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How Can I Induce Labor Naturally?

I've heard so many different tips for inducing labor naturally. Does anything actually work?

Re:

I've heard so many different tips for inducing labor naturally. Does anything actually work?

The Bump Expert

Sorry, but no, not really -- at least, nothing that's been proven both safe and effective. Some of the methods you may have heard about:

Having sex

True, orgasms may bring on contractions, and there’s a hormone called prostaglandin in semen that’s also in the popular induction medication Pitocin. But according to a study from BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, having sex hasn’t been proven to jump-start labor. Plus, it’s the more concentrated, synthetic version of prostaglandin in Pitocin. That being said, most doctors will tell you if you have a partially softened and effaced cervix and are at full term, there’s a chance sex could put you over the edge. Hey, this could be your last chance to roll in the hay for a while -- nothing wrong with taking advantage.

Eating spicy food

The common old wives’ tale says spicy food could cause enough stimulation to trigger uterine contractions. But nothing has been proven yet, except a good chance of heartburn.

Gulping down castor oil

The reasoning behind this one: Castor oil is a strong laxative, and bowel stimulation caused by drinking it (yeah, gross) may make contractions kick in. Still interested? A recent study found that it does increase the chances of labor after 24 hours of consumption, but it also can increase the chances of baby passing meconium in the amniotic sac, which can lead to respiratory problems for baby. So not worth it.

Stimulating your nipples

Labor-inducing oxytocin, also found in Pitocin, is released when your nipples are stimulated (with your fingers, your partner’s fingers or even a breast pump), but experts say this is pretty risky to try at home. Conclusions published in the journal Midwifery found it’s possible to overstimulate your uterus with nipple stimulation, which means your contractions and baby's well-being would need to be monitored.

Taking a long walking

The theory here is that being out and about and upright will lower the baby, and the resulting pressure on your cervix will lead to dilation. It’s not a sure thing, but it could do the trick.

Getting acupuncture

Some moms swear they induced labor with acupuncture, which supposedly regulates blood flow and can help dilate the cervix (although all treatments are purely external). But a recent study out of Denmark found no difference in spontaneous labor between women at 41 weeks treated with acupuncture and those not treated.

Having your “membranes stripped”

Here’s how this works: Your doctor will sweep a finger around your cervix to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac, releasing prostaglandin hormones. Bumpies say this can be pretty uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but it could be worth it; at least one study found significantly more women went into labor after a sweeping than those who didn’t receive one. Results can be immediate -- many reported going into labor just hours after having their membranes stripped.

Taking an herbal remedy

Echinacea, red-leaf tea, blue cohosh… The general rule for whatever herbal remedy you're offered: There's no evidence that it works, and you should definitely talk to your doctor before taking anything. According to a study in the journal Current Opinions in Obstetrics and Gynecology, several adverse effects have been reported from taking things such as evening primrose oil, like ruptured membranes and longer labor. Like nipple stimulation, some herbs carry this risk of overstimulating your uterus. One herbal remedy the study deems okay is ginger -- but it helps to alleviate nausea, not induce labor. Don’t worry -- baby can’t stay in there forever.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Signs You're Going Into Labor

Craziest Places Moms Went Into Labor

Tool: Contraction Counter

The Bump Editors

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

Trying anything is better than using Pitocin which can also led to strong contractions which can hurt the baby and the mom. And although Pitocin may be regulated, it's still very easy to give too much and then have to back down when it is often too late. Also, sperm has something in it which can help induce labor. I can't remember the exact thing, but there is a medication which doctors use that has this same chemical in it. And no, nothing has any science behind it, but when the medical world uses medicines that have the same chemicals to induce labor, I think that says something.

moose10 |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

most are mainly rumors or extremely unsafe to do on your own. I say let your little one decide when to come out. i know its hard to wait, but learning patients is a big key role in parenthood and its the healthiest and safest way to bring him or her into our world.

murchury15 |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

Evening primrose oil is a natural cervix softener, and can be taken orally or vaginally starting around 38 weeks. There is also an acupressure point on the top of your shoulder, in between where the end of your clavicle is and the point where your shoulder starts to curve upwards to your neck. Squeeze the top with a wide pinching grip, hard enough to border on deep-tissue massage sore/uncomfortable. Squeeze and release after a few seconds. My mom was applying pressure to these points minutes before my water broke. Granted, I was sitting on my birthing ball on my EDD, the day that my membranes were stripped (ask your midwife about this!), and after a few hours of light contractions. But a massage feels good anyway! And I think that all of the above helped me with a smooth natural delivery.

