This post is all about natural ways to induce labor at home so you can get that sweet baby out of your belly and into your arms.
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You are just done!
I was there too sister. Near the end of my pregnancy, I was working 12 hour nursing shifts and could barely bend over to put on my compressions socks.
I. Was. Miserable.
But before we get into all the ways to induce labor at home, I want to share something I wish I would have done differently.
We all get to the other side of this pregnancy thing and once it’s over, it’s over.
I remember thinking that if I woke up in this much pain everyday, I don’t think life would be worth living. I seriously thought that!
But the great part about pregnancy is the pain will end and you will return to your fully functioning state very soon.
I wish I would have been kinder to my body at the end. I wish I would have taken more naps, went out on maternity leave a few weeks earlier, and taken better care of myself and my still growing baby.
Instead I saw my only way out of pregnancy as putting myself into early labor. This wasn’t great for me or for my baby because I had a lot of unnecessary interventions during my medical induction.
You can read my full story here.
If you aren’t yet to term, in addition to trying to help your labor along, also do some special things to feel more comfortable so you can get through the remaining time of pregnancy!
The reality is, most “due dates” aren’t really accurate and it’s more of a guess. So don’t worry if you are past date by a few days.
That being said, if you are term or a little late, there are tons of natural ways to induce labor and also prep your body for a smooth birth.
Let’s look at what we can do.
11 Effective Ways to Induce Labor at Home
The core of a pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which is believed to help soften the cervix and cause uterine contractions. There isn’t a ton of research to back this up other than a couple studies done on rats, which did show an increase in uterine contractions after they were given pineapple.
From personal experience, I ate a pineapple a day near the end of my pregnancy. I was willing to do anything!
Eating a ton of pineapple did have some major other benefits that I didn’t orginally think about or plan for…
The increased fiber helped to keep the bowels moving. This not only seemed to stimulate my uterus, but it also saved me from going to the bathroom during birth because I “cleared the pipes” on a regular basis!
There definitely isn’t any harm with eating pineapple near the end of pregnancy. Pineapple is high in many vital nutrients including B vitamins, folate, and important electrolytes.
Whether or not pineapple actually helps to induce labor, it is a very beneficial snack for the third trimester to prepare the body for the work to come.
Having sex is one of those paths of least resistance when it comes to tricking the body to go into labor. (Even though it can be somewhat awkward) This method has actually been studied and shown to INCREASE the likelihood of labor starting. (source)
Sex helps in a few ways:
The uterus drops really low near the end of pregnancy so sex causes irritation which causes the uterus to contract.
There are also natural prostaglandins in semen which help with cervical ripening. (source) So leave those babies inside for a bit!
At the same time, when a woman has an orgasm, there is a release of oxytocin which also helps to initiate labor. (source) All the more reason to get busy!
So basically if you are going to attempt sex to initiate labor, it helps if both parties have an orgasm.
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into the body with the goal of balancing energy or, Qi. This form of medicine originated from ancient China but is now being used all over the world.
The question is will acupuncture actually help induce labor?
There isn’t much “scientific evidence” that proves acupunture directly induces labor. That doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of women testifying that acupucture helped.
Acupuncture is useful in turning breech babies, managing labor pain, and can help to calm the mind before labor so it is less stressful. (source)
Since acupuncture is so well studied and has been practiced safely for centuries, there is little to lose. It is definitely worth a try if you are desperate to go into labor!
**Acupunture can be used throughout pregnancy to manage morning sickness and other pregnancy ailments so it may be worthwhile to get a practitioner ahead of time.**
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
You can and should drink red raspberry leaf tea throughout your pregnancy in preparation for labor. This herbal tonic has been used throughout history to increase blood flow to the uterus, prevent miscarriage, and decrease discomfort during labor. (source)
Although it may not directly induce labor, if you drink red raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy, you are less likely to have a complicated pregnancy and birth.
It also is high in many important vitamins such as Vitamin A, C, E, potassium, magnesium, and iron (which we all need a little more of when we are sharing blood with another person).
Evening Primrose Oil
A lot of midwives and even some OBGYNs recommend supplementing with evening primrose oil at the end of pregnancy. Evening primrose oil contains essential fatty acids that are precursors to prostaglandin synthesis. Remember how we talked about prostaglandins being responsible for cervical ripening.
Although it does seem like evening primrose oil will help with cervical ripening, one study found that it increased the risk of prolonged rupture of membranes. (source)
I can personally attest to this because I took evening primrose oil near the end of my pregancy and my membranes were ruptured for a full week before I realized it.
