7 Ways to Naturally Induce Labor

Today, Leigh Ann, from Intentional by Grace is back–posting on 7 ways to naturally induce labor! Be sure to check out her earlier post on birthing at a birth center and her post yesterday about why she chose not to induce labor.

7 Ways to Naturally Induce Labor - TheHumbledHomemaker.com

Yesterday, I shared with you why we chose not to schedule an induction with our first child. However, because I was in first stage labor almost non-stop for a week, and was 90% effaced and 4 cm dilated at 39 weeks, we were ready to bring our baby into the world. It seemed to us that our baby was ready, and walking was getting even more difficult with a … well, baby dropping. Therefore, we opted to try a few natural ways to speed up my laboring process. Bring on second stage labor!

For others, it may be that your baby is incubating with no signs of being ready to leave his or her nest. By around the 40-42 week mark, some doctors and midwives will give the go ahead to encourage labor to begin. Of course, you will need to follow the guidance of your medical care and use your common sense before trying to naturally induce labor. But in case you get to this point, then I want to share with you some of the ways we used to encourage my labor to progress a little more quickly, as well as ways you can encourage labor to begin without the use of Pitocin.

7 Ways to Naturally Induce Labor

1. Pineapple.

Tropical fruits like pineapple, mango and papaya contain a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme is said to help soften the cervix, stimulate muscle contractions, and for shortening labor (source). Pineapple has been used for years for other medicinal purposes as well. Eating large amount of fresh pineapple can also kick start your digestive system, which is also said to be a way to kick start labor. Not to mention, it just tastes really good.

2. Shake your groove thang.

Dancing is a great way to get moving and encourage your baby’s descent. The swaying of your hips will help the baby to move down into your pelvis, but don’t pole dance. That could be a little much for your loose tendons and joints. My husband and sister cranked up the dance music when I could no longer sit still and get comfortable. They danced and had me bouncing to the rhythm of the beat the night I finally went into full blown labor. You know, our son has serious rhythm to this day. He came out dancing! Plus, we had a lot of fun and created a memory that none of us will ever forget. If dancing is a bit much, feel free to just walk around the block or hike up and down the stairs (source).

3. Raspberry Leaf Tea.

Raspberry Leaf Tea is said to help tone the cervix and strengthen our entire pelvic region. Raspberry Leaf Tea may not help induce labor directly, but it should play a key part in your overall birth plan. It is full of vitamins and minerals that are essential to the health of your uterus, and drinking a double brew of this tea can certainly help move you along in the labor process and aid in recovery (source).

4. Nipple Stimulation.

Stimulating your nipples can help release natural oxytocin hormones thus causing the uterus to contract. You will want to stimulate your nipples for several minutes at a time for this to be effective. You can do this through your shirt or bra. It is not necessary to do this directly unless you so desire. I am convinced this was the single most effective strategy at encouraging my labor to progress. For some, stimulating your nipples is uncomfortable (me even saying it might make you blush), but this is truly an effective natural way to induce labor (source).

5. Acupressure.

Acupressure fascinates me. Being able to use pressure points to heal various ailments is amazing. There are also pressure points to help induce labor. The one I used was the thumb to the roof of my mouth. I just pressed for several minutes at a time off and on throughout the night. However, there are several other pressure points all over your body that could help induce labor as well as relieve labor discomfort. See this post for more information.

6. Shut the bedroom door.

We’ve all heard that having sex can help induce labor. It is said that the sperm will help soften the cervix thus allowing labor to begin. Not to mention, you can throw in several other labor inducing techniques (see #1, #2 and #4 for ideas) (source).

7. Castor Oil.

Castor oil should only be considered if you are overdue and as a last resort*. When taking the recommended dosage to induce labor, it can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea thus rendering you dehydrated and exhausted, which is not good for a laboring mama. However, it is effective and if it was between this and Pitocin, I would probably at least give castor oil a try. But like I said yesterday, it is your choice to make (source).

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What natural ways to induce labor would you add to this list?

photo by Lillian Prince Photography
Note from Erin: I agree with Leigh Ann on the castor oil. I would only use it as a last resort. I have heard some horror stories about women taking castor oil! Neither Leigh Ann nor myself are pregnancy or birthing experts. We simply write from personal experience and personal research. Please consult your trusted health professional before making any decisions regarding pregnancy or birthing.

Check out these 9 more ways to naturally induce labor!

