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40 Natural Ways to Induce Labor

Susannah Birch is a certified birth doula, journalist, and owner of Trimester Talk, a leading pregnancy website.

If you've found yourself wishing you could go into labor "right now," this article will show you potential ways to induce labor that may help your baby come faster.

If you've found yourself wishing you could go into labor "right now," this article will show you potential ways to induce labor that may help your baby come faster.

Things to Know Before Inducing Labor Naturally

  • Natural induction should only be a helping hand. You want the method to be gentle enough that you won’t go into labor if your body isn’t ready. Induction is not recommended before 39-40 weeks. If you do try to induce before then, chances are it won't work anyway.
  • Don't stress about being overdue. First-time pregnancies are up to 80% more likely to go beyond the due date and you are not officially "overdue" until 42 weeks. Even then, a doctor cannot legally induce labor without your permission.
  • Do your own research. Make sure you know the risks associated with each method and are taking the correct amount of any herbal products. Don't overstrain yourself with labor-inducing exercises.
  • If you aren't sure, talk to your doctor. This is especially true if your pregnancy has been complicated or is considered high-risk.

Good luck with natural induction. Hopefully, you'll be meeting your gorgeous new addition very soon!

Past Your Due Date? Top Ten Ways to Induce Labor Naturally.

MethodWeek to StartHow to Use it Safely

1. Red raspberry leaf tea

34

Make a tea and sip, or take in pill form.

2. Evening primrose oil

35 weeks orally, 38 weeks internally

Consult your doctor or midwife before using as complications can occur.

3. Acupressure

39

Make sure your acupressurist has experience working with pregnant women.

4. Bananas

39

Eat in moderation to assist with uterine contractions. Do not take potassium supplements.

5. Basil

39

Stimulates blood flow to the uterus when added to food.

6. Borage seed oil capsules

39

Can be inserted vaginally. The oil can also be used to massage the perineum.

7. Bouncing on exercise ball

39

Find a comfortable position and bounce to bring the baby's head into position.

8. Walking

39

Walk on a level path or up and down stairs to bring the baby into position.,

9. Castor oil

41-42

With the support of your doctor or midwife, take castor oil orally when induction is medically necessary.

10. Black and blue cohosh

41-42

Take these herbs together in a tincture with the support of your doctor or midwife to strengthen contractions.

Getting Labor Started at 34 Weeks

1. Red Raspberry Leaf - Taken either as a tea or pill, red raspberry leaf can be taken at about 34 weeks. Opinions are divided as to whether it will start labor, but it definitely strengthens the uterus, leading to a (hopefully) shorter labor, because each contraction is more productive. It has been shown in one study to shorten the pushing stage of labor.

ways-to-induce-labour-naturally

When Induction Is Medically Necessary: Evening Primrose Oil at 35-38 Weeks

2. Evening primrose oil - Can be taken orally from 35 weeks or used internally from 38 weeks. If you decide to go with the second route, I would recommend doing it at night and using a pantyliner. However, keep in mind that evening primrose oil does present risks, so do your own research. Some medical information warns against using this supplement during pregnancy. While evening primrose oil is commonly used by midwives to hasten and ease labor, studies question its effectiveness and warn that its use may lead to ruptured membranes and other complications.

ways-to-induce-labour-naturally

Starting at 39 Weeks: Foods and Gentle Induction Methods

3. Acupressure - In addition to alleviating morning sickness and stopping bleeding or spotting in the early months of pregnancy, acupressure massages can also induce labor. Before using though, you’ll want to make sure that your acupressurist has experience working with pregnant women. Typically, there are acupressure points in the ankles and in the webbing between your thumb and forefinger that can cause muscle contractions, including in the uterus.

4. Bananas - Bananas have lots of potassium, which is crucial to muscle contractions. So a potassium deficiency could potentially delay labor. Note that you should eat bananas in moderation and avoid taking potassium supplements as they can be poisonous when take incorrectly.

