Natural Ways to Induce Labor

By the time you reach the end of your third trimester, the desire to have your baby can be pretty intense. Unfortunately, babies don't always cooperate, and you may find yourself at week 40 with no signs of labor in sight. If you'd like to avoid a medical induction, there are a few things you can try at home. Although there are many natural ways to induce labor, none of them have ever been conclusively proven to be all that effective. However, when you're at the end of your pregnancy, you're probably willing to try anything to get this show on the road.

Women have been stimulating labor naturally for years — many of these methods may seem to work simply because women are in early labor already, or their bodies are ready to go into labor. Although trying natural ways to induce labor may feel like you're helping to move the process along, they may not really have any effect.

  • Walking: Walking is an easy way to get your juices flowing — and hopefully your labor in gear! Although walking may not result in inducing your labor, it can help the baby drop into a correct position with the help of gravity. Some women find walking helps them to cope with contractions during early labor.
  • Sex: Intercourse has been shown to have a mild effect on inducing labor. Stimulating labor naturally this way may prove to be a one of the more cumbersome methods, but is worth trying. The prostaglandins in semen may stimulate contractions, as well as does having an orgasm.
  • Nipple Stimulation: When a pregnant woman's nipples are stimulated, oxytocin is released. When a woman is medically induced, she is given pitocin, which is artificial oxytocin. This hormone stimulates contractions of the uterus. One potential negative side effect of stimulating labor naturally this way is that you can overstimulate, or hyperstimulate, the uterus which should always be monitored by a doctor to ensure the safety of the baby.
  • Herbal Remedies: Some midwives swear by Blue or Black Cohosh as one of the natural ways to induce labor. It may help more if you are already in early labor.
  • Castor Oil: Castor oil, which is a powerful laxative, can help stimulate contractions of the uterus. You can take up to 4 ounces (113 grams) of castor oil — be sure to mix it with something to make the taste and consistency more palatable.
  • Spicy Food: At last — a good excuse to indulge in all that Mexican food you've been craving. This natural method of inducing labor is mostly an old wives tale, and has more of a chance of giving you heartburn than contractions.
  • Stripping the Membranes: While this is technically one of the natural ways to induce labor because it doesn't include medication, you'll have to have your doctor or midwife perform this procedure. It involves sweeping her fingers through your cervix and dislodging the membranes from the bottom of the uterus. It is as uncomfortable as it sounds — be prepared for what feels like a painful pelvic exam. While it may be an undesirable way to induce labor, it has been shown to have a slightly positive influence inducing labor.

    Of course, the baby won't stay in there forever. If none of these natural ways to induce labor work, your doctor will have to induce you by 42 weeks.

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