This is how I personally avoided a labor induction at 42 weeks pregnant!

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  1. Jennifer says

    I have heard that anything that irritates your digestive system can induce labor. None of the above worked for me…to include irritating food. I gave birth to my first daughter 10 days late and tried a few of the above tricks, but nothing seemed to help (with the exception of the castor oil, although all it did was make me cramp…not dilate). My second daughter was born 6 weeks ago — 13 days late. She had been hanging low for quite a while, but at 9 days over, I was not dilated at all. We had tried many of the tricks (and had a stretch and sweep) and nothing helped. I was determined not to have pitocin and finally decided at 13 days over to have my water broken. She was out 2 hours later. I am currently living in the UK and the midwives were surprised that nothing helped our little one along. Just a reminder to us that we can’t always force these things….

  2. says

    I cannot believe that I am going to admit this on a website but, I found number 4 to work really well. I was 4 days late with my third and did not want to be induced like I was with the first, so I tried trick 4 on this list, it took about an hour, but it really kicked things into high gear. I found olive oil on the fingers helped me from not getting sore…. nipples. (another word I never thought I would type)
    Victoria@Snailpacetransformations recently posted..Fitness and Life Goals: August 6th to August 20thMy Profile

  3. says

    I tried SO HARD to like that stinkin’ Raspberry Leaf tea….I just cannot choke the stuff down. It makes me want to yak. Then again, I hate tea. Now I’m taking Raspberry Leaf capsules instead. MUCH easier for me. :-)

    I will say that closing the bedroom door is what did it for us last time – my water broke within just a few hours.
    Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents recently posted..Our Hospital Birth PlanMy Profile

    • Melody B. says

      I can’t stand the tea either. I’ve tried so hard to like them. I get a little nauseous just thinking about them (and I’m not pregnant). I will occasionally have a glass of iced sweet tea (has to be the right kind and not terribly sweet). I’ve lived in the south my whole life….but I don’t like other southern things either, like watermelon or cornbread in a glass of milk.

    • Jenny says

      I used a THM recipe, and substituted the tea and drank it for breakfast every morning. I made a big pot of the raspberry leaf with cinnamon, filled the rest of a pitcher with almond milk, then added cayenne, vanilla, sea salt and stevia. (its also good non sweetened) Drank it every morning no problem.

      It was also nice to add heavy cream to give it a little more body.

  4. brittany says

    evening primrose oil, and black and blue cohosh (only to be taken with your midwife present) are other alternatives that are on my list but only in an extreme circumstance.
    I prefer using pilates positions and stretches cuz you can feel the baby move!

    • says

      I actually have a bottle of liquid herbs with both blue and black cohosh in them, but I’m been a little scared to take them! I like the stretching idea!

      • brittany says

        the cohosh roots can speed up your heart rate but not more so than pitocin can, that is why you have to be watched very closely or monitored. the stretches are also great for pelvic, hip or back pain which i have had since week six; the more you do them, the stronger your bones and joints get which really help in the end! swaying your hips side to side and rolling them brings the most amount of release

  5. says

    I’d heard of castor oil to induce labour, so when my second daughter was a week overdue and my doctor was threatening induction (simply because she had three other women due at the same time as me and didn’t want us all giving birth at the same time), I did some research. What I found made me decide I’d wait until the baby was ready. I don’t think the side effects of castor oil are worth it! I did buy a pineapple, as I like it anyway, and drank lots of raspberry leaf tea (though be careful with this one – some ingredients commonly found in teas shouldn’t be consumed during pregnancy. I think hibiscus is one, but you may want to check with your midwife or doctor).
    Bonnie Way recently posted..World Breastfeeding WeekMy Profile

  6. Rachel says

    my midwife talked about using castor oil but instead of ingesting it we rubbed in on the belly then used warming pads and warm towels.. aparently if it is going to work it works quick using it that way… sadly did not totally work for me… but it did make me have some contractions.

  7. Leah says

    its amazing what we will do to speed things up.with baby #1 i tried cohosh, an enema (try to do that at 10 month pregnant for some good laughs) red raspberry leaf tea, nipple stimulation, EPO, my husband donated his services, i ate italian & mexican. nothing worked. baby # 2 i was 4.5cm dilated at 37 wks. i figured lets get the show on the road. i already took EPO and drank RRL tea. In the end acupuncture is what i credit for making my contractions start and making my labor super fast and effective. labor #2 was only 4 hrs start to finish instead of 37 hrs like the first time and labor #2 i only had to push 4 times in fact i had to stop pushing she came so fast. i also think walking about 2 miles a day helped get the baby into position and ready but who knows. also to ladies who think they may have a posterior baby please talk to your chiropractor. mine was able to looses a ligament in my groin when baby #2 started to flip posterior and my water broke 8 hrs later and baby was back in the anterior position.