5. Basil - Basil is an emmenagogue, or an herb that stimulates blood flow to the uterus, and can stimulate menstruation. Throw some in your cooking!

6. Borage seed oil - Along with primrose oil and black currant oil, borage seed oil is a natural source of prostaglandins, fatty acids that help induce labor. Borage oil prepares the body for birth by softening the cervix and increasing the flexibility of the pelvic ligaments. With that tissue softened, labor often quickly follows because of the pressure exerted on the cervix by the baby’s head.

7. Bouncing on a birth/exercise ball - Ball exercises can help turn your baby and move him or her into the birth canal. Midwives and doulas have been using this technique for years to speed up dilation and move the baby down into the pelvis. Find a comfortable position and gently bounce up and down to encourage your baby to move into position.

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8. Visualisation exercises - Many women swear by these. Try making a recording of yourself talking about the baby moving down and preparing to be born, or just imagine it in your mind. These are often really good to do along with relaxation exercises!

9. Walking - The bumping up and down of walking can help the baby move into the birth canal. In fact, this is one of the few ways that most doctors agree on for starting labor. If walking doesn't work, try walking up and down stairs. Lifting your legs higher as you step can help push the baby downward.

10. Yoga - Many yoga studios offer special classes for all stages of pregnancy.

ways-to-induce-labour-naturally

11. Clary sage oil - Research shows that clary sage oil aromatherapy can help promote labor and relieve pain. In fact, it is so effective in promoting labor that its use is contraindicated at any other time during pregnancy. This method should only be used by a trained midwife or practitioner. It’s not one to do by yourself as it can cause harm if used incorrectly.

12. Dates - Six dates a day in the lead-up to your due date has been shown by studies to make labor start, help with dilation, and keep labor from going too long. Plus, dates are yummy!

Induce Labor with an Exercise Ball

13. Golden seal - Golden seal's active components of hydrastatine and berberine have long been used to induce labor. It’s most easily taken orally in tablet form. As it can be dangerous during pregnancy if taken incorrectly, seek professional advice before using.

14. Kneeling on all fours - A friend of a friend was told to do this. Get down on your hands and knees and swing your hips back and forth. Her waters broke just a few minutes later. Coincidence? Maybe!

15. Licorice root - Try to get the root, not the candy. You can see what the root looks like in the picture below. The root contains more licorice and usually less sugar. Like castor oil, it has a laxative effective that causes cramping in the bowls, which in turn can lead to uterine contractions.

Though not as tasty as the candy, licorice root has long been used to help labor along.

Though not as tasty as the candy, licorice root has long been used to help labor along.

Which Week to Use Natural Induction Methods

Which Week to Use Natural Induction Methods

16. Massage - Find a massage therapist qualified to work with pregnant women. Many will know various points to massage to induce labor. Massage is not recommended during the early stages of pregnancy.

17. Motherwort - This is a great herb to use at the end of your pregnancy. It makes your contractions more effective, regulates the Braxton Hicks contractions, and stops false labor. Taken shortly after birth, motherwort can also calm your nerves and potentially prevent postpartum depression.

18. Nipple stimulation - Gently rub or roll the nipple to try to induce labor. The stimulation releases oxytocin, a hormone that causes contraction. The jury is still out on this method though. Some claim that it causes very strong contractions which can be dangerous. If you’re concerned, some experts recommend only massaging one breast at a time, or only massaging for five minutes and then waiting to see what happens before continuing. I tried it and I had barely more than cramps! For increased stimulation, try a breast pump.

19. Pineapple - Best taken fresh and raw. Pineapples contain the enzyme bromeliad, which can soften your cervix and and bring on labor. It can also stimulate your stomach, which could also help get some contractions going. Statistically speaking, the chemicals in pineapple that are said to start labor aren't very high. It would take a lot of pineapple to get labor going.

ways-to-induce-labour-naturally

20. Relaxation exercises - Try some relaxing music and lie back or even join a meditation class. Any of the relaxation exercises you learned in a childbirth class would work here. Tension works against labor, while letting everything go may help bring it on.