Lithigin |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

At my last check-up before my due date my Doctor "swept my glands". pretty darn painful. However was definately some kind of "natural induction". My water broke within 24 hours!!!

dayonjes18 |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

I had my membranes stripped, had lots of sex, used primrose oil, two sessions of cervical softening and then I had TENS Acupuncture (electrodes set up to the needles in my four gates) when I wanted to get things started and after that session I had my son less than 12 hours later - my labor started around midnight and I had my son at 6:50 am - it was quick, by the time I got to the hospital a little after 5 am I was 9 cm dilated, no drugs needed and was not that painful! I highly encourage those who are serious about labor induction do what works best for you, but Acupuncture is what helped me, I had my son 8 days early - he didn't have to have his birthday on Christmas!

SweetYean |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

Eating fresh pineapple did it for me. After eating a few slices, I started feeling crampy, and a few hours later, my water broke

palita |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

Your baby will not come unless your body is physically ready to deliver a baby, which is usually after week 38/39, so nothing can really bring on early labor. Once your body is at that point, exercise can sometime get labor to progress faster and it can make for an easier delivery if you exercise through out your pregnancy. Prostaglandins in semen, which are released by the man during orgasm can cause contractions to help jump start labor. Nipple stimulation releases hormones that can help labor slowly progress for some women.

amrosenbaum@viterbo.edu |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

My Registered Massage Therapist swears by the pressure points around your ankles and wrists. We tried it in August for our darling baby (I was 40.5 wks at that point), and sure enough, not even 3 hours later, I started having contractions. Check out the pressure points online, so if you do have a massage (of which I highly reccommend during pregnancy), they know not to touch them. (Two other gals in my Husband's office went for pedicures on a thursday, and one started labour on the sunday morning, and the other 10 days later....)

jp03 |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

Acupressure can induce labor as well as relieve pain during childbirth. Acupuncture points have multiple functions so if your partner or doula/midwife learns points that are useful for pain relief, he/she can use the same points to induce labor. Here is an article that talks about labor and acupressure http://www.secondspringhealth.com/acupressure-to-relieve-pain-during-labor

viktoriyasd |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

Lots of sex worked with my first baby! The trick is to do just about nothing else for a couple of days. I think it took 12 times in 3 days, but it worked! Also, my doc had given me the go-ahead to try that method because she was ready.

amberb1283 |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

my due date was september 13, 2011. i have done nipple stimulation, sex, walking so my doctors are talkin about induction or c-section now

jessicajo87 |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

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watson012 |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

The only natural labor induction method is to allow your baby to come when it is good and ready! Just remember there is no such thing as a permanently pregnant woman!

jennjenn5158 |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

Can someone do something about all the spam posts on this page? As for the actual topic at hand, any method of induction should be discussed with your doctor, midwife, and/or doula. It is important to realize that few natural induction methods have been thoroughly studied. Most evidence for and against these methods is purely anecdotal. Am I saying I think none of the methods are valid? Absolutely not, I am saying that you should talk to your healthcare professional and find out how they feel about these methods and what experiences they have had before rushing into anything. I personally think that all of these methods probably do work, but not necessarily for everyone or in every situation.

jasandseth |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

I am 40 + 3 weeks. I've been 3cm dilated and 70% effaced for 2 weeks. I have tried spicey foods, lots of sex, evening primrose oil, acupressure, massages, pineapple, and castor oil, Nothing has worked.

sallyrose80 |

Q&A: What are some natural labor induction methods?

I went for my 39 week apt. I was 0cm dilated and 10-15% effaced :/ My doctor told me to start taking Primrose oil. I take one in the AM orally and one in the PM vaginally. After TWO days of taking it I woke up and lost my mucus plug!

gijaneac |