    • says

      Hmmmm…I’m 6 days overdue and haven’t tried acupuncture yet…may have to try it if she doesn’t come soon! I’ve been getting chiro care all during this pregnancy (for the first time), and I’m so excited to see what a difference in makes in delivery!!

      • Leah says

        my contractions started about 4 hrs after. i did have a few while i was there but there was no pattern. the ones along the sacrum REALLY make for powerful contractions. the lady mentioned to my husband to massage these during labor to help things along and when he tried that i was already having super intense contractions and had to slap his hand off.

        • says

          That’s amazing! I credited a chiro adjustment with starting my second baby’s labor. I hadn’t been going the entire time I was pregnant but went for an adjustment and I had her almost exactly 24 hours later!

  8. amber says

    Evening primrose oil is a good one to. Especially if u cant have sex. Insert one in ur vagina at night and take one orally during the day.

  9. mc says

    Evening primrose oil capsules or forage oil capsules can also soften the cervix. Intercourse is probably one of the best ways if done often- no husband will complain about that as long as you’re into it! It makes it fun and a good reminder that just because you are overdue and possibly not feeling so much in the mood that your husband still has needs that you need to fulfill!

  10. smileygirl2 says

    Well for me itz very uncomfty my stomach tightens every 4 mins could this be labor? Im 35 weeks?

  11. Haley says

    I love this page. It inspired me to go bone my bf, while 39 weeks pregnant and eating pineapples and shaking my groove thang (just like #6 suggested), and had my little girl 5 hours later!

  12. says

    I will be 40 weeks tomorrow. Thank you for posting this. I didn’t know about pineapple, and never thought of dancing. Going to get busy right now. Thanks again for the advice.

  13. Bridget Armstrong says

    When my previously normal sugar levels started rising, my amniotic fluid levels started dropping, and having been 8 cm for 6 weeks (still 2 weeks from EDD), my ob suggested induction after the weekend was over (July 4th). I called my midwife and she suggested it was time to start Nature’s Sunshine’s Master Gland. Per her dosage suggestion, my water broke around 4:30 p.m. but I still hadn’t had any contractions until I laid down for the night around 12:30 a.m. 45 minutes later our little firecracker was born. P.S. I’m of PA Dutch and German heritage so I dilate early like most Amish women do and have very short labors.

  14. AmyK says

    I can honestly say I tried ALMOST ALL of these with my daughter…and STILL had to be medically induced. I’m highly allergic to any food with citric acid (pineapple, orange, lemon, lime, etc.) so I didn’t try that, but nothing else worked. I guess she just REALLY didn’t want to come haha!

    • Jenny says

      39 weeks and a few days, second baby, I tried #1, 4, 6 with no luck. I’ve been drinking the raspberry tea for several weeks every morning.

      But, my first baby at 39 weeks, I took a bath in lavender oil, trying to dull some aches and my water broke as I was getting out. Later, doing further reading I realized it could have been induced by the lavender.

  15. Suzanne says

    My water broke with my 1st son but labor was slow to progress. I had a doula and she recommended the nipple stimulation. My husband and I laughed like she was crazy but being determined for as natural a birthplan as possible, we went into my hospital room bathroom and gave it a whirl, lol. It was not long before serious contractions came. In fact, my doula said one of my contractions was the longest and strongest she had ever witnessed. Unfortunately my delivery remained difficult in spite of the wonder contraction and I ended up with a C section but now have a healthy 10yr old boy (and 7yr old and a new one on the way!)

  16. says

    Worked for my friend: Going to the movies!

    Her daughter was due the first week of June. Memorial Day weekend, she went to see Mission Impossible 2 (which should tell you how long ago this was!)

    Within 24 hours, she was in labor. The nurse said it had something to do with the vibrations from the speakers, since the theater was mostly empty and the film had a lot of explosions, which have low-frequency sound waves.

