Ways to induce labor are many and varied. Here we talk about the more natural ways to induce labor. You will most likely hear about these methods from your Midwife or Doctor too.
There are many factors that influence the start of labor . Scientists are still discovering new information even now. It is well known that a combination of factors needs to be in place before labor can start naturally. One of the most important issues is how relaxed you are and what position your baby is lying in.
If your baby is lying in a posterior position, also known as back-to-back, then it can be much harder for him to instigate labor. Your baby will try to trigger labor in late pregnancy when he or she is ready. Babies do this by putting pressure with their head on your cervix or neck of the womb. If a baby is in the posterior position all the pressure will go onto your lower back or bowel.
To encourage your baby into the forward-lying position, with him looking towards your back, spend ten minutes several times a day on all-fours. With your knees hip-width apart and your hands shoulder width apart sway from side to side gently. Make sure your back is level and as flat as possible.
Some of the natural ways to encourage labor to start are itemized below. Other ways which haven't been included but are equally effective include Cranial Osteopathy and Homeopathy.
Being Physically Active
Keeping fit and doing regular exercise throughout your pregnancy will make it less likely that you'll go overdue and be offered induction of labor. Pregnancy yoga is also another good preparation for labor. Walking, especially up steep hills is helpful if you are having a long pre-labor and want to help it along.
What's happening here is that you will be leaning forward much more as you head up the hill. You can sometimes simply stand in the house or garden and lean over a piece of furniture or your partner or a friend. You will be helping your baby to put the right sort of pressure onto the cervix encouraging the neck of the uterus to efface (thin out and get ready for dilating). This is a good position to take up if you are having strong Braxton-Hicks contractions. These are the 'practice contractions' where your uterus is preparing and practicing for labor.
Walking up stairs or steps has the same effect. You need to be leaning at approximately 40-45% angle (imagine a nun kneeling at prayer in church, that is the angle you need or slightly more). If you are unsure if you are having a practice or false labor or the real thing, leaning forward may make the difference and encourage true labor to get going!
Pineapple & Other Fruit
Many tropical fruits including pineapple, kiwi, mango and papaya contain enzymes that may cause mild contractions - especially pineapple which is rich in Bromelain, which some studies suggest can help to soften and 'ripen' the cervix.
One of the ways to induce labor is to eat fresh or tinned pineapple or drink pineapple juice once you get to 40 weeks. You can’t take too much, so think of ways you can have pineapple - smoothies are good. Taking this fruit in abundance will probably help keep your digestive system regular too. Being constipated can definitely stop you going into labor.
Dried fruit is also great to eat leading up to labour. It's full of iron so will reduce your chances of being anemic (anemia can lead to heavy bleeding during and after the birth). it's always good to have a healthy iron level in pregnancy without the need for iron supplements or medication....avoiding those nasty side effects.
I once told my 41 week pregnant neighbor to drink plenty of pineapple juice as one of the ways to induce labor and to encourage the baby's arrival. The next day her husband came knocking on my door to announce that his baby daughter had arrived after a very short labor ....no time to get to hospital. So she had a lovely home birth instead! The mom also thinks that the Homeopathy treatment she had was a strong aid to having a short labor and avoiding a hospital induction.
This is THE important ingredient when people tell you to eat spicy foods or curry as one of the ways to induce labor. It’s not actually the spices that get you into labor but the garlic. If you eat enough garlic your bowels will be stimulated, causing loose stools.
This can trigger contractions. Having an empty bowel will give more space for the baby to move down lower in your body. The lower the baby is the more he can stimulate labor to begin when he is ready.
Raspberry Leaf Tea.
This isn't strictly one of the ways to induce labor, but it contributes in so many ways to a shorter, earlier labor! This is usually taken as a tea or infusion without milk. It’s a good idea to drink raspberry leave tea from about 24 weeks of pregnancy onwards. It works as a tonic for the womb (uterus). The muscles of the uterus are like most other muscles; they need to relax as well as contract. Raspberry leaf is also very high in iron, so will help you avoid or treat anemia in pregnancy.
Taking a gentle, natural tonic such as Raspberry leaf tea will help tone the uterus and prepare it for labor. If taken regularly, say 2 - 3 times a day for the last few weeks of pregnancy, it can reduce the pain of contractions too!
It will also help reduce a condition known as ‘irritable uterus’ that some women suffer with in mid to late pregnancy. Helping the muscle to be more toned is very beneficial. Raspberry leaf tea can be taken after the baby is born to help bring your womb back to its pre-pregnant size. This drink can also reduce strong after pains in the hours and days following birth.
See a qualified Medical Herbalist for more ideas on ways to induce labor naturally. They may also suggest herbs like Blue Cohosh or Black Cohosh. It’s important to be extremely careful when using medical herbs as they have powerful effects on you and your baby.
Taking a warm relaxing bath will help you relax and it’s your emotional state rather than the warm water that will help induce labour. Have the water on the cooler side rather than too hot. Remember that your baby will feel hotter than you do as he is deep inside where the temperature is higher. Getting too hot can cause the baby stress, so keep the water temperature so you don’t go bright red when you get in the tub!
