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7 Ways to Induce Labor Naturally

Throughout the course of your pregnancy, excitement continues to grow with your belly. Whether it’s your first baby or second, the due date gives you an estimated idea of when you get to meet your newborn. However, due dates are just that—an estimate. Some women go into labor sooner, while others watch their due date come and go. While several factors can impact this timeline, there are certain parameters that exist to maximize your health and safety in addition to your baby’s wellbeing. In these instances, your doctor may recommend inducing labor. To help you successfully trigger delivery, here are a few ways to naturally and medically induce labor.


When Should Labor be Induced?

There are many reasons that expecting mothers may need to induce labor. One of the most common is when you pass your due date. Since the risk of stillbirth or other complications increases after 42 weeks, labor induction can help mitigate potential problems. Similarly, if your water breaks and you don’t go into labor within 24 hours, the risk of infection increases so labor may be induced. If your pregnancy is further than 34 weeks, your doctor can perform expectant management to monitor your state along with your baby’s real-time condition for natural progression of labor. Each individual circumstance is different, so it’s important to discuss any concerns or questions with your doctor before induction.

In some instances, labor is induced if you or your baby have a health condition that increases the risk the longer that they’re in utero. Induced labor can be more painful than natural labor, so talk to your doctor about your pain reduction options, such as epidurals, ahead of time.


Natural Options for Inducing Labor

There are plenty of opinions on the Internet about which natural options work for inducing labor and which ones are myths. Each woman is different and therefore, hormone production and stimulation will vary across individuals. While there are a few natural options that aren’t scientifically proven to work, some women have experienced success when using them. Always talk to your doctor before trying any of these methods to ensure that you and your baby stay safe prior to delivery. To give you some options, here are seven natural ways to induce labor.


  1. Exercise

    While lacking strong scientific evidence, increasing your heart rate may help your body naturally induce labor. As blood flow to the uterus increases, it could lead to stimulation that jump-starts the process. By walking around, you also increase the gravitational force of your baby’s weight, thus increasing pressure on the uterus and encouraging stimulation.


  2. Undergo Acupuncture

    Acupuncture is widely accepted as a method to treating different ailments. It works by targeting pressure points throughout your body to stimulate different areas. Some people use acupuncture to help stimulate uterine activity. While this is a fairly common option for natural labor induction, it won’t work if your baby isn’t ready to be delivered. If this technique doesn’t work, acupuncture can still help reduce stress levels and elevate your mood during the final weeks of pregnancy. Always talk to your doctor prior to undergoing acupuncture while pregnant.


  3. Try Acupressure

    Another natural option is acupressure. This concept is similar to acupuncture, except without the needles. Instead, pressure is applied to different parts of your body using fingertips or a special massaging tool. For a full body effect, opt for a prenatal massage. Make sure that your therapist is licensed to care for expecting mothers and get pre-approval from your doctor. 


  4. Have Sex

    There are several different reasons that having sex with your partner could help induce labor. When you engage in sexual activity, especially if you have an orgasm, your body releases oxytocin. This hormone is responsible for creating strong bonds with others, but it also plays a large role in childbirth and delivery. Oxytocin can tell your body that it’s time to start uterine contractions, which is helpful when trying to induce labor.

    If your partner is a male, the hormones released with semen can also contribute to inducing labor. During ejaculation, a hormone called prostaglandin is released, which helps in the induction process. Oftentimes, prostaglandins are given as a hormone supplement in the hospital when doctors try to induce labor, as it has been shown to contribute to cervical ripening—the softening of the cervix that helps stimulate dilation.


  5. Stimulate Your Nipples

    For those who don’t want to engage in sexual intercourse, nipple stimulation can produce similar results. Nipple stimulation has also been shown to increase oxytocin production, therefore increasing the likelihood of uterine contractions. There is a lot of research that backs breast stimulation as an effective way to induce labor and avoid medical induction, so it’s worth trying if you’re past your due date.


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  7. Consider Castor Oil

    Castor oil is a natural laxative that’s been used for centuries, making it a controversial way to induce labor. The theory is that when you take a shot of castor oil, it can help to stimulate your bowels and therefore, irritate the uterus enough for contractions to begin. While there are a few studies that back this idea, castor oil often leads to diarrhea and isn’t guaranteed to induce labor. If you’re interested in trying castor oil, make sure that you talk to your doctor prior to doing so to avoid complications.


  8. Evening Primrose Oil

Primrose oil is a natural herb that’s native to North and South America. The oil contains a high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids and has often been used to treat wounds or skin problems. However, recent studies suggest that primrose oil, either taken orally or applied vaginally, can help ripen the cervix. Talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements and if you have placenta previa, it’s best to avoid this herb.

While many people think that eating spicy foods can induce labor, there is no direct link between the two. If you don’t already eat spicy food in your diet, don’t introduce them as a method for inducing labor. They can increase your risk of stomach aches, heartburn, and diarrhea. However, if you already eat and tolerate spicy foods, there’s no reason to omit them from your diet during your pregnancy.


Medical Ways to Induce Labor

If natural labor induction doesn’t work, you may need medical intervention. Most often, this is performed when labor needs to occur to keep you and your baby safe. All of these techniques should be done in a hospital or with medical supervision from a midwife or doctor.

Hormone Supplements

As mentioned, hormones play a vital role in the induction of labor. Prostaglandin helps to ripen the cervix while oxytocin can stimulate uterine contractions. There are natural ways to produce these hormones, but your doctor can also provide you with supplements to induce labor. Prostaglandin can be inserted into the vagina using a gel or it can be taken orally in a tablet form. Oxytocin can also be administered. Another option is using Pitocin, which is a synthetic form of oxytocin. This is administered through an IV but has the potential to increase pain during labor and carries a certain degree of risk to mom and baby. Always discuss your options regarding hormone induction with your doctor.


During an amniotomy, your doctor will rupture your amniotic sac using specific tools to manually break your water and release the amniotic fluid. This has been shown to be an effective way to medically induce labor but requires the supervision of your doctor and needs to be performed in a hospital.

Stripping the Membrane

This is a common option for medical induction performed in the hospital. To strip the membrane, your doctor will use a gloved hand to enter the cervix and move a finger back and forth to separate the lining that connects your amniotic sac to your uterus. Once this occurs, your body releases prostaglandins to prepare the cervix for delivery. Stripping the membrane works for many women but is not guaranteed to induce labor.

Everyone experiences labor differently. If your pregnancy progresses along naturally, labor induction isn’t required. However, needing to be induced does not mean that there will be something wrong with your baby. It’s done as a proactive measure to keep you both safe and healthy. Always discuss any concerns with your doctor and get prepared early. To help you on your journey into parenthood, Byram Healthcare offers insurance-covered breast pumps to new and expecting moms. Browse our breast pump product guide and place your order today.