    I tried it myself. It didn’t induce labor, but I *did* dilate 4 cm in a single weekend…the same weekend hubby and I went to the movies! Maybe the movie didn’t have enough explosions…it was a kid flick, after all.
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    • says

      I am 40 weeks today and as of 2 days ago I was 1cm dilated. I went to a movie last night. I’m interested in seeing how much I’m dilated at my appointment on Monday. Unless I can somehow kick start into labor before then.

  17. says

    Fruit juices are often high in sugar and calories, but don’t be scared dieting at age 70 of them. The second is nepho, often translated” self-controlled” in the NIV but better translated” right-minded, sensible, level-headed”, and,” This product works best when combined with moderate exercise and a sensible diet. It is you who must dieting at age 70 be comfortable with the diet and give up. His scenario shows that when sleep replaces idle activities and the usual mindless snacking you can effortlessly cut calories by 6%.
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  18. allison says

    At 39 weeks this baby is so big I can’t breath its my first boy n 3rd baby, his dad is 6’3 n my dads 6’4 so I know he’s tall my contractions have been going on for 29 hrs and im 2 cm dialated. The contractions are painful but just are not progressing so i went to the Dr he said he’d induce me but i don’t want to do it unnaturally if i don’t have to. Today i started bouncing on the ball and rocking around on it. Doing my daily work or and pumping some colostrum. My contractions are back and pain ful but still not progressing. :( tried orgasms and oils and teas nothings working. Kinda discouraged. I guess I’ll just have to wait. I refuse to use pitocin i think its a vial drug m hurts a womens body. Of course when neccessary i understand but for me they induced my first girl n it was brutal torture. My 2nd came 2weeks early naturally and was easy labor 5 hrs i don’t know why this boys being stubborn. Really hoping that pumping will kick this baby out of me soon…..

    • Dena says

      You’re right along with me. Well, I’m a couple weeks behind. I’m 37w3d and in a lot of pain due to the round ligaments. My groin is hurting so bad, so bad that I can barely walk. On top of it, my appointment on Wednesday the doc informs me that she thinks he’s big, so she’s ordering me an ultrasound this Thursday. I’ve heard so many misconceptions with that. A lot of people say they are almost always off at trying to calculate the babies weight. Anyway, I was curious as I’ve read about the nipple stimulation, so I gave it a try. Mind you, I did it only for a few minutes, and I waited until I hit 37 weeks before trying. Well, that aren’t kidding. I started having contractions that night and went to the hospital the next morning. They were pretty high and 4 minutes apart. Eesh! I wasn’t dilating though, so I was sent home. It did get me to about 60% effacement, which I didn’t have at my appointment. Anyway, I stopped having contractions late last night. I’ve decided that yes it works, but I’m going to wait until my ultrasound this Thursday to see what they say. If they say big and doc starts pushing for c-section I am seriously thinking of doing this again, but not only for a few minutes, in hopes of sending myself into labor. I don’t want a c-section and don’t want pitocin. The stuff is evil and made my last labor very painful, which ended up in c-section anyway.

  19. Melissa says

    On my due date, nothing was happening and i did not want to stay prego any longer (11 days overdue with #1) so i started nipple stimulation, intercourse, walking on a treadmill, squats, extra warm showers and by 10pm still nothing. I had pineapple for lunch 3 days straight as well. After 10pm, i tried the pressure points and had more sex. After a few orgasms i felt a trickle. I was concerned it might be a slow leak, so i called yhe doc

  20. Melissa says

    On my due date, nothing was happening and i did not want to stay prego any longer (11 days overdue with #1) so i started nipple stimulation, intercourse, walking on a treadmill, squats, extra warm showers and by 10pm still nothing. I had pineapple for lunch 3 days straight as well. After 10pm, i tried the pressure points and had more sex. After a few orgasms i felt a trickle. I was concerned it might be a slow leak, so i called the doc and was told to come in and get checked. On my way to the hospital my water broke and 6 hours later my son was born so i believe one of these things definitely helped!

  21. cher says

    I done the pineapple, walking, and tried a break your own water cookie reciepe I found online with in 2 hours of eating them my water broke and 30 min.. later she was here

    • Janell says

      Break your own water cookie? I have never heard of such a thing. What is it? Or where is the recipe you found online?

  22. Michelle says

    #6 worked for all 3 of my boys. I am now 34 weeks pregnant with my 4th boy and 5th child. I will be doing #6 along with a number of others once it gets closer to my due date of Dec 21, 2013. My oldest is our only girl. Thank you so much for your website and information! I am a stay at home mom and a Pastor’s wife. My life is constantly busy and we are slowly changing things over to live a more natural healthy life. I just love all the things I find on this site! Thank you again!

