If you’re attempting to have the most natural labor possible, you’re going to want to avoid artificial induction at all costs. Not only are artificially-induced contractions often significantly stronger and more painful, but starting labor unnaturally can likely lead to further complications. The current state of your cervix will determine how likely the onset of labor is. No amount of any of these, save number one maybe, will produce a baby if it’s not time.
Sure, there are plenty of old wive’s tales for starting labor naturally, including eating spicy foods or taking a ride down a bumpy road. But the following list consists of things that can work for sure, if your body is ready. To get labor going there are several non-invasive things that you can do, some of which are more likely to work than others. Start at the beginning of this list, and gradually work your way to the end if each concept prior is unsuccessful. To give them time to work, wait at least a day between each trial. As long as you are past your due date, trying the following things should be safe. You could print this list to show your caregiver, and ask her how she feels about you trying them.
The top ten ways to naturally induce labor are:
TEN: Start Nesting I was between four and ten days overdue with my second, depending on my actual EDD, when I got the intense urge to clean house. I had already did the typical nesting rituals of washing baby clothes, putting out baby items and setting up for the birth, but this was an urge to scour darn near every surface of my home. No baby of mine was coming into this world with a house looking like this, I thought! That day I swept, mopped, vacuumed and scrubbed, and by six o’clock that evening, I knew that I was in labor.
NINE: Intercourse If you are experiencing a low-risk, normal pregnancy without any complications, then there is no reason not to partake in normal sexual activity. In fact, why not up the ante now that it may possibly induce labor? Semen has prostaglandins in it which softens the cervix, and having an orgasm will cause the uterus conract. Both may cause labor to begin., so get that baby out the same way it got in. Even if it doesn’t work, it’s a fun way to pass the time.
EIGHT: Pelvic Rocks/Tilts If you feel like labor is on the brink, or if it keeps starting and stalling, it may be because there is not enough pressure on your cervix from the baby’s head. Doing pelvic rocks -or tilts- will help to move the baby into a snugger position against the cervix and can stimulate stronger contractions. On your hands and knees, lean your upper torso towards the floor and move your hips up and down, back and forth. It’s a good idea to do these regardless, and you can start them at any time during your pregnancy to help ensure a good position of the baby.
SEVEN: Reflexology and Acupressure These are essentially two different words for the same thing. Both are proven very effective for causing strong contractions. For full instructions, read more at Let’s Talk About Reflexology During Pregnancy and Labor.
SIX: Evening Primrose Oil This comes in a capsule similar-looking to vitamin E. This is not an herb to induce your labor but to help ripen your cervix, possibly making your labor faster. You can take up to 5 a day after 38 weeks of pregnancy. You could even insert a capsule, placing it directly against the cervix to help ripen it that way. It tends to work because it contains precursors to prostaglandins. There is little risk to taking it after 38 weeks; its typical result will be a softened cervix.
FIVE: Trust Touch TTouch, as it is also referred to, is an interesting new approach to starting labor with the power of touch. Similar to acupressure but not limited to specific points on the body, it is gaining momentum as another way to induce labor naturally. Read a full description of it in Let’s Talk About Touch During Labor.
FOUR: Nipple Stimulation This can be quite effective, so it is generally not advised to be done until you’ve reached your EDD. Stimulation of the nipples releases the hormone oxytocin, and will cause contractions of the uterus, which is why breastfeeding after birth is so important to not only your baby but your own body as well. It helps your uterus return to its normal size.
THREE: Black and Blue Cohosh These herbs are INCREDIBLY strong, depending on how much you take. They are not to be used without direction from your midwife or a naturalpathic practicioner. They are available at health food stores in tincture form. The blue cohosh is supposed to make stronger more effective contractions. The black cohosh is supposed to regulate the contractions and make them more effective. The overuse of these herbs can be dangerous, and if you are anemic cohosh may possibly worsen your condtion, so do NOT take it. For more information about labor-inducing herbs, see Let’s Talk About Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy.
TWO: Castor Oil This may be an unpleasant way to induce labor “naturally”. I’m sure what exactly is “natural” about drinking the nasty oil, but it will likely cause contractions, if not only severe diarrhea. It’s safe to say that most women would not want to experience diarrhea on top of labor pains, so this is certainly a last-ditch effort.
And the NUMBER ONE most effective way to naturally induce labor is:
The Waiting Game If you are past your due date and still haven’t gone into labor, chances are that you will soon. If none of these things has helped your labor to start, then your body is just not ready. Talk to your caregiver about how long you should wait before artificial induction. And ask yourself, What’s the rush? I’ve never met a person who graduated from college while still in the womb. There are significant risk factors for overdue babies, but there are even more for premature infants. It is better to trust in your body than to augment its timetable. To that I say: You can’t possibly be pregnant forever!