during the cantaloupe stage, your partner is truly a keeper. Just sayin'.

Castor Oil

There are entire articles online dedicated to using castor oil to begin contractions. Castor oil is a laxative, and will cause you to empty your bowels so if, like me, you live 35 minutes from the hospital with few bathroom facilities in between, this may NOT be the option for you. My friend tried it and says it just made her throw up. With those warnings in mind, many people say this is THE best method they have tried. Castor oil tastes really gross, too, in case you haven't heard.

Update--I read that it is precisely the laxative effect of castor oil that causes contractions. As the bowels empty, the stomach contracts. This can trigger regular contractions in an already due pregnant woman.

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Read More From Wehavekids


I tried this, though I must admit only half-heartedly. And I didn't pay an expert, so that probably didn't help. Acupressure is an ancient Chinese medicinal practice of applying pressure to certain points on the body to stimulate a certain response.

Rye bread is thought to cause labor. There is sketchy scientific evidence to back this up, but if you prefer chocolate cake, you might as well eat that.

Rye bread is thought to cause labor. There is sketchy scientific evidence to back this up, but if you prefer chocolate cake, you might as well eat that.

Some Creative Methods

Off-Road Adventure...It's a Guy Thing

Since swimming, walking, stair stepping, and other forms of physical activity weren't doing the trick, my husband suggested we go for an off-road adventure. We drove on a rutted dirt road, and then through a boulder-strewn riverbed. If you want my opinion, this suggestion was a guy thing. My husband got the idea from his coworker, who proudly boasted that HIS wife went into labor almost immediately after he took her on a jarring ride through the desert on his Rail. Sounds like a guy thing to me.

We took our two-year-old son with us, and he regaled us for 40 minutes with screams and crying from the back seat. It wasn't pleasant. I didn't like it.

My ex-brother-in-law, who is studying medicine, suggested that this really isn't a good idea. He suggested I drink hot liquids instead. It was the end of June. Sigh.

Chased by a Scary-Looking Rottweiler

My friend and her daughter were at the screen door of their house with their mean-looking Rottweiler. My friend assures me she wouldn't hurt a fly. My husband pulled into the driveway and I opened the car door. The Rottweiler rushed at me, charging through the screen door and knocking my friend over, barking and growling. I guess I was just a big target. I hightailed it back into the car and shut the door. And I was almost in labor then. Almost.

Fighting with Your Loved Ones

Have you seen that movie, The Waitress? Well, the unfortunate woman ends up having an affair with her OB, and at a pivotal scene in the movie, has an enormous fight with her estranged husband. This puts her in labor. I have read that this type of unpleasantry and intense stress can cause labor, but I don't recommend it for you.

By the way, I didn't like the Waitress movie. What's wrong with people these days? Doesn't anyone have any principles? That OB was a scumbag. Just because he was cute didn't excuse him. Oops, there goes my soap box.

Rye Bread

OK, this sounds really weird, but RYE bread just may be the answer to your past-due miseries. Go to the health food store and buy a tasty loaf of Jewish rye bread, or if you are REALLY ambitious, you could make your own. You can make a tuna sandwich, or a Ruben, or just eat it plain. Rye bread has the ability to induce labor. For that reason, it is truly a miracle food.

My husband swears that the rye bread is what put me into labor with my first child. He loves to tell everyone we know that it was two slices of rye bread that I ate the night before I went into labor.

The labor-causing effects of Rye bread may have something to do with Ergot. This is a fungus that grows on grains of rye. An alkaloid in the fungus can actually begin strong contractions. When allowed to develop, the Ergot can cause a disease called Saint Anthony's Fire, which among other things, can cause gangrene and the loss of your feet and hands. But this is only if you eat large quantities of spoiled Rye bread, which was the staple diet of peasants during the middle ages. So don't worry too much about that.

Other Labor-Inducing Foods

My friend says her midwife told her to eat a large plate of spaghetti noodles to help induce labor. I'm not sure what magical properties are in a plate of spaghetti noodles, but hey, she thinks it worked for her.

Other foods I've heard recommended include heavily-spiced foods, and raspberry herbal tea. Finally, I have heard that eggplant parmigiana is a highly effective labor inducing food. I saw several bloggers' entries that also claimed this was a good labor-inducing food.

Why can't some of the foods I REALLY like be labor inducers? How about a hot fudge sundae? Cheesecake, anyone? What about chocolate cake? Why not?

Start a Project

Have you ever noticed that when you stop dwelling on something and decide to move on with your life, that's when it happens? That's how I became pregnant with my son, and am pretty sure that's how this baby has come about. The same principle also works for labor. Do you have a room you need to clean, boxes you need to pack, a garage sale you need to organize, or even an article you need to write? Get to work. The baby will come shortly. One of Murphy's laws will kick in and prevent you from finishing your project.

