Want to learn how to go into labor naturally? Are you approaching your due date (or even past it!), but still no baby? I know how stressful it is to wait, when you really just want that baby in your arms!
Often, mothers turn to every old-wives tale they can find in hopes of finding a way to induce labor naturally. What but which natural induction methods work, and which don’t?
Some natural labor induction methods could actually cause productive contractions to begin, while others simply make it so that if your body is ready, labor will ramp up much more quickly. Either way, these methods can help you meet your new little one sooner.
Read on to learn about 9 natural ways to help you get labor started!
What has to happen for labor to start naturally?
There are two main requirements for your body to be ready to go into labor: Your cervix needs to be ripe, and your uterus needs to be ready for contractions.
Cervical ripening is basically your cervix softening in preparation for effacement and dilation. While the cervix softens on its own during the last few weeks of pregnancy, a class of compounds called prostaglandins can help the process along.
Your uterus is signaled by oxytocin (the “bonding hormone”) to produce contractions. But here’s the catch: Your uterus has to have receptor sites for oxytocin for it to work! Early in pregnancy (when it’s not time to give birth), there’s not many oxytocin receptors on the uterus. But during labor, the number of these receptors have maxed out, meaning that your body is ready to put oxytocin to work!
Natural ways to cause cervical softening
Remember, to get your cervix to ripen, we’re looking for prostaglandins.
When you’re induced medically, you may be given a pill with prostaglandins to take orally, or you may have a capsule inserted vaginally. So depending on the type of prostaglandin, taking them orally or applying them directly to the cervix may work.
Sex to induce labor
Yep, it is commonly believed that sex can bring on labor! Semen contains high concentrations of prostaglandins, meaning that it can help ripen the cervix.
I know it can be difficult to be in the mood for sex when you’re exhausted and feel absolutely giant. And, let’s be real, even being able to have sex can take some creativity when you’re in the third trimester, just because your belly might be in the way. But if nothing else, it’s a good way to bond with your partner and relax during the days before baby comes.
Pineapple to induce labor naturally
Pineapple contains prostaglandins as well, and while it hasn’t been proven medically to kick-start labor, there’s plenty of women who claim that their contractions began soon after eating it.
However, there’s a catch: The prostaglandins are found most in the pineapple core. So if you try this, be sure to have fresh pineapple (not canned), and perhaps use the core to make a smoothie. If you’re struggling with third-trimester heartburn, though, you might want to skip this method.
Some women choose to use evening primrose oil starting around 38 weeks of pregnancy. You can choose whether to take the capsules (1-3 daily) orally or vaginally.
If you can find someone who performs acupuncture, it may help your cervix to soften. And if you can’t find a practitioner, acupressure may help instead! This site shows where to find points to use to induce your labor, or at least make your cervix more favorable for labor to begin.
Eating 6 dates a day starting at 36 weeks of pregnancy can also ripen the cervix and help you go into labor naturally.
While walking doesn’t release prostaglandins, it does help your baby get into position. When your baby’s head is engaged, it presses on the cervix, which causes it to efface.
Pro tip: Don’t go on a huge walk that wears you out. You’ll need that energy for when labor finally starts up. Instead, stay close to home and just take short walks back and forth.
Now, birthing balls don’t give off prostaglandins obviously. But they are amazing in helping you stay upright, so the baby can continue to make its way through the pelvis. In addition, a major key point in using the birth ball is that it’s been proven to increase cervical dilation. Furthermore, it’s just a great tool to use to cope with pain in labor.
Natural ways to stimulate contractions
Anything we can do to produce oxytocin or strengthen the uterus will help stimulate contractions and make these contractions more effective. Luckily, there are several tricks to get contractions going.
I know, we already talked about this one! But sex works in more than one way to get your body ready for labor. In addition to cervix-softening prostaglandins, sex also causes an oxytocin release, especially when you have an orgasm. So when you try this method to get labor going, make sure both you and your partner have fun with it.
This natural method of labor induction is the one with the most evidence behind it. Oxytocin is released with nipple stimulation (this is what causes your body to release milk during breastfeeding), so this method can definitely bring on contractions.
In fact, if you are breastfeeding a toddler or preschooler through pregnancy and choose to nurse when labor is just beginning, you may end up with a very fast labor and delivery!
If you don’t have a current nursling, though, you can still do nipple stimulation, either manually or with a breast pump.
What not to do to induce labor naturally
So I know you’re looking into how to go into labor naturally. But there are a couple old fashioned methods to induce labor naturally that aren’t my favorite. Skip these methods and go for one of the ones above!
Spicy foods, like some Mexican or Indian dishes, are sometimes recommended for inducing labor.
But when you’re in the third trimester and already dealing with an upset stomach and heartburn, you should probably avoid spicy food.
Plus, it’s not so much that spicy food induces labor, as much as it may cause stomach upset and cramping (which can translate into contractions.
Want to induce labor naturally with Castor oil? (noooooo)
Same for castor oil. Castor oil is a bit iffy. There are some studies showing that it is effective in inducing labor naturally.
However, there still needs to be more testing to verify this. Yet, the majority of women who take castor oil have experienced GI upset symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
Trust me, you do not want to head into labor with an upset stomach. Plus, you might end up dehydrated after your system is cleaned out, literally.
Conclusions on inducing labor naturally
Those last few weeks of pregnancy can be absolutely brutal. It’s so hard to wait to meet your baby, not to mention the strong desire to feel more like yourself again! But if your desperate and your faced with a Pitocin induction, maybe inducing naturally might be the way to go.
So give these labor induction methods a try, and even if they don’t work, you can be sure that you’ll meet your little one when the time is right.
Remember always check with your doctor or midwife before trying anything.
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