21. Sperm - If you feel up to sex, intercourse can work to get labor started. Sperm contains natural prostaglandins that release oxytocin to help soften and dilate the cervix.

22. Spicy food - A very well-known labor starter! The reason it works may be because of the upset it causes to the digestive system, which then upsets the uterus. Not highly recommended.

Spicy food is one of those "old wives tales" that turns out to be true. It can help induce labor, but perhaps only because it upsets the stomach. Not highly recommended!

Spicy food is one of those "old wives tales" that turns out to be true. It can help induce labor, but perhaps only because it upsets the stomach. Not highly recommended!

23. Squats - Doing a few of these each day often helps to move the baby down and into position. Squats use gravity to push the baby downwards, thereby jumpstarting your birth naturally.

24. Squaw Vine - Old remedy. Not sure how well it works. Can be taken during the last six weeks of pregnancy. Helps to thin and soften the cervix. Some medical information warns against using this herb during pregnancy.

25. Stretch and sweep of membranes - Your midwife or doctor can perform this simple procedure. A finger is inserted into the cervix and a gentle 'sweep' of the finger slightly separates the uterus wall and amniotic sac, sometimes leading to labor within hours or days. Some women say it's an easy, painless procedure, others find it very painful. How well it works can also depend on whether you are very far dilated or not.

26. Swimming - Relaxed swimming can help bring out the baby. Both the water and the movement help.

41-42 Weeks: Carefully Researched Use of Castor Oil or Cohosh

27. Castor oil - Statistically speaking, castor oil only works on 57% of women and causes lovely things like diarrhoea and, sometimes, vomiting. The theory is that the cramps in the bowel set off contractions. Opinion is still out as to whether castor oil causes babies to pass meconium in the womb, but most women using castor oil are overdue and babies that are overdue are more likely to pass meconium.

Warning: Please read the article linked above before using castor oil and make sure you're fully informed about how to induce safely this way.

28. Black and blue cohosh - Black and blue cohosh are two different herbs that, when taken together as a tincture, can help induce and regulate contractions. Some midwives use it during labor to strengthen uterine contractions. There have been some studies that claim the herbs have bad side effects for mother and/or baby, however. I'd recommend further research first, about how black and blue cohosh works and the risks of using it. If you decide to use cohosh, make sure you don’t take anymore than the manufacturer recommends.

More Natural Ways to Help You Go Into Labor

While the above methods have the most science behind them, there are still a number of natural induction methods that some mothers swear by. While some of them may be "old wives' tales," they certainly can't hurt to try. So if you're overdue and want that baby out, ask your midwife or doctor about trying these methods.

29. A bumpy car ride - Sometimes the baby just needs a little bit of jiggling to get into the correct position.

30. Chinese food - Not sure why, but some people have claimed this works. Or maybe they just ate Chinese food all the time anyway, so they thought it was responsible for the onset of labor. Either way, it's worth a try!

31. Balsamic Vinegar - According to the What to Expect book, balsamic vinegar can help bring on labor. However, it might not work until you're already dilated. Add a dash to your salad. Definitely won't hurt to try!

ways-to-induce-labour-naturally

32. Dancing - Don't do anything too drastic; pole dancing might be a bit much! But if you get in there and swing your hips around a lot, there's a chance baby might think about coming out.

33. Mandarin Oil - I had a friend who was told that rubbing mandarin oil on her heels would send her into labor. It didn't work for her, but it might for you!

34. Quinine - Be sure to check the dosage with a medical professional. Reputedly, it releases oxytocin, which can help bring on labor.