  23. alisha says

    i was 38 weeks pregnant and decided to have a dance around then drank raspberry tea had a nice soak in bath and did nipple stimulation and an hour later my contractions began x

  24. UniqueDahl says

    I am 36 weeks along with our second son. Our first came at 37 weeks, so I’m looking in to natural induction a little earlier this time. It was so wonderful to read all your stories amd insights. I must admit, I laughed my way through most of the comments- they reminded me of our first birth- what went right and what went wrong. During our first birth, my water broke, but then labor completely stopped. 24 hours later (and after trying most of these tricks that would work for about an hour and then stop again) we ended up in a hospital. They induced me with Pitocin, and I was doing fine, no pain but strong contractions. Unfortunately, the nurses didn’t believe their monitors (that I was having such strong contractions) so they kept upping the Pitocin and eventually put me in to ‘back labour,’ which was very painful. I’ll be going in to this birth much more prepared and experienced. Thank you for the stories, pictures, and laughter!

  25. Abigail says

    Pineapple did not work for me, and I ate almost an entire pineapple in a single day! #4 did not make contractions come any faster or harder. Red raspberry leaf tea may have helped labor.

    My midwife had me taking borage oil and Dr. Christophers Birth Prep herbs for 4 weeks prior to my due date. 1.5 weeks to due date, I was 2-3 cm dilated but 0% effaced. 1 week prior to due date I drank 8 cups of RRLT in one day. That same day I saw the midwife; I was still 3 cm dilated but now 50% effaced. She squirted borage oil directly on my cervix too and did a membrane sweep. Contractions came harder after that, but it wasn’t until 3 days later that that they really started. Labor started after I went on a walk and fell, bumping my belly (not recommended). 7 hrs later baby was born. I labored at 5 cm for 4 hrs, and she broke my water at 6 cm; one hour later I was pushing and baby was out in 5 minutes. I’d say that was pretty good for a first-time labor.

    My midwife told me that prior to having first time moms take the borage oil and Birth Prep, she had to transport 6 women for failure to progress in labor in just a few months. Since then (over a period of several years) she’s only had to transport 2. But she stressed that only first time mothers should take it, or they might not get to the hospital in time before baby arrives!

  26. Aerika says

    I was only one day over my due date and I was 90% effaced but only dilated to a one I wasn’t having any signs of labor so my husband and I went boating with his sisters family the next day. I started having contractions every half hour starting at 4:30pm by 11pm there was no change so we decided to get some sleep and see what happened, I was having contractions every 10 minutes by 1:30am and they were every 5 minutes by 3:00 we checked into the hospital at 3:40am to have that baby she was born at 5:30. My brother in law takes credit for her being here.

  27. says

    I am 24 weeks pregnant now. I’ve come to this site to get prepared for when it comes time. This will be my husband and my 6th child. Ive always had to be induced, but never tried any at home remedies. The reason I am now looking is because due to emergency c section, work, traffic, and just a step outside for 5 minutes, my husband has never been in the delivery room when any of his children were born. Since our 4 year old was the emergency C section, we are doing a planned C section this time, the LAST time lol
    The problem is, hubby’s birthday is October 26th and we know for a fact he will be there. But its a Sunday and they will not schedule a C section on a Sunday. SO I’m looking for things I can do on the 25th to kick start labor so that they’ll go ahead with it on that Sunday :)

  28. danielle says

    In my first pregnancy my baby actually made it to 42 weeks gestation.. That is before my doctor mentioned the dreadful test where they check your amniotic fluid by removing some with a needle! That night as a last ditch effort i tried everything . i spring cleaned the house, even things that were already done were redone or done better , sex( making sure to climax at least once) , took a relaxing shower, got a deep tissue massage, and then ate some spicy foods the next morning I awoke to my water breaking ; D

  29. Christina says

    I have 3 beautiful boys and all three labors were induced with the help of my husband (ahem #4 & #6). 😀 Love having a husband so willing to help out lol. Every time I went into labor a couple hours later.

  30. says

    I’m days past my due dates (based on ultrasound and LMP) and I’ve been doing all these things to no avail. Baby’s head is still floating. I guess I’ve counted wrong for my LMP. I have irregular period anyway. OB will decide what to do by next week.


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