The worries around pregnancy never end. At first, you are concerned with birth control and infertility, then with pregnancy itself only to find that you start worrying when you cross 38-40 weeks of pregnancy. You expect to start labor contractions but nothing is happening. Normally, when a woman passes her due date, it is considered an overdue pregnancy. Nonetheless, it is not really dangerous for the mother or child if the delivery is delayed by 5-10 days. However, it is a pregnancy warning sign when parturition is overdue by more than 2 weeks. If you are wondering how to induce labor at home or start labor contractions, then we’ve got you covered. Our home remedies to induce labor naturally are all the tips you need to know.
Points to Remember before using Natural Methods to Induce Labor
Seek advice from your doctor and take note of the following points before trying any of the natural ways to induce labor:
- If the pregnancy is a high-risk pregnancy or if you have any notable medical condition, then avoid inducing labor naturally.
- Keep your hospital bags packed and also keep your doctor informed before using any labor stimulator medications or herbs.
- For partners, take extra care of a pregnant woman when inducing labor naturally. When her water breaks, take her to the hospital immediately and do not continue with the induction process.
- Keep in close contact with a certified therapist or midwife if you are following any of the natural ways to induce labor at home.
- If you fail to start contractions early, pause before repeating the process or trying out any other method.
- Don’t try to induce labor before the 40 weeks’ gestation period has passed. Before this, the fetus is not completely matured and ready for birth (1, 2).
The chances of cervical ripening increases when a full-term pregnant woman continues to have sex with her partner.
Sex triggers the release of oxytocin which is a key hormone that induces labor. The semen also contains prostaglandins that ripen the cervix and cause it to dilate (3).
- If you suffer from placenta previa or any other complications with your pregnancy, then you should avoid sex.
- The chances of dilation are high when a pregnant woman has intercourse. If the waters break, go to hospital immediately.
- If you suffer from vaginal bleeding, sex is not a recommended natural labor induction option.
- Due to a lack of gathered evidence, sex as means to induce labor has not been medically proven either way (4).
2. Nipple Stimulation
This is the second most recommended way to induce labor. Similar to having sex, nipple stimulation also increases the release of oxytocin which can start labor contractions (5).
This is a simple yet very effective method which involves stimulating the nipples (areolas) in the same way a baby suckles while nursing.
If you want to know how to stimulate nipples to induce labor, it is very simple.
Note – Take breaks between nipple stimulation exercises. Do not repeat this process for more than three times a day.
Use a fragrance-free moisturizer to massage around the nipple. Rubbing your nipples with bare fingers can become sore and painful after a while.
3. Castor Oil
You can drink castor oil to induce labor contractions. Castor oil stimulates your gut and uterus to cause the first contraction (9).
Castor oil has been traditionally used as a remedy to induce labor. It is available in the form of capsules, juice, a solution used in colonic irrigation (10).
Note – Do not drink more than 60 ml of castor oil as it can cause diarrhea in pregnant women, leading to dehydration and loss of energy.
Castor oil can also lead to fetal bowel movements. There is not enough evidence pointing either way on the effectiveness and safety of castor oil.
In some studies, it has been found that this oil only causes nausea and diarrhea, not labor (11).
In this method, thin needles are inserted into the specific points of the body. This triggers the activity of uterus.
Note – Consult your midwife or doctor before using the acupuncture labor induction method. Follow this method only when your due date is close, or when your due date has passed.
The possibility of labor induction with acupuncture is very high, so do not to try it, if your pregnancy is not full-term.
Recent research has revealed that eating dates during third trimester is one of the more effective natural ways to induce labor.
Women who consumed 6 dates a day for four weeks started contractions earlier compared to women who did not eat them.
Dates also make your contractions longer leading to higher cervical dilatation. As a result, the first phase of labor is shortened.
When women eat dates during third trimester, the chances of spontaneous labor are also very high (15).
Note – Do not eat too many dates as they may upset your stomach. In addition, eating date fruits may produce a higher amount of body heat, so drink a glass of boiled milk along with the dates.
It is not recommended that you eat dates in the first or second trimester without consulting your doctor.
Walking is also one among the natural ways to induce labor. If you want to know when to start walking to induce labor, the answer is as soon as you feel your first contraction.
Walking after your first contraction shortens the time interval between your contractions.
When a full-term pregnant woman walks, her baby’s head is pressed hard towards her cervix which helps ripen it. Walking also encourages the baby to pass through the cervix.
Try not to exhaust yourself by walking fast as it causes energy loss.
Pineapple contains bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme which is thought to soften the cervix and the neck of your womb, speeding up labor.
There is not a huge amount of direct research into the benefits of pineapple to induce labor, but lab experiments show promise.
In one lab study, pineapple extract was tested on donated strips of human uterine muscle as well as rat uterine muscle.
The researchers found that the pineapple extract induced strong uterine contractions in both the rat and human tissue. (19)
Also, there is plenty of evidence that bromelain reduces inflammation in pregnant women after childbirth, especially when breastfeeding. (20)
- Eating too much pineapple may cause diarrhea in pregnant women. Do not drink pineapple juice.
- Avoid canned pineapple as it destroys the bromelain content in the fruit.