Since there are other ways to enhance cervical ripening (like the more fun semen source) it may be better to skip this one all together. Definitely talk in depth with your provider and their experience with evening primrose oil before you attempt to take this orally or insert it vaginally.
Exercise is highly recommended for pregnancy and could help you go into labor faster.
One of the two best exercises for late pregnancy is walking and swimming.
By the end of my pregnancy, walking was about all I was really able to do even though I exercised the entire pregnancy. The night before my water started leaking, my husband and I took a long walk on the beach.
Swimming is another great exercise for the last trimester. It feels really good to be suspended in water and it helps with mobility. We can get really tight near the end of pregnancy since it’s so hard to move. It is helpful for labor to keep our muscles relaxed and swimming is an optimal way of accomplishing this.
You may have heard about using nipple stimulation for labor induction before.
Nipple stimulation normally causes oxytocin to be released which helps with milk letdown. While you are still pregnant, the oxytocin will help your uterus contract. This is one of the protective mechanisms of the body to control bleeding postpartum. As your baby nurses, your uterus shrinks down which pinches off the blood vessels in the uterine wall.
Truthfully, it takes A TON of nipple stimulation to have any effect. I personally tried this by hooking myself up to my breast pump and hoped for the best.
All this really did was make my nipples sore and didn’t start labor.
I read something really interesting the other day that one women used a TENS Unit around her nipples for an entire day which actually put her into labor!
Normally TENS Units are an alternative therapy for pain management but using one for nipple stimulation is actually quite genious.
If you like spicy food it could potentially start labor by causes GI distress. There isn’t a whole lot of evidence to back this up.
I am half Spanish and used to love spicy food so I was excited to try this method. But alas, during pregnancy I because extra sensitive to spicy foods and now even the mildest of salsas taste hot to me!
I still manned up and gave this method a go. All that happened was my little baby got the hiccups right near my rib cage. Not fun!
There is plenty of evidence that castor oil does indeed increase your chances of inducing labor at home. It does this by causing GI distress which in turn causes uterine irritation and contractions.
Castor oil is considered one of the more risky ways to induce labor.
Let’s think about this for a second. If you eat castor oil, you will likely experience bloating, gas, increased peristalsis, and diarrhea. That can cause a lot of pain (who needs more of that at this stage) and even worse, dehydration.
The last thing the body needs to be before active labor is dehydrated so if you do decide to try this method, make sure you run it by your provider. Make sure to support hydration by drinking plenty of water and other drinks that replenish electrolytes such as coconut water or oral rehydration salts.
Homeopathic remedies are a safe alternative therapy to help move labor along.
Pulsatilla 30C is used when malpresentation is suspected or if the cervix fails to dilate. If your baby isn’t in the optimal position, it can make labor prolonged or even unsafe so Pulsatilla could be a great option.
Caulophyllum 30C is the diluted homeopathic preparation of Black Cohosh and used for “false” labor pains after 41 weeks.
This can be alternated with Cimicifunga 30C which is the homeopathic preparation of Blue Cohosh.
Although homeopathy is very safe because it is so diluted that nothing of the original substance exists other than its energetic footprint, pregnancy is one of those instances where it is best to consult a homeopath for guidance.
Some midwives may have experience using homeopathy during pregnancy so you should ask your provider for their input.
The very best way to bring labor along is actually to stop thinking about it.
You are in the final moments of your pregnancy and the more relaxed your mind and body is, the faster it will go into labor.
The more you dwell on how miserable it is the more stressed you will become. This will not benefit your body or increase the likelihood of it initiating labor on its own.
Trust me, I know how hard this can be! I have a few suggestions for how to relax at the end of pregnancy:
- Massage- get one daily from your partner and weekly from a professional
- The pool- go to the pool everyday to give your body a break from gravity
- Have a plan- Try to plan out activities that excite you everyday so you have something to look forward to and aren’t wallowing in misery
- Pedicures- a weekly must at the end of pregnancy
- Focus on nutrition- do your best to fuel your body with healthy foods and plenty of water
- Chiropractors can be super helpful to keep your spine aligned, position your baby, and make for an easier birth
- Surround yourself with friends so you can laugh and take your mind off things
- Save decorating the nursery for the end so you will have a project to distract you
- Read inspirational books or other moms’ labor stories
- Prayer should have been the number one suggestion. Pray and ask God to bring your baby safely and healthy on the right day. He knows the perfect birthday for your little baby.
Those final weeks of pregnancy are some really long days. Lower your expectations of what you “should be” accomplishing each day and do your best to care for your body and mind. Fuel your body with high quality nutrition and pregnancy-safe supplements so you are in peak performace shape for labor.
Have you tried any of these natural labor induction methods? I would love to hear about it in the comments!