35. Eggplant - A lot of people swear by eggplant parmagiana. Again, it's delicious and good for you, so go ahead and eat as much as you'd like!

ways-to-induce-labour-naturally

36. Swinging on a swing - Similar to a bumpy car ride but probably a bit easier on the mother.

37. Orgasms - Orgasms cause contractions, which is one of the reasons they feel so good. It's also why many women enjoy orgasms more during pregnancy! You can try this method alone or with a partner . . . whatever you're comfortable with.

48. Thyme tea - Reportedly, thyme tea can cause stimulate contractions, sending you into labor.

39. A glass of wine - Wine helps release oxytocin, one of the hormones that signals the body to go into labor. However remember that drinking during pregnancy is NOT recommended. Check with your doctor first.

40. Skipping/galloping - You might feel a bit self-conscious skipping around your house or neighborhood, but it works according to the same mechanism that walking does. It uses gravity to help get the baby into position.

Thank You for Reading!

Please note that I am a work-at-home mum who makes a living writing online. If you're planning to copy this article elsewhere, please take a moment to link back to it. If you are not seeing this article on WeHaveKids.com, then the article is in breach of copyright and you may be at risk of having a DMCA filed against you or the site where it is posted. I've had to post this due to the number of people reposting my content without any attribution. Thank you for understanding.

Sources Cited

  1. Tiran, Denise "Can raspberry leaf tea help to ease labour?" Babycentre.co.uk Retreived from https://www.babycentre.co.uk/x545986/can-raspberry-leaf-tea-help-to-ease-labour
  2. "Evening Primrose Oil" WebMD.com Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1006-evening%20primrose%20oil.aspx?activeingredientid=1006
  3. Dove D. & Johnson P., (1999 May-Jun) "Oral evening primrose oil: its effect on length of pregnancy and selected intrapartum outcomes in low-risk nulliparous women." Journal of Nurse Midwifery 44(3):320-4 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10380450
  4. Al-Kuran O, Al-Mehaisen L, Bawadi H, Beitawi S & Amarin Z., (2011) "The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery." Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 31(1):29-31. doi: 10.3109/01443615.2010.522267 Retreived from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21280989
  5. "Squawvine" WebMD.com Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-745-SQUAWVINE.aspx?activeIngredientId=745&activeIngredientName=SQUAWVINE
  6. Brooks, Dominique W. "Black and Blue Cohosh to Induce Labor" LovetoKnow Retrieved from http://herbs.lovetoknow.com/Black_and_Blue_Cohosh_to_Induce_Labor


A Helpful Article About Birth & Babies

  • How to Have a Shorter Labor
    Some natural and effective methods to decrease the length of your labor so you can meet your little one more quickly.

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.

© 2010 Susannah Birch

Comments

Rose on July 28, 2020:

Hello, please i am 25 weeks pregnant and i do not want to continue with it. Whay can i do so that the pregnancy will stop. Someone should help.

Kelsey on May 21, 2020:

There ought to be a warning when suggesting Quinine as an inducer . . . Quinine has a very bad affect on ears and has been known to cause babies to be born with severe hearing loss or even deaf.

Anisa Cox on October 07, 2019:

Please do not take black or blue cohosh. There are several studies that have shown it to have unpredictable and dangerous side effects. https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-taking-blu...

Always do your research and consult medical professionals before self medicating.

Carla1986 on May 07, 2019:

I’m 36wks pregnant and want to induce labor on my own. What are some recommendations??

Carls Thickens on November 20, 2018:

This is a very well thought out and informative list. I’ve been trying to help my wife induce naturally for a few days now and we will definitely be trying some of these methods. Although, I was pretty shocked to see the term “squ*w” for method #24. For those that don’t know, this shrub often goes by the names mitchella repens or partridge berry. The term “squ*w” is a highly offensive and racist term aimed towards Native American women. I doubt whoever wrote this knew the term was racist, but now you know. Thanks for reading my comment. I hope everyone has an easy, uncomplicated delivery!

Kaylee on August 03, 2018:

With my first born I went into labor at 38 weeks simply by just by having sex with the hubby. It broke my water.

