For many moms their due date comes without a baby. At this final stage of your pregnancy you feel uncomfortable and would rather hold your precious bundle in your arms rather than in your tummy. If so, try one of our natural remedies to try and bring on labour to nudge the little tyke out. Be sure to check with your medical practitioner that you can try these methods and everything is alright with the baby before you start inducing. Your body will show signs of readiness, but sometimes you need a little nudge. Once you have the go-ahead read on to bring on labour naturally.
Experts advise that the healthiest babies stay in the womb until 39 weeks, so many doctors will advise waiting it out until your due date. It is also advised that you do not try to induce naturally until you have passed your due date to ensure a healthy birth. If you are looking for natural methods and reading this it is probably because you are well passed your due date and are feeling tired of being pregnant and very uncomfortable. Although it may feel like forever, you are not designed to be pregnant and baby will, at some point, be born. Your body is designed to give birth so have some faith that things will happen as they are meant to and tell us if any of these methods worked for you.
Natural ways to bring on labour
Walking / Light Exercise:
We know that the thought of lugging a huge preggy belly outdoors is quite an exhausting one, but some light exercise can get labour initiated. Thanks to gravity many moms have found this helpful! The simple motion of walking can help draw baby into your pelvis, putting pressure on the cervix which helps to bring on labour. If not, this may help you relax and get some exercise before the delivery. Do not overdo it and tire yourself out at the stage, you will need lots of energy for later. Some research show that taking the stairs may be more beneficial, perhaps because of the bigger steps. By lifting your legs higher you put more pressure on your cervix.
Evening primrose oil (EPO)
This is a common suggestion by midwives, this herb can thin the cervix and dilate it in preparation for labour. Midwives suggest taking the capsules or using the oil during your last few weeks of pregnancy. There is not too much research done on the safety of using natural herbs like EPO, so be sure to check with your medical practitioner before trying anything out. EPO converts to prostaglandins, like semen, which help to soften your cervix but may not cause labour. A usual oral dosage is 2-3 of 500mg capsules daily from 36 weeks. If you are taking EPO internally, you can do this from 36 weeks – simply insert 2-3 capsules directly to the cervix before bed.
Ingesting Castor Oil is an age-old method of inducing labour, although research shows that it is only effective in about 50% of women. Castor Oil has a laxative effect and can stimulate the bowels which can lead to contractions. If you are not already showing signs of labour, taking Castor Oil may just give you a case of diarrhoea and terrible stomach cramps. Many women experience constipation during pregnancy so this one may help with that. Consider the consequences of this one before taking a spoonful and get the green-light from your doctor. This is not our favourite method to try, if it doesn’t work you could be left feeling even more uncomfortable than you already do.
Many people swear by the theory of anything “hot” to get baby out – “hot food, hot bath and hot sex”. Spicy foods follow the same theory as drinking Castor Oil, by irritating the bowels you can stimulate the uterus and start contractions. Spicy foods cause your body to release prostaglandins throughout the digestive process. These hormones may trigger contractions in the uterus. For some women this doesn’t work and they are left with terrible heart burn instead. Follow your gut (no pun intended) and eat spicy foods if you feel comfortable, this depends largely on your diet and the effect that different food has on your body.
Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which also helps to ripen the cervix. Other foods believed to help include Basil and Ginger. Dates are the new age food that is believed to naturally induce labour. In a recent study 69 women ate 6 dates a day for 4 weeks, compared to 45 women who consumed none. The women who consumed dates had a significantly higher cervical dilation by the time they were admitted to the hospital compared to the control group (3.52 cm vs 2.02 cm, p < 0.0005). These women also had a higher proportion of intact membranes and higher instances of spontaneous labour with a shorter first stage of labour. The study concluded that dates produced a more favourable delivery outcome. The results were not very significant, but it could be something to consider.
Acupuncture is believed to work as the body releases oxytocin when thin needles are inserted into various pressure points. This can stimulate uterine activity and help to get the baby moving into action. By targeting the pressure points, it is believed that it helps to balance the energy flow. Even die-hard believers state that if the baby is not ready to make a grand entrance, this method will not work alone. If you are crossing this one off the list for fear of needles, don’t be scared. As the needles are so tiny you really do not feel it. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method and induction using acupuncture generally works within 6 – 48 hours after treatment. Studies done in Australia showed a 88% success rate using acupuncture to stimulate labour. As they say in China – “when the fruit is ready, it will fall off the vine”. Andrew Orr, an acupuncture specialist, says that acupuncture during pregnancy leads to a much easier and pain reduced birth and induction. Consult with your doctor to ensure that this method will work for you before embarking on an induction plan.
This age-old method is similar to Acupuncture in that it stimulates various pressure points on the body, however this method uses the fingers and not needles. Many experts say that you can even try this method on your own after consulting with your doctor. Speak to a trained professional to get proper training, various pressure points are safe to press from 37 weeks. Some practitioners believe that acupressure can be used to start and restart labour, as well as alleviate pain and discomfort during delivery. There are two pressure points believed to induce: the webbing between your thumb and index finger; and the inside of your leg about four finger widths above your ankle bone. Press these areas gently at first to stimulate uterine activity and bring on labour naturally. By applying pressure to either of these areas you can bring on contractions.
The old wives tale says that twisting or double twisting your nipples will bring on labour. Although this can sound like a torture method during the final stage of pregnancy, stimulating the nipples can release oxytocin to bring on contractions. Generally practitioners do not recommend this one as this can lead to painfully long and strong contractions. Massaging nipples (gently!) simulates breastfeeding and can bring on labour. Massage for 5 minutes, and then wait around 15 minutes before trying again.
Massage therapists believe that a massage can help to jump-start the contractions when mom is overdue. This method will also utilise the pressure points that will bring on labour. Many therapists will also use essential oils to relax mom. Massages can raise the oxytocin and bring on contractions. Massages help to release any tension and soothe tired muscles. The point is to relax and be calm, it is not a coincidence that most labours start late at night when mom-to-be is safely tucked up in bed. Try meditation to help you get into a relaxed frame of mind. The important thing is to take your mind off things.
This method is thought to work for 2 reasons. By being in the tub you may relax and unwind which will help your body go into labour. The warm water is also thought to soften the cervix and prepare your body.
Bumpy Car Ride
Car Rides form part of the less conventional methods to bring on labour. Unfortunately this method has no scientific basis and is only really suggested by word of mouth. If you do want to try this method, make sure that you drive safe and buckle up!
Before trying any of the methods to induce labour we suggest that you contact your health practitioner to discuss any possible risks or possible complications. Despite the popularity of many of these methods there is little scientific evidence as to the effectiveness. In most cases your doctor will advise you on what to do if you go over your due date.
As we have stated before, the most important things that you can do is to relax and unwind. Before you know it, your precious bundle will be in your arms!