As I write this, I’m 40 weeks and 3 days, and even though I’ve had a pretty easy pregnancy, I can’t wait to meet our baby boy and relieve the aches and pains that have crept up this week. This post is a compilation of possible natural ways to induce labor that I’ve heard from midwives, my doula, friends, and Google. Keep in mind that these can encourage your body to go into labor, but probably won’t work if your baby and body aren’t ready. Most have mixed results from studies testing their effectiveness, but hey, worth a try, right?

Please get approval from your provider before trying any of these methods.

Foods to help induce labor

Spicy food: Spicy foods can irritate your digestive system and cause your uterus to contract, possibly starting contractions.

Pineapple: One site said to eat a whole pineapple, but that’s excessive, so I’ve just been eating a few pieces daily and put some in a fruit smoothie when I make one.

Dates: If you’ve never had dried dates before, they’re super sweet and sticky. Eating 4-6 per day can help soften your cervix.

Red raspberry leaf tea: Raspberry leaf tea is good for the uterus at any point in life, but can be especially beneficial during late pregnancy and postpartum because it helps strengthen and tone the uterus. My doula recommended 1-3 cups per day. I heard it’s a slight diuretic though so I make sure I drink water at the same time.

Hydration: Water won’t actually help start labor, but it’s super important to be hydrated as you approach/pass your due date for multiple reasons. First, being hydrated helps maintain healthy amniotic fluid levels; a decrease in amniotic fluid could lead to needing to be medically induced. Second, you want to go into labor hydrated so your body can perform at it’s best, and so you don’t need to be hydrated via IV. Third, being dehydrated can make braxton hicks (practice contractions) feel like real contractions; hydrating will help reduce the chances of thinking you’re in labor when it’s really false labor.

Exercises to start labor

Walking: My doula recommended walking twice a day for 30 minutes. This allows gravity to help bring your baby down.

Curb walking: While walking (or simply using a step inside), walk with one foot on the curb and one in the street. This asymmetrical move helps the baby drop into your pelvis. My doula recommended 30 each side, twice a day. I’ve heard you can also simply walk up the stairs sideways- just make sure you use a handrail for balance!

The Miles Circuit: The Miles Circuit is a 90 minute routine that helps the baby get into the birthing position. I wouldn’t call it exercises, since several involve just laying down in certain positions. You can find the moves in this YouTube video.

Yoga/birthing ball exercises: My doula recommended spending 30 minutes on a yoga ball, twice a day. During that time, make small circles in both directions with your hips, big circles in both directions with your hips, trace a figure 8 with your hips, and bounce on the ball. This helps open your pelvis and encourages your baby to drop lower.

Cat-cow: On all fours, arch your back up and down while looking down as you arch, and up as you drop your spine down. Aim to do this 30 times, twice a day.

Professionals that can induce labor:

Chiropractors that know “Webster’s technique”: Webster’s technique aligns the pelvis and can help rotate a breech baby, but our doula also recommended it as a way to initiate labor.

Acupuncture: I don’t like needles so I haven’t considered this option, but that hasn’t kept people from mentioning it as an option.

Acupressure: For this one, you actually don’t necessarily need a professional. Our doula showed my husband a pressure point between my thumb and pointer finger, and another on the back of my calf that he’s been able to massage each night for me. These pressure points can increase blood flow to the uterus and potentially cause contractions. You can learn more about acupressure from WebMD here.

Additional ways to start labor

Sex: From what I’ve read, having sex seems like it might be the most effective way to start labor naturally because semen contains a chemical that softens the cervix. If you feel up to it, give it a try!

Pumping/hand expression/nipple stimulation: Starting to pump/hand express and nipple stimulation can all trigger uterine contractions which can start labor naturally.

Relax: I know it’s hard to relax when your life is about to completely change, but you don’t want to be stressed while waiting to go into labor. If so, your body will likely be in a fight/flight mode and won’t think it’s safe to give birth. To relax, try massage (either from a professional or your husband), meditation (there are lots of free apps and YouTube videos), watch a funny movie, etc.

I know it feels like your baby might not ever come, but I promise he/she will- possibly sooner than you think! In the meantime, use this time to get some last minute chores and preparations done.

I hope these natural ways to induce labor are helpful; give some a try and let me know which worked for you in the comments!

Natural Ways to Induce Labor

Sarah's a boy mom, wife to her high school sweetheart, and part-time expat due to her husband's job. In her free time, she loves walking in the sunshine, cooking, and spending time with her husband.

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