This wasn’t really on there. Saying anything about sex

Stacy on May 29, 2018:

Is a baby's insides fully developed at 30 weeks

Steph on May 23, 2018:

I can't really say if any of these work or not...but I can say that there are times when I think it's important that a baby comes a little early (a week or two) I am now on baby #6 and the first 3 were early and the last 2 were not...my last 2 were 9 lbs and 9 lbs 6.4 Oz...this is something that's hard on mom and baby...mind you these two were both also born with clubbed feet which they couldn't tell me for sure if it was from them staying in there 'full term's or something else...right now I am at 35 weeks 4 days...I'm doing ok and baby is doing great...my issues...well there are a few pain factors but of course I deal with it for the health and safety of my child. I have gotten a crazy pinched nerve in my leg, a leg that tries to come out of place constantly, pubic bone separation and back problems from before pregnancy...I am hoping that little man comes a week or 2 before his due date not so much because I am uncomfortable...but because I'm worried if he goes full term he will end up running out of room.and end up with clubbed feed like my other 2...which is months worth of them wearing casts and braces and it's truly heartbreaking hearing them cry because they don't like their legs being in casts...or their legs held open all day with a bar and having to sleep that way...these things are hard on them and things my younger 2 had to go through...I just wanted to educate everyone that just because some feel the need to go into labor early doesn't make them bad parents most of the time there is a reason why besides mommy is uncomfortable...people truly need to be educated on different things that happen or can happen during pregnancy and realize that there is more than what people normally think...I've had one miscarriage (at about 3 months) and it's always hard losing a child but sometimes I feel that in the babies best interest sometimes we have to go against what the book says and treat people as individuals and not like they are just a number.

Rachel on May 12, 2018:

I'm 38 weeks pregnant

Jodi Richardson on April 30, 2018:

Im 39 weeks and have preeclampsia this whole going to the doctor every 3 days to have my blood pressure checked is driving me crazy i feel pressure on my pelvic bone that leaves something to be desired my precious angel kicks me so hard in the ribs that it hurts all the time i am over this pregnancy mind i u this is my 3rd baby but 1st girl so these i wil be trying for sure

Momma ingram on April 29, 2018:

39 weeks pregnant today, with third son... due date may 8th,2018

Tiffany on November 17, 2017:

I am 4 days from my due date and am already 3 cm diolated. My baby is just as ready to greet the world as my husband and I are. I am going to try most of these methods and see if anything works. Getting in warm shower now, thenlooking forward to making love to my husband, followed by some excersize. Unfortunately, I don't have any of the herbs they suggest so I'm going to do every thing I do have excess to. Fingers crossed, legs not

ivy on October 02, 2017:

my sister (whom I still have the absolute p l e a s u r e of living with -_-) is only two days past her due date, but we already need him out now!!! we've been doing ALL of these, and I hope it works!! (mostly because she won't stop complaining about having that child in her and we all want her to shut up) X'D wish us luck!

Zahira on October 01, 2017:

I'm 38 weeks and 4 days pregnant & I'm so ready to have my son

Lexy on September 20, 2017:

36 weeks pregnant with twins I'm soooo ready to go into labor

Chyna on August 26, 2017:

I'm 35 weeks and 4 days and want to go ahead and get stuff going. This baby is taking a toll of me...

Anonymous on August 18, 2017:

Check your spelling of the word exercise

Georgeocean becks on June 29, 2017:

Have a baby. I am like 40 weeks

Krystal on June 01, 2017:

How did you start a business writing online?

Lexis on May 23, 2017:

ill be 40 weeks in 4 days. bought a pineapple two days ago and later that night lost my plug. wanted to get it moving along now. lol. and castor oil worked for me with my first pregnancy. had her the day after taking it. but thanks for the info. :)

Laya on April 25, 2017:

There is no natural way to induce labour. Honestly, I was ready to try anything when I was overdue and nothing works. I talked to my doctor and she said there's either patience or pitocin. I suggest patience.