Looking to Naturally Induce Labor? Try These Easy Tips and Tricks
As a certified fertility awareness educator, I work with women to help them optimize fertility and throughout pregnancy. As women approach the end of their pregnancy, they often ask me how to naturally induce labor and how to do natural labor induction. Below are some tips that I give my clients on natural ways to induce labor. Many of these tips have been used for years, if not centuries, by women as natural ways to induce labor. In fact, I used many of these myself during my recent pregnancy.
How to start labor contractions? Let me start off by saying that the labor process should only begin if your body and baby are ready. So my tips aren’t going to spontaneously induce labor. Our bodies are really wise – they know what they are doing. But there is no harm in giving her a little encouragement to helping the body towards natural labor induction, am I right?
And, many women have sworn that they help!.
In fact, nobody really knows exactly what begins the labor process, but there has been some speculation that when the baby’s lungs are fully developed, things get rolling. We also know that oxytocin is the hormone that stimulates contractions, so there is definitely a hormonal shift that begins happening as the body gets ready for labor. While we aren’t certain what causes this hormonal shift, the main thing to remember is this: contractions, (triggered by oxytocin), help the cervix dilate and thin out (effacement). We also know that prostaglandins are produced naturally by the body during labor to help the cervix dilate and soften. So we need both oxytocin and prostaglandins in order for you to push that baby out.
Here are some of the ways for natural labor induction and how to start labor contractors that are best done starting after 37-38 weeks. While there is very limited research on the natural remedies below to speed along the big day many midwives and women swear by them. Keep in mind that I am not aware of your personal situation, so always ask your doctor or midwife what is best for you. So how to start labor contractions?
Specific Yoga Poses
Movement is key and yoga can really help during pregnancy and as a natural way to induce labor and to start labor contractions. Some specific yoga poses that can help bring the baby down into a good position for labor include squats, bird/dog, lunges, cat/cow, and clam shells. You can try a class at a local studio or find some great online videos to watch. I have been obsessed with @pregnancyandpostpartumtv and her amazing videos. She has videos for each trimester as well as labor prep. I used them throughout my entire pregnancy, and I highly encourage you to check them out!
Bounce on a Birthing Ball
Not only does bouncing on a birthing ball feel amazing, but all that bouncing really helps your baby get into a good position. Plus bouncing on a birthing ball helps to open up and loosen the pelvis. Besides bouncing, you can do pelvic tilts, rotate your hips, lean over the ball and breathe, or just use the ball for stretching. I had a friend who told me she bounced on the birthing ball all day for work and went into labor that night! In addition, lots of women use the birthing ball during early labor while at home to help ease contraction pain and find a more comfortable position.
Midwives often recommend that pregnant women eat 6-8 dates a day. Dates are loaded with fiber and can help with digestion. And eating dates regularly during late pregnancy can help improve the birthing experience. There have even been a few small studies that have showed faster and easier labor when women eat 6-8 dates a day starting 4 weeks before their due date.
When I was pregnant, I ate dates as well as protein bars (like Larabars) with dates regularly.
Labor Inducing Drinks/Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Many women swear that drinking 3 cups of red raspberry leaf tea is a natural labor inducing drink and a way to induce labor. While there is little research on labor inducing drinks, red raspberry leaf tea has amazing antioxidants that help tone and strengthen the uterus. And a small study found that drinking red raspberry tea may help reduce the risk of interventions such as cesareans, forceps, or vacuums during labor, though. 3 cups a day is a lot, but even if you get in 1-2 cups daily, you can benefit.
I LOVE acupuncture for all things hormone balance and fertility. Not only does acupuncture help me feel super relaxed, but it also helps me release and move through stuck emotions. Transitioning into motherhood is a HUGE energy shift. I love that acupuncture can help me process this and work through thoughts/feelings that don’t serve me anymore.
I got acupuncture throughout my entire pregnancy. And as I got past my 38 weeks, my acupuncturist focused on all the best meridian points to help stimulate chi and help with natural labor induction. It is fascinating that we have these various points on our body. The acupuncturist will insert the needles, wait 10-15 minutes, come in and “stimulate them,” and then let them sit for another 10-15. At the end I felt relaxed and knew I was helping myself and the baby.
I highly recommend getting a prenatal massage. Make sure you find a certified prenatal massage therapist. Not only are massages relaxing, but prenatal massages can help relieve muscle tension and improve circulation. When I was at 38 weeks, my massage therapist worked on relaxing my hips, back, and gently massaging the belly. She used specific pressure points to help support and induce labor and also incorporated a combination of CranioSacral therapy.
You may have heard about the recommendation of having sex as a natural labor induction tool and a way to start labor contractions. The human body is so wild…what gets the baby in, can help get the baby OUT!! It’s not about the act of sex, but it’s all about the semen. Semen contains prostaglandins that help stimulate contractions. Having sex 3 times is the equivalent of a dose of Cervidil, which is a drug used to help dilate the cervix. Dilating the cervix naturally sounds better than doing it with medication!
You may not feel like having sex at 38-40 weeks pregnant, but remember… it’s for science…haha! And don’t worry-it won’t harm the baby.
During labor, you want to make sure you stay relaxed (you need to produce oxytocin after all!) and low steady, breathing helps to push the energy of your baby downward and out. But how you practice breath work matters. In the movies/media, we see people tensing their neck, shoulders and face and making high pitched sounds. This is the exact opposite energy the body requires to induce labor and easily get that babe out. Instead you want low and slow breathing.
Meditation has so many benefits, from helping you reduce anxiety and cultivate a peace of mind. Plus, meditation can help you to prepare for labor in SO many ways. Meditation helps to get oxytocin moving, which helps as a natural way to start labor contractions by stimulating contractions and progressing labor, all the while, helping to keep the body in a more relaxed state. Meditating not only helps bring your body into a place of relaxation which might induce labor, but when you practice ahead of time, research has shown that it improves birth outcomes and may even reduce the need for interventions! This is because meditation can help keep your mind calm and not get into the fearful or fight-or-flight state in which the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline can actually slow down labor and increase your pain.
The more you meditate, the better you get at it and the more effective it is. So start slowly with 10 minutes a day and keep working up from there.
Other natural ways for natural labor induction
While I did not specifically try these myself, many women claim that some of these have helped induce their labor and how to start labor contractions:
- Pineapple. Pineapple contains bromelain, which is thought to help encourage contractions and loosen the cervix. There’s not much research on this, but there’s no harm in eating some fresh pineapple or mixing it into a smoothie.
- Castor Oil. Some people tout the benefits of castor oil for helping to stimulate intestinal and uterine contractions. It can also cause you to have bad stomach pains so I avoided trying it. I’ve also heard it may increase the risk of your baby pooping during labor (meconium), but I’m not aware of any research on that.
- Spicy Foods. Eating spicy foods is said to help naturally induce labor contractions, although there are no studies on this. But spicy foods are also known to increase heartburn, so it’s your toss-up!
- Walking. This one is a GREAT one. Walking can be a simple way to help draw the baby down into the pelvis. Plus it’s great exercise for you!
I hope that my tips and tricks help you throughout your pregnancy and during labor. If you want more tips on how to naturally induce labor or to learn more about working with me personally, check out my website at Nourishedwithnina.com
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