Due date passed? Baby bump getting ever bigger? It’s understandable that you might start looking for ways to get those contractions started. And you’ll find there’s no shortage of tips about how to induce labor out there.
From eating fruit, to having sex, to twiddling your nipples (yes, really), there are loads of methods you can apparently use to bring on birth – without even leaving your home!
But are any of these natural induction methods truly effective? Let’s find out.
In this article: 📝
- How to induce labor at home
- Natural ways to induce labor: Worth a try?
How to induce labor at home
How can I naturally induce labor at home? Well, we’ll divide up the methods into two broad categories:
- Things you can eat
- Things you can do
Let’s take a look at 5 (potentially) labor-inducing foods first.
Inducing labor with food
1. Castor oil
First on the list: castor oil (a vegetable oil made from castor beans). It’s a powerful laxative – when you drink it, it helps move your bowels so you can poop more easily. It’s thought that this stimulation of your bowels can also stimulate your uterus and bring on contractions.
The truth? All that intestinal action might irritate your uterus, but there’s no proof it will actually make you go into labor. Plus, too much castor oil can give you stomach cramps and diarrhea. Not fun.
2. Spicy food
Same idea as castor oil. By eating spicy food, you’re stimulating your bowels which then (in theory) stimulates contractions in your uterus. No solid evidence for this either, sadly. But feel free to enjoy that curry – just beware of heartburn!
When you’re wondering how to naturally induce labor, surely a method that involves eating delicious fruit is a winner. But why pineapple? Well, it contains an enzyme called bromelain, and it’s thought this could somehow make its way to your cervix and help ripen it ready for labor.
Again, there’s no real proof that this works. The acid in your stomach pretty much puts the bromelain out of action. Still tasty though.
There is research to suggest that eating dates in the last few weeks of your pregnancy can help with labor in a couple of ways. It may help your cervix ripen and dilate at the start of labor. And it could make you less likely to need drugs to stimulate contractions during labor.
5. Herbal remedies
Some herbal remedies, such as raspberry leaf tea and evening primrose oil, are thought to help your body prepare for labor. But, again, there isn’t much evidence to back up these claims.
Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal remedy, to make sure it’s safe for you during pregnancy.
Things you can do to induce labor
How to induce labor at home without rummaging through your pantry or refrigerator? Here’s what you could try:
Taking gentle exercise is great for relieving stress in the last few weeks of pregnancy, and it can help strengthen your muscles ready for labor. It’s not proven to actually get labor started though.
Having sex, especially if you reach orgasm, can cause your body to release oxytocin – the hormone that stimulates contractions. Also, if your partner is male the prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds) in his semen may help ripen your cervix.
A couple of caveats: Avoid penetrative sex after your water has broken, as this could put you at risk of infection. And it’s best not to have sex if your doc has advised against it – if you have placenta previa, for example.
Of all the natural induction methods, nipple stimulation is the one with the most evidence to back it up. So, what triggers labor to start with this technique?
It’s our old friend oxytocin again. When you stimulate your nipples (by hand or using a breast pump) for several hours a day, you’re encouraging your body to produce oxytocin. This then sends a message to your uterus to get the contractions going.
If you want to try this method, chat with your healthcare provider first. They can advise you on how to go about it in the safest way.
Natural ways to induce labor: Worth a try?
Remember that your due date is only an estimate of when your baby will be born. If you’re a little way past that, there’s a good chance junior will be here soon – without you having to do anything special to help them along.
And the main thing to keep in mind if you’re thinking about how to induce labor yourself? Check with your doc first.
Good luck, mama!
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