A full term pregnancy is typically calculated at 40 weeks, and at 40 weeks from conception, your due date is determined. If you’ve passed your due date, you will likely feel uncomfortable, impatient, or excited to meet your little bundle of joy. Before you turn to medical interventions to induce labor, there are a number of ways you can naturally induce yourself at home.
Before trying any of these methods, consult with your gynecologist or healthcare provider to make sure it is safe to do so. These natural methods are not medically proven to induce labor, but are here for suggestion only. What works for one mother, may not work for another. Nonetheless, these natural ways of inducing labor are worth trying, especially if your due date has come and gone.
Here are seven ways to induce yourself naturally at home.
8 Eat Pineapple and Other Tropical Fruits
Pineapple can actually trigger labor. It contains the enzyme bromelain, which is thought to help soften the connective tissues of the cervix, thus bringing forth labor contractions. Bromelain is best known for special protein-digesting enzymes. Eating large amounts will likely stimulate the digestive system and kick-start the uterus into action.
Pineapple isn’t the only food that contains protein-digesting enzymes. Other tropical fruits such as papaya, mango and kiwi also provide a source of bromelain. So, if a pineapple isn’t your favorite, try experimenting with a fruit you enjoy.
It is encouraged that women trying to induce labor eat a fresh pineapple or drink fresh pineapple juice as it provides an essential source of bromelain than dried or frozen pineapple.
Does eating pineapple really work?
Although pineapple has helped to induce labor naturally, it is important to remember that it contains only a small amount of bromelain. That means you will likely have to eat 7-10 pineapples before things get going, which is not recommended for the high sugar content it contains. Sugar will offer a boost of energy, but this short-lived energy could leave you feeling tired, especially if you go into labor.
7 Eat Garlic
You’ve probably heard that spicy foods induce labor, but garlic is actually the most important ingredient when trying to induce labor naturally. Eating enough garlic can actually cause your bowels to empty, which gives the room so your baby can move lower in your body. The lower your baby is, the more he can stimulate your cervix and eventually cause labor to begin.
Does eating garlic really work?
As mentioned, garlic has been theorized to induce contractions by stimulating the digestive system. When it comes to labor, active digestion is linked to getting things going. However, some suggest that eating garlic to induce labor is a myth and will only produce gas pains and dehydration.
6 Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
The leaves of the raspberry plant have been used as a medicinal herb for centuries, so it’s no wonder why pregnant women love this natural remedy. While it is not proven to induce labor, a red raspberry leaf can help contribute to an early labor.
Red raspberry leaves contain a rich assortment of vitamins, including calcium, iron, B complex, magnesium, and fragarine. This natural herbal supplement can be taken as a tea or in pill form. When taken during pregnancy, red raspberry leaf is known to aid a mother’s immune system, ease morning sickness and promote better circulation. Red raspberry leaf is also believed to help strengthen uterine muscles and tone the pelvic floor. This helps to prepare for childbirth so that labor can start naturally and on time.
Does red raspberry leaf tea really work?
Red raspberry leaf tea may not directly induce labor. However, studies show that pregnant women who regularly consumed this herbal supplement had shorter second stages of labor than those who didn’t.
5 Rest On All Fours
Resting on all fours will help get your baby into the proper delivery position. When your baby’s head puts downward pressure on your cervix, the cervix will efface, and labor will start to begin. Resting on all fours for ten minutes at a time, several times a day can actually help move your baby’s head into an optimal position for childbirth.
To encourage comfort for both you and your baby, prop yourself up on cushions. Doing this will also help your baby get into a more lateral position.
Does resting on all fours really work?
Resting on all fours can definitely help put your baby into proper positioning for labor. However, it is important not to be tempted to lie on your back with your feet up. Lying on your back will encourage your baby to lie along your backside, and this could put him into a back-to-back posterior position. Posterior positioned babies are known to prolong the labor process because it takes much longer for them to move down into the cervix.
4 Sexual Intercourse
Many overdue mothers will have sex as a way to induce labor. Although there is no true medical evidence that links sex and the induction of labor, there are some ways in which sex could help to get things going. They are:
- Having an orgasm. It releases a hormone called oxytocin, which can help stimulate the uterus, thus bringing forth contractions.
