Are you about ready to hold your baby in your arms instead of in your belly? Through most of your pregnancy you wanted your baby to stay in, you prayed for your baby to keep cooking, and you did everything right so that you didn't go into preterm labor. But suddenly…37 weeks pregnant hits and all of a sudden a switch flipped and you started to wonder if you will be pregnant forever. It's like an impulse that we develop in the home stretch of pregnancy to google “ways to induce labor naturally”. Right? We all do it.
During most of my pregnancy I wanted to know what I could do to keep my baby in long enough to have a perfectly healthy baby. But by the end, I also wanted to do everything I could to get this freakin' baby out because “if I'm pregnant for one more day I might literally explode”. You understand.
I didn't think I would go past due with my son. I was told my entire pregnancy that my baby was measuring big for my gestation and I was almost certain that my dates were miscalculated. These factors led me to believe that I would [obviously] go into labor early and deliver my perfectly sized newborn at 38.5 weeks pregnant. Don't worry, guys, I had it all planned out. I wasn't going to go over-due.
Reality hit at about 39.5 weeks when I realized that I couldn't just hope that labor would eventually come. I couldn't wait to meet my sweet boy so I started looking into what ways to induce labor at home that actually work.
I found some good stuff. Do they work? Maybe. Are they a guarantee? Nope. Did I go into labor naturally? Yes!! Did I have to be augmented at all in labor? Nope! My body did it all on it's own, thank God. Did my natural induction methods do the trick? Hey, I'll never really know. But it doesn't hurt to try.
- Related Read: The Day I Became A Mother: Our Birth Story
Go Into Labor Naturally
I have news for you! There are absolutely ways to induce labor naturally at home that you can try. But first, you have to meet some requirements.
First things first…
The first thing, is that no matter how “over it” you get as soon as you're term, it is not advised to start any induction methods at home until you are AT LEAST 39 weeks. Please don't give up on that bump too early. The waiting game is really miserable sometimes, but waiting it out for the long haul is so important. Even if you feel like you might be pregnant forever if you don't take action now.
Do not do anything that goes against your better judgment. Never try a home induction method that goes against your gut instincts, your personal values, or that may cause a bad reaction to your body. If you are allergic to one of these methods, please don't try it. If you or your unborn child have a medical condition that discourages you from moving forward with home induction methods, please refrain from moving forward.
Always, always, always check with your doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself. Make sure your doctor or midwife gives you the go-ahead to proceed with any of these labor inducing techniques. Be sure that what you are doing is safe before you participate in anything that may help you put yourself into labor.
Please note: The views on this website are personal opinions only and do not represent the opinions or policies of any provider or institution that I am affiliated with. I am not giving medical advice. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose, or treat any form of any disease. This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only. I am only telling you what my experiences are. Please refer to my Disclaimer Page for more information
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Labor Inducing Tricks That Encourage Natural Labor
When your due date comes and goes and you haven't had any signs that labor is imminent, it's easy to become discouraged. Try not to worry, mama! Your body was meant for this! Sometimes it just needs a little encouraging. Try these ways to induce labor naturally and give your body the little push that it needs to get things going in the right direction.
Physical Activity To Induce Labor Naturally
1. Use Sex To Get Yourself Into Labor
What got you into this situation very well might be the way to get you out. The fact of the matter is, semen has prostaglandins that encourage labor. Prostaglandins are fatty acids that can have hormone-like effects and help to soften your cervix.
Not to mention that the big “O” causes mini contractions in your uterus that may kick-start labor as well. Don't worry, with or without orgasm, sex increases uterine activity because of the release of oxytocin, known as the love hormone, during the act itself.
Being as big as ever and feeling like you're ready to pop and trying to do the deed may not be the easiest thing in the world, but you'll get creative to find positions that get the job done. I'm sure. Plus, this might be your last time getting It on for the next six weeks. Make it count!
If your goal is to go into labor, keep moving! You can walk anywhere…Clean the house, go shopping, or take a walk around the neighborhood. These movements will help draw your baby down into your pelvis where he should be.
As your hips sway during your walk, gravity is at work bringing baby down into the pelvis. As the baby's head bounces up and down in your pelvis, the cervix will begin to thin and even dilate.
I made it a habit that every single night after dinner, my husband and I took a long walk around the neighborhood starting a couple of weeks before my due date. It started casual until I realized that I was going to be over-due. Then I got a little more motivated.
3. Climbing Hills or Stairs
Lifting one leg higher than the other opens up the pelvis more than walking on flat ground. The wider your pelvis, the further down the baby can come. The further down the baby is, the thinner your cervix will likely become.
