12 Natural Induction Methods You Can Do Today: Advice from a Labor Nurse
Are you wondering which natural induction methods actually work? One of the MAIN complaints I hear from mamas approaching 40+ weeks pregnant is, “STICK A FORK IN ME, I’M DONE!”. Those last few weeks leading up to delivery can be pretty unbearable, to say the least.
You’re tossing and turning all night, probably getting up 10 times to pee, and OH YEAH, a 6-10 pound baby is playing soccer in your uterus.
I have patients come through triage ALL THE TIME begging to be induced. Pitocin works GREAT at throwing you into labor, but the reality is, letting your body go into labor spontaneously versus an elective medical induction is associated with far less maternal complications, including labor interventions, length of maternal hospital stay, and c-section rates.
Don’t get me wrong, medical inductions involving Pitocin are necessary. If you have a MEDICAL REASON you need baby on the outside instead of in, by all means, Pitocin it up! But…if your chief complaint is “I’m tired of being pregnant”, sorry mama, it’s much better to let your babe pick his/her birthday.
WITH THAT SAID, there are PLENTY of safe, effective forms of natural induction out there you can try at home to help encourage a birthday party!
DISCLOSURE: Please check with your provider before attempting any of these methods. And, DO NOT perform any of these methods of induction before you are 37 weeks pregnant!
EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
Evening primrose oil is an herbal supplement that is thought to help not only induce labor, but to shorten labor duration. It can be taken orally, and/or inserted vaginally before bed. I recommend beginning with one 1000mg capsule orally, once a day, along with one capsule inserted vaginally before bed. After a few days of doing this, you may increase the dose to three 1000mg capsules orally per day, and continue with one capsule vaginally before bed. Some women report GI issues, so that’s why it’s best to gradually increase your dosage.
Walking can be very effective at making your uterus contract and your cervix to dilate. As you walk, your baby is bouncing up and down, putting increased pressure upon your cervix which causes it to gently thin and open. Get your work-out on though, no casual strolls! Power walk that baby out!
I recommend this to any term pregnant lady who has $60 to spare! It’s a massage for ONLY your feet! There are certain pressure points located in your feet and ankles that are thought to stimulate labor. Wonderful if you’ve been walking around all day as well!
PINEAPPLE (CORE INCLUDED)
Pineapple is a common food pregnant ladies like to eat to simulate uterine contractions. But, most of them aren’t eating the part that may actually work, the core! The chemical, Bromelain, is most concentrated in the core of a pineapple, and it is thought to soften your cervix and cause uterine cramping.
Sitting and bouncing on a yoga ball is thought to be the same theory on why walking is helpful in changing your cervix. Lots of needed pressure on your cervix for it to soften and dilate! Sitting on a yoga ball is also helping baby get in a good birthing position, it’s good for your lower back, and also helps your posture!
Extra spicy food is thought to stimulate labor because it stimulates your GI system. And…your stomach and bowels are located right next to your uterus! All that rumbling may cause your uterus to contract a bit, and ultimately throw you into labor!
Intercourse is a very popular method of induction! Sex (with or without orgasm) increases uterine activity. Semen is also a natural source of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances responsible for helping to change your cervix during labor. Any sort of nipple stimulation also releases oxytocin, which is a chemical responsible for causing uterine contractions during your labor!
SPEAKING OF NIPPLES
Nipple stimulation is also a very popular method used to stimulate labor. As just described, it causes your body to release oxytocin, which in turn causes contractions. Some women find rolling their nipples intermittently to be effective, others use a breast pump on a low setting.
Chiropractic care can also be beneficial to stimulating labor, and not many women try it! There’s a technique that can be done to stimulate bowel activity and also another procedure that involves putting pressure on one of your uterine ligaments.
RED RASPBERRY LEAF
Red raspberry leaf is an herbal supplement that is thought to increase uterine activity and cause uterine contractions. It is most commonly consumed in tea form, but you must drink A TON for it to be effective. I’m talking about a quart per day. It’s also safe to drink before you are 37 weeks pregnant in smaller amounts.
This is a new-found method, but a very effective one! Dates are thought to stimulate labor because they cause your body to release oxytocin, and they are also high in calcium. Calcium causes muscle contractions, and guess what your uterus is…a huge muscle! They are also a natural laxative which can get things going as well!
A MEMBRANE STRIP
Stripping your membranes is a procedure that your provider may do after you are 37 weeks pregnant. It involves your provider performing a cervical check, and gently separating the amniotic sac from the cervix. This is thought to stimulate prostaglandins, and cause uterine activity, which can cause you to go into labor! Heads up though, you must already be at least one centimeter to have this procedure done (it’s also not the most comfortable thing in the world).
A FEW THINGS NOT TO DO…
I generally advise my patients to avoid castor oil. Castor oil is a strong laxative that is thought to stimulate uterine contractions because it increases GI activity. Anyone I’ve ever taken care of who’s ingested it just has TERRIBLE diarrhea.
Also, while sexual activity is encouraged, please don’t allow your partner to check your cervix, attempt to strip your membranes, or try and break your water! I’m only saying this because I’ve come across each of these scenarios.
There you have it! That’s every EFFECTIVE form I’ve had my patients tell me that’s worked for them. I personally tried almost every method listed as well, so I can tell you from my experience that most of these methods can work for you if done correctly! My baby boy was born four days after his due date, after I performed almost every method I’ve listed, all in one day! I believe the bombardment of techniques was enough to throw my body into full-blown labor the next morning. Success!
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and safe delivery!