- Semen, which contains a chemical that assists in relaxing tissues. It can also soften your cervix, forcing it to efface and eventually dilate.
Many women nearing their due date are reluctant to have sex because they believe it may not be safe for the baby. Sex is completely safe during all stages of pregnancy. Only after your water has broken can sex become dangerous as it could heighten the risk of infection. You should also refrain from sex if your placenta is low, or if you’ve had a record of vaginal bleeding throughout your pregnancy.
Does having sex really work?
Although there is no medical evidence that proves sex can naturally induce labor, studies have shown that women who had sexual intercourse after 36 weeks of pregnancy were significantly less likely to go past their due date or require labor induction.
3 Nipple Stimulation
Nipple stimulation is another possible way to induce labor naturally. Prolonged nipple stimulation will prompt the brain to release the contraction-inducing hormone, oxytocin. There is a small amount of evidence that suggests nipple stimulation brings forth labor, but you can still try it out.
If you want to try out nipple stimulation, gently rub or roll on your nipples with the palm of your hand for an hour, three times per day. Start with one breast and stimulate it for 15 minutes and then alternate to the other breast for another 15 minutes. Repeat on each breast until the hour is up.
The idea of nipple stimulation is to trick your body into thinking it is nursing your baby so that it can release enough oxytocin to start labor contractions.
Does nipple stimulation really work?
It has been studied that nipple stimulation can bring forth labor, but you will likely have to spend up to three hours per day rubbing your breasts. That is why it is best not to count on nipple stimulation as a way to kick start labor. In fact, it is only when your body is ready and primed to go into labor that nipple stimulation could actually work.
Acupressure is one of the most effective and safest methods of natural labor induction. Acupressure is a form of therapy that targets certain pressure points on the mother’s body. This can actually help move the baby into a proper delivery position.
How does acupressure work?
Through the use of acupressure, contractions can be stimulated with the following pressure points:
- In the webbing of the thumb and index finger
- Four fingers-width above the inside of your ankle bone
- In the lower back on each side
Although using maternity acupressure can be very helpful, it is important to get your doctor’s consent first. Never perform the procedure before you have completed all stages of pregnancy.
Does acupressure really work?
Though the studies are scarce, the common answer is yes. Acupressure can be one of the most effective forms of natural labor induction. However, it may take up to 48 hours before things actually get started.
What else can I do?
If you’ve surpassed your due date, it can be very difficult not to think about anything but when your labor will start. Instead of worrying about when this will happen, try to keep yourself busy by making the most of the extra time you have.
Here are some suggestions for keeping busy while you wait for your baby’s arrival:
- Stock up the kitchen. Make sure your fridge, freezer and cupboards are fully stocked with pre-made meals. When your baby decides to come, your newborn will likely be your number one priority. This means you will not have the time to prepare or cook any meals in the first few weeks of your baby’s life.
- Get plenty of rest. You'll need plenty of energy for labor. Even if you're having trouble sleeping, relax and try to stay as stress-free as possible.
- Get prepared. Pack your hospital bag with everything you think you'll need for the hospital so you're ready to leave as soon as your baby is ready to arrive.
- Perform labor-inducing exercises. There are a few exercises you can complete that can get your body ready for childbirth and possibly help to naturally induce labor at home.
- You can perform the following exercises:
- Pelvic tilts or abdominal lifts
- Leaning forward against a birthing or an exercise ball
- Slow and controlled squats
- Kegal exercises
- Butterfly stretches
- Slow and controlled lunges
- Stair climbing
- Pamper yourself. Plan a date night with your partner, catch up with friends or get a massage. Spending quality time with yourself as well as your loved ones will help make the most of the last few days of your pregnancy. If you have something planned every day, the time will definitely go by much faster than if you’re sitting at home counting the seconds on the clock.
When naturally inducing your labor, the most important thing to have is patience. Impatience and stress could actually reverse the effects of natural labor induction, prolonging the entire process. Should your pregnancy go overdue, you can try these methods as a natural form of labor induction. As mentioned, what may work for one mother, may not necessarily work for another, so keep calm and always remember to consult with a qualified practitioner before you perform any of the methods mentioned above.