Natural labor induction is typically more gentle for mother and baby than a medical induction, which overpowers the body's natural ability to go into labor. With natural labor inducers, the woman's body is encouraged and prompted to start labor, but not forced.
Still, natural labor induction should be used only for good reason -- such as to avoid a Pitocin induction -- and not simply for convenience. Here are some tried and true ways to go into labor naturally.
Help the cervix to ripen and efface, as the body will go into labor much more easily when the cervix is ready. Prostoglandins, those produced by the body and those introduced to the cervix, will help it prepare for labor and delivery of the baby.
Evening primrose oil capsules may be ingested and applied to the cervix during the days and even weeks leading up to full term. Insert 2-3 capsules as close to the cervix as possible and lie down for 30 minutes or longer to allow the oil to coat the cervix.
Walk and do squats for an hour or so several times a day when trying to make yourself go into labor. The motion of walking as well as the force of gravity during squats stimulates the uterus and is a gentle but effective natural labor induction.
Have sex to help your body go into labor naturally. This will both ripen the cervix (seminal fluid is very high in prostoglandins) and stimulate uterine contractions, which will often trigger the real thing. When trying to go into labor, do this as often as comfort allows.
Eat labor-inducing foods. Pineapple is thought to improve protoglandin production and ripen the cervix in preparation for birth. Anecdotal evidence suggests that eating a whole raw pineapple may help you go into labor.
Eggplant Parmesan, likely because of its basil and oregano content, has also been associated with starting labor in full-term pregnancies.
Try nipple stimulation, either manually or with an electric breast pump, to encourage your body to produce oxytocin, which stimulates contractions. Stimulate for two minutes, wait three, and stimulate for two minutes. Repeat this pattern for about 20-30 minutes, but cease if contractions come on too strong or too close together. This is one of the most effective natural labor induction methods.
Work on pressure points used for natural labor induction. Light acupressure, done correctly, can be used to encourage the onset of labor. Pinch and rub in a circular motion the webbing between the thumb and index finger on your hands. Also apply firm pressure to the point about four finger lengths above the ankle on the inside of your leg.
Tips & Warnings
- See "Maternity Acupressure," below, for an in-depth guide to natural labor induction through acupressure.
- Use castor oil (2 TB taken in fruit juice or other beverage) to induce labor naturally only as a last resort, as side effects are often unpleasant.