If you are nearing your due dated (or have already passed it), you may be anxious to welcome your little one into the world. But to do that, you must first go into labor. While you could wait for things to happen naturally or wait for an induction, there are some natural but anecdotal labor induction methods that veteran moms will swear by. If you’re desperate for the contractions to start, want to do things naturally, and have received clearance from your doctor, give one (or all) of these 8 natural labor induction methods a try.
Get Your Body Moving
Exercise is important at all stages of pregnancy, but during the last few weeks, it can encourage contractions. If you’re lucky, those minor contractions will move things on into active labor. If it doesn’t work, then at least you’re helping your body and uterus prepare for the impending birth. Walking is the exercise most commonly used to induce labor, but you can also do stretches, squats, and other pregnancy-friendly exercises.
Sex, Sex, and More Sex
Many childbirth experts will tell you that there’s no scientific evidence to prove that sex induces labor, but I’ve managed to jump-start two of my births with it, and I’m far from alone. Midwives also often recommend this labor induction method – and for good reason! Semen deposits prostaglandins (a hormone similar to the medicines that are used to induce labor), which can soften the cervix and encourage contractions on into the next day. Orgasms also release oxytocin, which can start labor contractions.
Engage in Nipple Stimulation
Nipple stimulation can encourage the release of oxytocin, which may help start labor contractions. If that sounds strange or a little far-fetched, consider what happens to the uterus of a breastfeeding mother; it contracts as she feeds her baby to shrink it back to its normal size, often faster than in non-nursing mothers. (Expert tip: you can try combining nipple stimulation with intercourse to try and increase the amount of oxytocin your body releases.)
Schedule an Acupuncture Session
Although the Western world has only recently picked up on acupuncture to induce childbirth, it’s been used in Asian cultures for centuries. There have also been a few studies on it, including one in which it was determined that acupuncture helped promote ripening of the cervix. However, even if this method does not work, it is a great way to relieve stress as you await the arrival of your baby.
Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Midwives often recommend that expectant mothers drink red raspberry leaf tea as they approach their due date. The belief is that it helps to tone the uterus, which may help prepare it for childbirth. You might also want to consider adding primrose oil to your tea since it is thought to help ripen the cervix. Just remember to clear herbal remedies with your doctor.
Ask Your Doctor to Strip Your Membranes
Membrane stripping is an in-office procedure in which your doctor separates the amniotic sac from the uterus. Doing this may release prostaglandins, which could encourage contractions. However, it is important to keep in mind that this natural induction method can cause your water to break. If you do not deliver within 24 hours, labor may be induced or you may be given a cesarean section, depending on the situation.
Use Some Deep Relaxation Techniques
Stress can do crazy things to your body – it may even prevent you from going into labor! So, if you’re super stressed and awaiting your due date, try engaging in some deep relaxation. Meditate, do some yoga, or simply practice deep breathing. At the very least, it’ll calm your nerves. At best, it may encourage your body to start the labor process.
Eat Something Spicy
Spicy foods can trigger the release of prostaglandins while you digest them, which could induce labor. Just keep in mind that it may not work and heartburn could follow, so make sure you have some antacids on hand, just in case. (Note: if you don’t normally eat spicy foods, pregnancy may not be the best time to start.)