Looking for ways to naturally induce labor? If your due date has come and gone and you’re tired of waiting, there are some natural methods you can try to give baby a little push. However, it’s worth noting that if your body isn’t ready to give birth, no amount of encouragement is going to help speed the process up!
You’ll find a lot of natural methods are recommended to induce labor. The question is, do they actually work? Here, we’ll run through 10 of the most popular natural recommendations for inducing labor and whether or not they are known to be effective.
1. Ensure Your Body Is Totally Relaxed
Labor is much more likely to start when the body is completely relaxed. That’s why many experts recommended massage as a great way to naturally induce labor.
Studies have revealed that effective massage techniques can help to raise the levels of oxytocin within the body. This is the hormone known to trigger contractions. Many massage therapists claim their methods can help induce labor as they focus on particular pressure points.
It’s not just massages which can help – anything which helps you to relax can work. So, long soaks in the bath, cuddling with your partner and even just getting nice and cozy in bed can help to boost oxytocin levels. Many pregnant women go into labor during the night when their bodies are completely relaxed. So, if you are looking for a safe, healthy way to induce labor, relaxation is one of the first things you should try.
2. Try Some Light Exercise
Light exercise is one of the more commonly recommended ways to induce labor. You’ll often see pregnant women in their later stages of pregnancy walking around trying to kickstart the process. However, unfortunately there is no evidence to suggest exercise has any impact on inducing labor.
While it may not be known for its labor inducing abilities, light exercise is still worth dong when you’re pregnant. If nothing else, it will take your mind off the fact that you’ve gone past your due date. It also delivers stress-reducing benefits, which is great for both you and baby.
3. Evening Primrose Oil
A lot of midwives suggest pregnant women take evening primrose oil. This is known to help thin the cervix as well as dilate it. There are numerous ways to intake evening primrose oil, with capsules being one of the easiest methods to try.
Unfortunately, like many other natural methods recommended, this one isn’t known to be super-effective. In fact, a study carried out in 1999, discovered no link between taking evening primrose oil orally, and the shortening of labor. There are other methods you could try, such as rubbing the oil directly onto the cervix within the last week of your pregnancy. However, before trying any natural, herbal remedy, it’s important to seek advice from your doctor.
4. Try Acupressure
Like acupuncture, acupressure is said to be able to start labor. It’s also sometimes used to restart labor after it has stopped or slowed down. It involves placing pressure onto specific points of the body, stimulating uterine activity.
This method is different to acupuncture as it uses your fingertips, rather than needles. You can also do it yourself or get your partner to do it for you. However, you will need to seek advice from a qualified practitioner beforehand to ensure you’re doing it correctly. As well as being used to induce labor, acupressure can also be used to decrease the discomfort felt during labor.
5. Nipple Stimulation
Out of all of the natural ways to induce labor, nipple stimulation is one of the few to have scientific research to back it up. However, that being said, practitioners warn against using this method as it can potentially cause strong and painful uterine contractions. These can in turn cause the fetal heart rate to lower, proving potentially harmful to baby.
It is thought that the method works as it stimulates the nipples, much in the same way as baby suckling on them. This increases the oxytocin levels, preparing the uterus for labor. In a study, pregnant women who did practice nipple stimulation had an increased chance of going into labor within 72 hours, than those who didn’t use the method.
So, if you’re looking for a natural method that works, nipple stimulation is one to potentially try. However, due to how painful the contractions can be, and the risk it poses to baby, it’s definitely worth avoiding this technique unless you are being monitored by a medical professional.
6. Spicy Food
One of the most well-known old wife’s tales surrounding naturally inducing labor, is spicy foods. It is thought that spicy foods gently irritate the intestines, causing the uterus to contract. However, like most of the natural methods recommended, there is no evidence to back up this claim.
Additionally, spicy foods can actually lead to heartburn. So, you could end up not only still overdue, but suffering with severe heartburn too.
7. Sexual Intercourse
The last thing you feel like doing when you’re in your final weeks of pregnancy, is having sex! However, according to some experts it could help to induce labor. This is because sperm is said to contain prostaglandin hormones. These are responsible for dilating and thinning the cervix.
This one has mixed claims. Some credit having sex late in their pregnancy helped to induce labor, while some studies suggest it can have the opposite effect. Some women have experienced a longer labor due to late-stage sexual intercourse. So, it’s definitely a risk you’ll be taking, albeit a tension-busting one!
8. Castor Oil
Castor oil has been recommended as a natural way to induce labor for a long time now. However, it is starting to become less popular due to the unpleasant side effects it can cause.
The oil is a known laxative, and it can cause uterine contractions or irritation. However, these aren’t actually linked to labor, they’re simply a sign of an upset stomach. A lot of studies have been carried out and all of them have revealed that women who take castor oil are no more likely to go into labor than women who don’t.
So, not only does castor oil not work, it also causes unpleasant stomach troubles – not something you need in the later stages of pregnancy!
9. Raspberry Leaf Tea
Raspberry leaf tea is said to have some pretty extraordinary benefits. It’s claimed the tea can help to shorten labor, tone and strengthen the uterus and increase the effectiveness of your contractions. It’s also often credited to inducing labor, but unfortunately there is no evidence to back this up.
So, while it isn’t likely to induce labor, it still provides some great benefits for when labor naturally arrives. It’s recommended you start drinking it within the third trimester. Experts recommend drinking three to four cups a day for maximum benefits.
10. Membrane Stripping
Finally, membrane stripping is a medical procedure you can have done a week before your due date. Your obstetrician will insert their finger through the opening of the cervix, sweeping it from side to side to separate the membranes from the uterine wall. It can only be done once the cervix has dilated and the process is known to be quite uncomfortable.
This method does have some evidence to back it up. However, while it can induce labor, it can also cause some nasty side effects. Cramping and vaginal bleeding are two of the most common side effects and very rarely it could also lead to membrane rupture. This method should only really be carried out as a last resort.
So, there you have it – the truth about 10 of the most common natural ways to induce labor. Before trying out any natural method, it’s important to talk through your options with a medical professional. Even natural remedies can prove unsafe during pregnancy.
Have you tried any of the methods above to speed up your labor? Let us know how you got on in the comments below.