8. Climb Stairs
Climbing stairs helps position the baby correctly and also gives more pressure to your cervix to cause waters to break.
Try to climb stairs often when you are overdue, but ask your doctor before doing it. As said earlier, don’t exhaust yourself by climbing stairs. Listen to your body. (20).
9. Evening Primrose Oil
However, the consumption of EPO tablets is recommended only after the 36th week of pregnancy to ensure contractions start on time.
When eating EPO tablets do not work out, insert 2 EPO tablets of 500 mg directly near your cervix before you go to bed.
There is a very strong chance that the cervix ripens and waters break when you get up in the morning. You need to have your midwife nearby when you use an EPO tablet for labor induction.
10. Spicy Foods
It is thought that spicy food can cause contractions as spicy food increases the production of the hormone prostaglandin. This hormone is known to speed up labor.
Many women tend to avoid eating spicy food since there is a myth that eating spicy food can affect the hair growth of the baby.
Eating spicy food as the due date approaches can actually help in cervix ripening (24).
There is decent evidence that acupressure does work to induce labor. It assists with ripening the cervix for labor (25).
Seek out expert advice or take recommendations from your midwife for this treatment option.
Wait at least 24 hours between sessions before repeating the process as acupressure takes at least 12 hours to work.
Massages not only induce labor but also keeps nausea and vomiting at bay when contractions happen.
13. Warm Bath
A warm bath can also induce labor (29). But the temperature of the water should not be very high.
Too high a temperature will cause the baby stress. You can also add 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil to the bath water to relieve stress.
14. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is probably one of them. While there is some anecdotal evidence that it works, there is no direct evidence or research.
However, we include as balsamic vinegar as a natural remedy to trigger labor as it is so popular.
Besides which, the vinegar is absolutely delicious
Add balsamic to your salad.
Bananas are a rich source of potassium in your diet.
It has long been known that potassium can stimulate muscle contractions.
- Do not overeat bananas.
- Avoid consuming potassium supplements as they can be noxious if taken incorrectly.
Dancing is also a great way to induce labor, but, without stating the obvious, be careful.
Ensure that you just move your body but do not strain yourself (32).
Again, the gentle body motions that you go through while swimming help position the baby, putting pressure on the cervix.
Try swimming to naturally induce labor once your due date is passed.
Squats will help move the baby to the down position and fix his/her head, ready for labor (33).
We include it as a home remedy to induce labor simply for completeness. Alcohol is known muscle relaxant so in our opinion, wine could indeed have the opposite effect on labor induction. i.e reducing your chances.
Herbs to Induce Labor
Before you use any herbs to induce labor, keep in mind that FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate the herbalist sector.
Therefore, the purity and potency of herbs that are purchased from different companies may vary considerably.
These herbs may also comprise of chemicals or preservatives. Intake of high doses of drugs may have an adverse effect on your health.
If you are already taking medications, some herbs may counteract their effects. Thus, you are recommended to seek advice from your midwife or physician before you use any herbal remedy.
20. Raspberry Leaf
Studies suggest that raspberry leaf does shorten labour with no identified side effects for women or their babies.
Research also indicates that women who take raspberry leaf are less likely to receive an artificial rupture, require a caesarean section, or forceps or vacuum birth. (35).
Basil also increases blood circulation which is very important for healthy pregnancy (36).
Basil is also used in some cultures to induce labor and late periods.
Add more basil in your food, and also drink basil tea twice as a method to bring on contractions.
In one study, it was shown that exposure to the active compounds present in licorice did not significantly affect birth weight or maternal blood pressure.
However, the study also showed that licorice consumption was associated with lower gestational age and pregnancy term. (39)
It also alleviates false labor pains and prevents miscarriages.
It can be taken in the form of pill or tea to onset labor.
Research published in the 2003 “Alternative Medicine Review.” found that fenugreek causes uterine stimulation in animal tests.
Fenugreek encourages uterine contractions and proves beneficial to induce childbirth.
Tea to Induce Labor
There are plenty of types of tea to induce labor. Drinking cumin tea, ginger tea, thyme tea, cotton root tea can all help start early labor contractions.
Always check with your midwife or doctor before using any herbal tea. Your doctor will suggest when you should begin and how often to drink the herbal tea.
25. Cumin Tea
Add 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds in a cup of boiling water. As cumin is bitter in taste, add a small chunk of raw potato to reduce the bitterness.
Strain the tea and drink it. This herbal remedy will help contract the uterus.
26. Ginger Tea
You can also consume spicy ginger cookies.
27. Thyme Tea
Thyme is a popularly used herbal medicine among pregnant women (41).
Steep fresh thyme leaves in boiling water to prepare tea. Drink it to induce labor pain.
28. Cotton Root Tea
It also boosts up the production of milk in the nursing moms.
29. Cinnamon Stick Tea
Cinnamon stick tea is given to a pregnant woman close to her due date.
Cinnamon stick tea can ripen the cervix faster to cause early water breakage.
Note- We take great pride in ensuring that all our home remedies are carefully researched. However, we still strongly recommend that you to take advice from your doctor or midwife before consuming/applying these home remedies.