The most commonly known methods to induce labor are evening primrose oil, riding in a bumpy vehicle, eating fresh pineapple, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, having sexual intercourse, manual or mechanical nipple stimulation, acupressure, stripping the membranes, walking, and drinking a castor oil cocktail. They all work very differently, and not all of them can be proven.
Here are 8 ways to induce labor naturally:
1. Sex works in two ways to induce labor: first, the female orgasm can bring on contractions, and second, semen contains prostaglandins, hormones that work to help ripen and soften the cervix.
2. Stimulating the nipples with your fingers or with a breast pump triggers the production of oxytocin, which is the natural version of manmade Pitocin that women are given in the hospital to bring on or strengthen contractions. Oxytocin causes the uterus to contract.
3. Acupressure may also be used to induce labor; it works by stimulating pressure points such as the roof of the mouth, the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, and about four fingertips above the inner ankle. Some women choose to go to a professional acupuncturist, while others try the points on their own at home.
4. Stripping the membranes can only be done by your health care provider and is done by separating the bag of waters from your cervix. This is thought to encourage the start of labor.
5. Evening primrose oil taken orally beginning after week 30 of pregnancy can soften or ripen the cervix to help prepare for birth. A few weeks later another evening primrose oil capsule can be inserted vaginally as close to the cervix as possible to increase the effects of the pill. The capsule should dissolve by the first time a woman wakes up to use the restroom, leaving only a slightly sticky residue.
6. Red raspberry leaf tea, which is different from red raspberry tea, contains herbs that are said to help the uterus contract during and after pregnancy. Drinking a couple of glasses a day after your first trimester should stimulate the uterine contractions to be more regular, and red raspberry leaf tea is especially useful after delivery because it lowers the chances of postpartum hemorrhaging. A woman’s uterus needs to contract after the baby and placenta are delivered in order to shrink back to its original size, and sometimes that can come with heavy bleeding; red raspberry leaf tea is said to control the flow of blood so that a woman doesn’t lose too much blood during and after delivery.
7. Both walking and taking a ride in a bumpy truck are thought to put the baby into a better position for labor if the baby hasn’t dropped yet. Eating spicy foods like eggplant parmesan, something in fresh pineapple, and certain herbs are also ways that pregnant women swear brought on labor.
8. Finally, women and their mothers and grandmothers have talked about a castor oil cocktail for decades, and everyone seems to know someone who swears by this method. The best results are said to come if you are already in labor, because the castor oil causes intestine spasms which can cause the uterus to contract. Though it is not widely recommended, if you decide to go this route you can drink one to four ounces of castor oil mixed with six ounces of orange juice at least once. Keep in mind that the castor oil will cause your bowels to empty themselves within about three hours and with any luck true labor will follow.
Natural induction labor should not be used before being discussed with your health care provider. Anyone who is anemic, has a history of postpartum bleeding, or has high blood pressure should not try to induce labor on her own. One thing to remember is that a natural induction labor will not work if the baby isn’t ready to come or if the cervix isn’t ripe. Like all interventions in birth there are risks to inducing labor, and a woman should wait until her due date to try any natural induction method.
Time can be the best method to induce. Women are most likely to start researching and trying out natural induction methods during the last few weeks of pregnancy. This could be because they are simply tired of being pregnant and want to get the baby out in a hurry, or that the estimated due date has passed, the little one is considered full term, and they are willing to take labor methods into their own hands.
Normally, natural induction labor are used by anyone who would like to have a non-medicated natural childbirth either in or out of a hospital.