Sit Around For a Week and Listen to Your Husband Say...

Gee, why aren't you in labor yet?

It was cute the first 13 times. But now I automatically respond with, "I know, dear, but next time YOU can carry the baby and give birth." Perhaps it's just wishful thinking, but it could happen.

After you've tried everything else and you're still pregnant, go for a nice big piece of chocolate cake. Why not?

After you've tried everything else and you're still pregnant, go for a nice big piece of chocolate cake. Why not?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on August 30, 2011:

I always suspected it was an old wives tale, still it was an enjoyable story to tell the kids when I ate rye bread at 4 a.m. and went into hard labor at 5:00 a.m. Thanks, though, I do believe you.

miriam on August 30, 2011:

Coming from a scandinavian country, there's NO way rye bread could induce since that's the only bread we eat every day ;)

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on October 23, 2010:

Hi There! It sounds like you are ready anytime. I hope it goes well and is an easy and enjoyable experience for you. That does happen for some people, so I am going to wish it for you! I'm looking forward to meeting you soon!


oneluckystar on October 22, 2010:

I tried the pineapples. Didn't work. They actually just gave me an allergic reaction that I had to go to the hospital for. (I didn't realize that this was your article until your husband, who I work with, said you wrote it!) So Hello! I'm the pregnant one at work who he may have mentioned to you at home. :) Still expecting any day. I think I'm too afraid to try any other forms of natural induction after my pineapple experience. LOL

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on June 28, 2010:

That is a good question Eerie Momma, I guess the answer depends on how far along you are! Thanks for the comment and good luck with your delivery, however it gets started. :)

Eerie Momma on June 27, 2010:

I've been craving rye bread for the last week, and I just read your blog about rye bread supposedly being a labor starter... Also, I've heard that fresh pineapple is also pretty good at starting labor, which I've also been craving...

I wonder if that's just a coincidence or my body telling me something!

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on January 09, 2010:

Aw, my heart goes out to you. I've been 10 days late so I know how you feel. I wish you a speedy and safe delivery.

mommyof2boys&2girls on January 09, 2010:

im over being prego nothings working

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on September 06, 2009:

Thanks crayonbrains. I love your username.

crayonbrains from The World Is Mine ! on August 29, 2009:

Very informative and great sense of humor !Thanks for sharing

Carol Swift from USA on July 16, 2009:

Great hub, very informative. Thank you for sharing.

Jane on September 04, 2008:

Mmmm, rye bread-not, but it may have been what brought my first labor on. My son was born the morning after a tuna sandwich on rye-who knows?

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on September 03, 2008:

Thanks Moon Daisy! Our family is well and very happy the overdue baby finally made her way into the world! LOL!

Moon Daisy from London on September 03, 2008:

That's a great hub. I particularly liked your funny suggestions at the end! I've got friends who tried castor oil and hot curries (not together though!), but all they got was a very bad stomach.

Another suggestion on the food front is pineapple. My anti-natal teacher recommended this. I can't remember exactly why it works but it's meant to be good. I didn't know about rye bread. And I've never known of anyone who actually feels like being intimate when they're overdue!

I hope your birth went well and you're all doing ok.

dayzeebee from Cebu, Philippines on July 08, 2008:

i never knew there were so many ways one could induce labor. learned a lot here. thanks for the information.

Lupo from Boston Area on July 05, 2008:

I can't even imagine - but this was an interesting hub to read.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on June 29, 2008:

Thanks Amy Jane! I read about the black cohosh but haven't tried it. Bikini wax? The doctors must have been really impressed.

amy jane from Connecticut on June 29, 2008:

Oh, those last days are awful! I think I tried all of the above suggestions myself without much success. My midwife even "stretched" my cervix. OUCH! Are you watching for the fullmoon? Tried black cohoosh? I have a friend who swears that getting a bikini wax worked with 2 out of 3 of her babies - I couldn't bring myself to try that one. :) Best of luck!

wannabwesternfan on June 28, 2008:

Are you in labor yet? baby girl, come out and play, please! My favorite was "Intimacy with a Partner". Though off roading was also fun, I guess it is a guy thing.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on June 28, 2008:

Thanks moonlake! Maybe I will go into labor soon. I still have my fingers crossed.

moonlake from America on June 28, 2008:

After a false labor in the morning and being sent home the doctor said I had at least two more weeks to go. We went to Whitefront and Knott's Berry Farm to try and start labor. I delivered the next morning. How wrong doctors can be!

Enjoyed your hub..

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