You can hit the gym and hog the stair stepper all day or you can go on a small, local hike with friends. Either way, this is a great option for getting things moving.
4. Squats & Lunges
Once again, these movements will help your baby drop into the birthing position. When I was a crazy lady at 40 weeks and 3 days, I graduated from walking around the neighborhood to squatting around the neighborhood. I even did squats with one foot on the curb to open my pelvis even further. I was desperate. But hey, I did what I had to do.
5. Bouncing on an Exercise Ball
If you are home in front of the TV, you might as well be sitting on an exercise ball. Of all the induction methods I've found, this one is probably the easiest. All you have to do is sit on a ball, sway and rock your hips, and bounce the day away.
As you sit on the ball with your knees apart and hips wide, you are opening your pelvis, giving baby lots of room to come down. The further down baby gets, the more pressure he puts on the cervix, which is perfect for ripening!
I'll admit that I wasn't 100% committed to this during my last week of pregnancy like I should have been. But I did try it every now and then. If you can commit to sitting and bouncing on your exercise ball for at least one hour every night, you'll be on the right track, for sure.
Foods That Induce Labor Naturally
6. Eat Pineapple To Induce Labor
Eating large amounts of pineapple may induce labor because pineapple contains the proteolytic enzyme “bromelain” which is thought to help soften your cervix and induce labor.
I do have a story to tell you about this one. A co-worker of mine had HUGE success using pineapple as a way to induce labor. For her first baby, she ate two entire pineapples and then went into labor the next day. For her second, she ate two entire pineapples and then went into labor so quickly that she didn't make it to the hospital in time and ended up delivering in the ambulance! Yikes! That must have been some potent pineapple.
For me, personally, this was impossible to do! I tried. Really, I did. I cut up pineapple, I blended it in smoothies, whatever it took to get it down. But to save my life I could not eat two whole pineapples in a day. Maybe if I could do it, it would have worked. Who knows.
If you reeeeeally like pineapple, this might be the natural induction method for you! Make sure you don't skip the core of the pineapple, because this is where most of the Bromelain is stored!
7. Induction Cookies
A patient of mine gave me this recipe when I was pregnant with my son. She told me that she used this cookie recipe to go into labor and she hoped that it worked for me too. I'm thinking that the triggering ingredient is the cayenne pepper. Either way, they are a yummy way to kick off labor, if you ask me.
- 2 1/2 c. flour
- 1 1/2 t. baking soda
- 3/4 t. cinnamon
- 1 t. ground ginger
- 1/2 t. ground cloves
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 t. cayenne pepper
- 8 T. butter
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1/3 c. molasses
- 1/4 c. egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, and spices and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the molasses to the creamed butter, then add the egg whites until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly. Once incorporated, roll dough into 1 inch balls and place onto baking tray. Bake 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!
8. Spicy Food
Basically, if you get your digestive system contracting by irritating the intestines with spicy food, you will then in turn also stimulate your uterus to contract as well.
The day that I went into labor, I went out to lunch with my mom and ate a spicy Jambalaya. Lunch was around noon, my labor started around 5:30 am the next morning. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.
Eat six dates every day during the last few weeks of pregnancy. This is a powerful natural induction method that I have seen work time and time again. It has been said that dates help labor to progress quickly without your water breaking before labor starts (wow, this would have been good to know before my water broke all over my bed).
There have actually been studies on this method that show that if you eat dates during the last month of pregnancy, you are more likely to go into labor spontaneously and avoid augmentation with Pitocin. That's incredible, right?
This is one of the ways to induce labor that I had not known about before I went into labor with my son. Want to know when I found out about this method? During my third, yes THIRD membrane stripping fiasco. I was at the hospital for a non-stress test because I was past my due date and I was talking to my co-workers about how desperate I was to go into labor. The charge nurse that was on that night said “eat dates!” and I inquired about what she was talking about. Too bad is was a little too late! I would have definitely tried this if I had known.
Stimulation Methods To Get Labor Going
10. Nipple Stimulation
It might be helpful to try massaging your nipples and areola using a rolling or rubbing motion to stimulate them as the suckling of a nursing baby would. Breastfeeding causes the release of Oxytocin, which of course, you know as the hormone that causes contractions in the first place.
Combine this method with #1 and you've got some productive foreplay happening. If you're going to have your nipples stimulated, it may as well be for good reason, right? (on a side note, get used to it. One word: breastfeeding)
Acupressure focuses on your body's natural pressure points as a way to induce labor. There are a few pressure points on your hands, feet, legs and ears that are thought to stimulate labor contractions.
