Evening Primrose Oil for Labor: What’s the Story?

last year5 min read
Last updated: Mar 17 2023

Are you looking for ways to kick-start labor? What’s the story with evening primrose oil for labor? It’s totally natural, right? Read on for answers to this and more.

Evening Primrose Oil for Labor

You’re almost full term, and man do you feel FULL of baby.


Chances are you’re ready to try anything to get labor started – long walks, pineapple, bouncing on a ball, and breaking out the breast pump.

But what about evening primrose oil for labor? Does that really work?

In this article: 📝

  • What is evening primrose oil?
  • Is it safe to take evening primrose oil while pregnant?
  • Does evening primrose oil induce labor?
  • Can primrose oil make labor and delivery easier and faster?
  • When should I take primrose oil to induce labor?
  • So does primrose oil for labor work?

What is evening primrose oil?

We get evening primrose oil, or EPO, from a plant native to North and South America (also found throughout Europe and parts of Asia).

It’s been used for centuries to treat everything from bruises to sore throats and, more recently, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, breast pain, menopause, and PMS.

EPO has also long been said to help get the uterus ready for and induce labor.

It can be taken in capsule form either orally or inserted into the vagina.

We’ve all been on those forums where mamas swear it’s what kicked off their labor and made the whole thing shorter and easier.

“An easier labor,” you say? Tell us more!

Is it safe to take evening primrose oil while pregnant?

EPO is considered generally safe for most adults, and may be safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

It can cause gastrointestinal issues, nausea, and headaches.

There is some evidence that taken together with Vitamin D, EPO may help with gestational diabetes.

EPO is not recommended for those with epilepsy or schizophrenia.

And because it can act as a blood thinner, it’s a no-go for folks with blood clotting issues.

Which makes it a concern for women who end up needing a cesarean birth.

Pregnancy is such a delicate time, it’s always a good idea to approach any medication or supplement with caution, even natural options.

Always check in with your midwife or doctor before trying anything.

Does evening primrose oil induce labor?


Not a satisfying answer for sure, but the fact is that while many mamas swear that it worked for them, the science is much more conflicted.

It’s thought that the linolenic acid in EPO may get the prostaglandins going.

This may help ripen and efface (thin) the cervix and even start labor.

What makes it tricky to gauge whether EPO can in fact induce labor, is that for every study that shows it to be effective in ripening the cervix, there seems to be another that shows the opposite.

Hence the “maybe.”

Can primrose oil make labor and delivery easier and faster?

Again we’re coming at you with a maybe.

The idea is, taking EPO in the run-up to labor helps to “tone” the uterus, making it stronger and leading to an easier birth.

But again, the science is a little at odds with what tons of mamas (and even some healthcare providers) have been saying forever.

Even though it was a small study of just over 100 women, this one found that EPO did not shorten labor time.

It may even have made it longer and increased the need for assisted delivery.

When should I take primrose oil to induce labor?

The ACOG recommends that if both mama and baby are healthy, induction shouldn’t be considered before 39 weeks.

That’s considered full term.

Just remember, even at 39 weeks, baby may still need more time to bake to perfection.

As every baker knows, each oven bakes a little differently.

Cakes at your friend’s house may take an extra five or so minutes than they do at yours.

So it’s definitely worth checking in with your midwife or doctor before attempting any kind of induction, even natural methods at home.

If it’s something they support, they will advise on the evening primrose oil dosage to induce labor, as well as the method of ingestion.

You’ll likely start with low doses working towards 2000 mg per day.

But be sure to work with your healthcare provider on this.

So does primrose oil for labor work?

It’s clear we need more research. Right now, the scientific consensus is not definitive when it comes to using evening primrose oil to induce labor.

Some studies show it helps, some show no difference, and some studies suggest it could be harmful.

So, this is where we recommend you chat with your doctor or midwife.

They will have specific recommendations based on your medical history and their experience.

But if you’re looking for natural ways to get labor going, there are many other options you can try safely.

A spicy meal followed by some spicy midnight activity (!) could do the trick.

You may just end up with heartburn. But also a side of baby.

🎵 More from the 411:
Pregnancy Must-Haves: Top 10 Pregnancy Products by Peanut
5 Ways to Advocate for Yourself During Pregnancy and Postpartum
53 Empowering Pregnancy Affirmations
How to Induce Labor (Yourself)
Your Intro to Lamaze Breathing: What You Need to Know
Preparing for Childbirth: Helpful Things to Know
What are the Ways to Induce Labor?
18 Labor Tips For Moms
How to Prepare for a Baby: 11 Tips
Signs That Labor is 24–48 Hours Away
Safe Ways to Go into Labor Tonight
Late Decelerations: All You Need to Know About
How to Time Contractions

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