Adding 1 or 2 tiny drops of a natural product such as Essential Oil of Lavendar may also aid your relaxation. It is well worth seeking professional advice from a qualified Aromatherapist as they may well have other suggestions. A massage or two will also help.
I have seen this work amazingly well for many pregnant women; bringing on contractions within 24 – 48 hours. Reflexologists use acupressure points as well as other techniques. Reflexology can be performed on hands or feet. It is also effective for pain management during labor. There is bound to be a local qualified Reflexologist somewhere near you.
It is fairly well known that acupuncture or acupressure is one of the ways to induce labor naturally. Have a look in your area to find a qualified Acupuncturist. If you don’t like the idea of the fine soft needles, ask them to use acupressure instead. This therapy also has good results for turning breech babies so that they are head down and ready for a (vaginal) natural birth.
Making Love: Oxytocin The Love Hormone:-
Your Midwife or Doctor may well suggest you try this. Making love involves the love hormone Oxytocin which will aid your birth process all the way along.
Semen contains prostaglandins which can ripen the cervix but only if your baby is ready. This is one of the more enjoyable ways to trigger labor rather than using Pitocin which is a Synthetic Prostaglandins drug. After all this is how your whole pregnancy began, love can start and continue the journey of bringing your baby into the world! Pitocin is one of the methods a hospital would use for labor induction.
This is another one of the ways to induce labor naturally. Nipple stimulation is subtler and usually helps to strengthen your contractions once you are in established labor. Why not try it when you are having strong Braxton-Hicks contractions and if you are more than 40 weeks pregnant.
Nipple stimulation can be achieved in several ways. You can ask your partner to help you. You can use a breast pump to simulate the sucking of a baby at the breast; this helps release the hormone Oxytocin which causes the uterus to contract. You can use your fingers to gently stroke or tweek the nipples or you can purchase one or two Avent “Nipplettes” online at our Natural Pregnancy Store. There are instructions with the Nipplettes. They are mainly sold for helping with inverted nipples, for which they work very well. When using them for natural induction, just try wearing them for short periods regularly throughout the day or evening,; maybe 10-15 minutes at a time.
Stimulate your nipples intermittently or as needed. This might be every few minutes for a short period each hour if you are trying to avoid a hospital induction or if your waters have broken and there are no contractions. The skin of your nipples is very sensitive so don’t over use this method of inducing labor naturally.
I would definitely advice you to avoid castor oil as a way of inducing labor. It will most likely give you strong stomach cramps and uncontrolled loose stools for several hours.
There are many gentle and 'more natural' ways to encourage your baby to come out into the world! Most women who've tried it, will tell you not to take it.
Lounging Back on the Sofa:
Don't be tempted to put your feet up (unless you have puffy ankles). Lying on your back will only encourage your baby to lie on your back too, i.e he'll become a back-to-back posterior baby and find it much harder to instigate labor.
Instead lie on your sofa on your left side, rolling forwards slightly, so that your pregnancy bump is resting on the sofa and you aren't rolling backwards onto your back. Prop yourself up on cushions or on your elbow. This is a very comfy position and will encourage your baby to lie with his back towards your front - in a lateral position.
As mentioned earlier, having a full bowel or rectum can definitely slow down your chances of going into natural labor. Make sure you are eating a healthy high fibre diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables too. Prunes, figs and other dried fruits are good to eat at the end of pregnancy or in early labor.
Over my years as a midwife I have met many different women who've found one or more of these methods have worked for them. Remember to choose a qualified practitioner if you go for an alternative health method like Reflexology or Homeopathy etc.
Another very important point to remember is that if you leave it until you are more than 40 weeks pregnant, you don't have as much time as when you start seeing a practitioner from say 38 or 39 weeks. It makes sense to seek professional advice well in advance if you want to avoid hospital induction and use natural ways to induce labor instead.
All the Health Practitioners are aiming to help you to be at your optimum health and readiness when labor begins or when your baby wants to trigger labor. They are not actually inducing labor, but purely helping everything to be in perfect alignment ready for labor to start naturally. Hopefully this will also facilitate a nice, reasonably short labor.
If you have been booked in for a hospital induction of labor and you want to avoid this, try to see an alternative health practitioner as early as possible and talk about ways to induce labor naturally. Treatments don't always work immediately and often 2 or 3 appointments are needed. It can depend on what position your baby has taken up!
It's also important to talk to your baby. Reassure him or her that life outside their nice cozy womb is going to be just great. Having a Blessing Way or Baby Shower can also be good at this time, as a marker between pregnancy and birth.
It's all part of having a natural pregnancy, including having
a healthy diet for pregnancy , avoiding pollutants like cigarette smoke and
alcohol during pregnancy and generally keeping yourself fit by doing
exercise in pregnancy.
Also take a look at this Do-it-Yourself Acupressure points for Induction site.
More natural ways to start labor.
To Signs of Labor
To Stages of Labor
Read about Labor Contractions