If you can't get an appointment, you can do this yourself. All you do is use your finger tips to put pressure on specific points on the body to stimulate uterine activity. Start with the space between your thumb and index finger or the inside of your leg about two inches above the ankle.
I'm pretty sure that what finally did me in was a really hard foot, ankle, and leg massage that I got while sitting in a massage chair at Brookstone at the mall. I sat there for as long as they would let me and I swear it hit some pressure points down there.
Acupuncture is the age old practice of inserting thin needles into specific pressure points on the body. If done correctly, it can stimulate uterine activity. Obviously, you can't do this on your own as you can with many of the other ways to induce labor that I've suggested. But if you have the time and opportunity, getting acupuncture will help relax you, if nothing else.
Remember when I mentioned Oxytocin? It's the feel-good hormone! What feels better than a nice massage at 40+ weeks pregnant? Either make an appointment for a prenatal massage or ask your hubby for a rub down before bed tonight. The intimacy, the relaxation, and the physical enjoyment of a massage will be the perfect combination of things that add up to lots of oxytocin pumping through your veins. Lots of oxytocin = full-blown labor. Fingers crossed!
Herbal Ways To Induce Labor
14. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red Raspberry leaf is a potent herb that helps tone your uterus. Why would you want a toned uterus? Well, your uterus is a muscle just like any other. If your uterus is strong, your contractions will be too. The stronger your contractions, the more effective they are. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
You can start drinking mild red raspberry leaf tea towards the end of your third trimester (with the permission of your provider) and then gradually start making your tea more and more saturated with the herb. By the time you are 40 weeks pregnant, you should be drinking a hyper-concentrated cup of red raspberry leaf tea to put you into labor.
15. Evening Primrose Oil
Evening Primrose oil is an herbal supplement that is used to induce and shorten labor. You can take evening primrose oil capsules or insert the oil into your vagina during the last weeks of pregnancy. Talk to your doctor or midwife about dosing and how to use it.
Get a head start on getting the information about it because this isn't one of those things that you start using the day you want to go into labor. It might be more beneficial to start taking it a few weeks before your due date if approved by your provider.
Relaxation To Encourage Labor
16. Guided Relaxation
Did you know that the majority of labors start late at night during sleep? Snuggled up next to your hubs, cozy and warm in your comfy bed… doesn't that sound like something that would stimulate the “feel-good hormone”? I'd say so.
After your done walking, bouncing, and getting it on- rest! Try meditation, a relaxing bath, or yoga to get yourself into a relaxed state before bed.
Natural-ish Medical Intervention To Kick-Start Labor
17. Membrane Stripping
At your next appointment, ask your provider about stripping your membranes. It's done during a pelvic exam. Basically your provider will check your cervix with a little bit of extra magic. They use their fingers to separate the amniotic sac from the wall of your uterus. Once the bag of water is separated from the wall, there will be a release of prostaglandins around your cervix that should cause uterine contractions.
You'll have to be at least one centimeter to get your membranes stripped because your doc will have to insert a finger into your cervix in order to sweep the edges of your amniotic sac. If your cervix is still closed, this won't be an option for you. Try the other ways to induce your labor that I listed above and then maybe you'll be at the point where membrane stripping is an option.
Are You Wondering About Castor Oil To Induce Labor?
Just don't. This is one induction method that I recommend that you avoid all together. There are so many other options! Castor oil really doesn't even need to be on your radar. Put it into perspective. Are you willing to drink castor oil to induce labor when most medical professionals and experienced laborers are telling you not to just because you read somewhere that it might work? Well if that is the case, why are you trying to avoid medical induction in the first place?
Aren't you trying to induce labor as naturally as possible to avoid putting “dangerous” or “artificial” things into your body to induce labor? That's the whole point, right? You're looking for ways to avoid anything that might put your baby at risk.
Uhh. This is pretty obvious here. Castor oil can cause you to have severe diarrhea and dehydration in labor which can be a huge risk to your baby (plus a messy and uncomfortable mess for you). Would you rather have that or a medical induction that has been researched and deemed safe and where your baby is being constantly monitored for bad reactions? I would take the latter any day.
Your Time Will Come
Sometimes it is best to be patient. I know you don't want to hear that, but it's true. If you have tried every home induction method in the book and you still have yet to feel a single contraction, don't get discouraged. Your baby will likely come when she is ready. The best induction method for a healthy mom and baby often turns out to be time.
If you do end up having to be induced medically, read up on how to survive being induced over at Habibi House.
Good luck, and happy laboring!
What ways to induce labor did you use? What induction methods worked for you? I want to hear your tips too. Let me know in the comments!
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