Are you a mom-to-be who has crossed 38-40 weeks of pregnancy and eagerly waiting for your first constriction? Normally, when a woman passes her due date, then it is considered as overdue pregnancy. Nonetheless it is not really dangerous for the mother and child if the delivery is delayed by 5-10 days. But when parturition is overdue for about 2 weeks, then it is something everyone must concern and think about following the natural ways to induce labor.
Points to Remember before using Natural Methods to Induce Labor
Seek advice from your doctor and consider a few points before following any of the natural ways to induce labor:
- If the pregnancy is a high-risk pregnancy or if the mother has any notable medical condition, then avoid inducing labor naturally.
- Keep your hospital bags packed and also keep your doctor informed before getting into any dosage of labor stimulator medications or using herbs.
- Give extra care to the pregnant woman while inducing labor naturally. Especially when the water breaks, it is ideal that you take her to the hospital immediately and not continue with the induction process.
- Keep in touch with a certified therapist or at least an experienced person at home if you are following any of the natural ways to induce labor at home.
- When you follow any natural way to induce labor, take some time before repeating the process or trying out any other method.
- Don’t try to induce the pain before 40 weeks’ gestation period, as before this; the fetus is not completely matured and ready for birth (1, 2).
Home Remedies to Induce Labor
Basically, labor induction involves ripening of the cervix through which the water releases or dilation happens faster and labor starts. The chances of cervical ripening increases, as a full-term pregnant woman continue to have sex with her partner. Besides, sex triggers the release of oxytocin which is a key hormone that induces labor. The semen also contains prostaglandins that ripens cervix and causes it to dilate (3).
- If a woman is having placenta previa or any other complications with her pregnancy, then it is good to avoid this method.
- The chances of dilation are high when a pregnant woman indulges in an intercourse. If the water breaks, hospitalize the woman immediately.
- In case of vaginal bleeding, sex is not a recommended natural labor induction option.
- This method do not have any certain results in inducing labor (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 to cause labor contraction (5). This is a simple yet very effective method which involves stimulating the nipples (areolas) like how a baby sucks while nursing. Massage around your nipples for at least 15 minutes and stimulate one nipple at a time. Repeat this process for about three times a day to increase oxytocin release in your body (6, 7).
Note – Stimulate nipples after intervals. Do not repeat this process for more than three times a day. Use any fragrance-free moisturizer to massage around the area since rubbing with bare fingers may make it sore and painful.
3. Castor Oil
Drink castor oil to induce labor pain. Castor oil stimulates your gut and uterus to cause the first contraction at the earliest (8, 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 may cause severe diarrhea in a pregnant woman, pushing her to extreme dehydration and loss of energy. Using castor oil can also lead to fetal bowel movements. There are no enough evidences on the effectiveness and safety of castor oil.
In many cases it has been found that this oil only causes nausea and diarrhoea, not labor (11).
Acupuncture is one of the ancient remedies that have been used since thousands of years to induce labor. In this method, thin needles are inserted into the specific points of the body. This triggers the activity of uterus. This method also reduces the pain involved in the natural parturition (12, 13, 14).
Note – Consult your midwife or doctor before using 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 researches have revealed that eating date fruit at the later stages of pregnancy can be considered as one among the functional natural ways to induce labor. Women who consumed 6 date fruits in a day for four weeks got their labor early compared to women, who did not eat them. Date fruit also makes your contractions longer, thus, higher cervical dilatation happens. In this way, the first phase of labor gets shortened. When women eat date fruits at their third trimester, the chances of getting spontaneous labor are also very high (15).
Note – Do not over eat dates as it may upset your stomach. In addition, eating date fruits may produce a higher amount of heat in your body, so drink a glass of boiled milk after having 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 have got your first contraction, start walking immediately as it may shorten the time interval between your contractions. When a full-term pregnant woman walks, her baby’s head is pressed hard towards her cervix to ripen it. Walking also encourages the baby to get through the cervix on time. Try not to exhaust yourself by walking fast as it causes energy loss. You need to save your energy for the other stages of labor, so stay energetic and hydrated (16, 17).
Pineapple contains bromelain- an enzyme that softens the cervix and the neck of your womb to speed up labor. So, eat pineapples (at least seven) to get labor fast (18, 19).
- Eating more pineapple may also cause diarrhea in a pregnant woman. Do not drink pineapple juice.
- Avoid canning as it may destroy the bromelain content in the pineapples.
8. Climb Stairs
This may not be recommended for many women with high risk pregnancy, but it is an effective way during normal pregnancy. Climbing stairs may help position the baby right and also gives more pressure to your cervix to cause water breakage. Try to climb stairs often when you are overdue, but ask your doctor before doing it. As said earlier, it is good if you don’t exhaust yourself by climbing stairs often, since you may get tired easily (20).
9. Evening Primrose Oil
However, intake of EPO tablets is recommended twice a day after 36th week of pregnancy to expect labor 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 100% chance that cervix ripens and breaks when you get up in the morning. You need to have your midwife when you use an EPO tablet for labor induction.
10. Spicy Foods
It is believed that eating spicy food can induce labor naturally. 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 (23, 24).
Just like acupuncture, acupressure can also increase the chances of natural contraction in women once they are close to their due date. It assist with ripening the cervix for labor (25). Seek expert’s help or you can take recommendations from your midwife to get this treatment done. Take at least 24 hours interval to repeat the process as acupressure takes at least 12 hours to work
Massage not only induces labor but also keeps nausea and vomiting at bay when contraction happens. Massage can relieve an expecting woman from stress and energy loss during labor. Take a massage from expert masseuse, in order to induce labor (26, 27, 28).
13. Warm Bath
Warm water bath can also induce labor (29). But the temperature of the water should not be very high; otherwise, it will cause the baby stress. You can also add 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil to the bath water.
14. Balsamic Vinegar
Sour balsamic vinegar is also a natural remedy to trigger labor. Add it to your salad and try having it at least for 5 days.
- 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 be very careful when you dance. Ensure that you just move your body and not strain yourself in inducing labor (32).
Swimming increases your possibilities of getting muscle contraction early. Do swimming to naturally induce labor once your due date is already over.
Doing squats can move baby to the down position and fix his/her head to make him/her ready to come out early (33).
It is believed that wine enhances the probability of getting early labor contractions, but for safety purposes it is not recommended.
Herbal Remedies to Induce Labor
Before you use any herbal remedy, keep in mind that FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is not the regulating authority of herbs business. 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
Raspberry leaf acts as a uterine tonic to stimulate labor. Tea of this herb softens the cervix and helps in natural labor (34, 35).
Note: There is no scientific evidence regarding this remedy.
Licorice contains prostaglandin which plays a vital role in inducing labor (37, 38). Being slightly laxative in nature licorice helps stimulate contractions. Try to get the natural one that has less sugar and more licorice.
Motherwort prevents false labor or irregular contractions. It can be taken in the form of pill or tea to onset labor.
Fenugreek encourages uterine contractions and proves beneficial to induce childbirth (39).
Drinking cumin tea, ginger tea, thyme tea, cotton root tea and dry ginger tea also works towards causing early labor contractions. Always check with your midwife or doctor before using any herbal tea. Your doctor will suggest you when to begin and how often to drink the herbal tea.
25. Cumin Tea
Add 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds in a cup of boiling water. Since cumin is bitter in taste, you can add 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
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
Cotton Root tea induces labor and increases contractions during parturition. 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 that causes early water breakage.
Note- Though these home remedies have been written carefully, we still highly recommend you to take advice from your doctor before consuming/applying these home remedies.