Natural Ways to Induce Labor

You are nine months pregnant and as comfortable in your body as a whale in a sardine can.  Although your due date is only weeks away, you just swear that you could give birth “anytime now.”  But, then you don’t.  Days pass.  A week passes.  You catch a glimpse of yourself in a store window as you walk by and shudder as you realize you could be starring in “March of the Penguins.”  You begin a frenzied quest to find anything – anything – that will start labor.

Luckily, there are some things you can try to begin the process of labor naturally.  Keep in mind that there’s no guarantee that you’ll wind up holding your baby within a few hours of trying these.  But, then again, you might.

*     Play ball.  Try bouncing on an exercise ball.  If it doesn’t work, you can at least say that you exercised well into your ninth month.

*    Take a ride.  Toss your partner the car keys and have him take you on a bumpy ride.  At the very least, you will get to spend some quality time traveling with your significant other.

*    Go for a walk/waddle.  While you walk, gravity helps the baby move into the birthing position, with its head putting pressure on the cervix, which could help the cervix to dilate.

*    Stimulate your nipples.  Nipple massage causes the body to release oxytocin, which is a hormone that triggers contractions.  Now, don’t expect to experience any progress after a ten-minute massage; this one takes some commitment.  You’ll need to massage your nipples for an hour, three times a day (alternate breasts every fifteen minutes) in order to get things going.

*    Have sex.  Beg, plead, even blackmail your partner into performing this highly gymnastic feat with a nine-month-pregnant you.  Like nipple stimulation, intercourse also releases oxytocin.  Plus, the presence of semen (which contains high levels of prostaglandins) helps soften the cervix.  Bonus:  Having an orgasm causes the uterus to contract – yet another way to start contractions.

*    Eat spicy food.  The idea here is that spicy food could upset your bowels, causing them to contract, which may then cause your uterus to contract.  

*    Drink red raspberry leaf tea.  This is not tea that is raspberry-flavored.  In fact, this tea is derived from the actual leaf of the raspberry plant and has a mild flavor that is totally different from the raspberry fruit.  This tea is believed to cause the uterus to contract.

*    Have your doctor strip your membranes.  What this means is that your doctor will insert a gloved finger through the cervix to detach the amniotic membranes from the uterus.  Your cervix must be dilated to at least two centimeters before this can be done.  When your membranes are stripped, this causes the body to release prostaglandins.  If this procedure is going to work (i.e. your body is ready for it to work), labor will typically begin within 24 hours. Note:  This is not the same thing as breaking your water.  You must go to the hospital if your water breaks, to avoid risk of infection.

Ultimately, your body will determine when you will go into labor.  In the meantime, it’s worth a try to explore some of these things if it means getting one step closer to meeting your newborn.