How To Induce Labor Naturally

Oct 04, 2021

You're pregnant. Ok, you're very, VERY pregnant.

You're so pregnant that folks at the grocery story give up their place in line for you, and your biggest maternity shirt now fits like a crop top.

Being sick of being pregnant isn't a medical condition, but sometimes it feels like it. I know. I've been there. I remember googling things like How do I get this baby out of me? and Does dancing induce labor? and Can I break my own water?*** at two in the morning. Anything to find out how to bring on labor naturally.

The worst part? The WAITING. Dear GAWD, the waiting is unlike anything you've ever known. The never-ending cycle of waking up pregnant, and walking around pregnant, and going to bed pregnant, and then waking up again... STILL PREGNANT.

You might even start to think, "I'm a miracle of biology! The first woman in history who is pregnant forever!"

Call Guinness. 

Well, here's the deal. This baby is coming out of your body, I promise you. IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, one way or another. I like to tell my HypnoActive Birth students that I offer a 100% money back guarantee on the course if they are pregnant forever. Never once, in twelve years and over 4000 couples, have I had to pay out. 

Every culture has its traditional beliefs about how to "induce labor naturally" and you would be stunned by the weird shit we tell pregnant humans to eat, drink, and do. Or... what we tell pregnant humans to NOT eat, drink, or do. For instance: 

In Afghanistan, the father of the baby is supposed to stay far away from the pregnant mother towards the end of pregnancy, in order to prevent his "masculine energy" from confusing her body and disrupting the onset and progress of labor.

In Burma, expecting women are careful to eat their meals separate from the other members of the family, to avoid labor complications. 

Cambodian mothers believe they must wake up earlier than their husbands, finish their meals before he does, and rest as little as possible during the day to help labor begin and ensure an easy birth.

Iranian mothers take long daily walks to prepare for labor, and Peruvian mothers eat lentils and red meat frequently in the weeks before birth, to build their strength. 

In Thailand, women rely upon long bouts of prayer and meditation to bring on labor.

And in the US, women are told to drink concoctions of Castor Oil, eat spicy or irritating foods, take certain herbs and supplements, drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, and go on bumpy car rides, all promised as foolproof ways to induce labor.

It's all just culture and tradition. The truth is, humans aren't very good at making labor begin before the mother and baby are ready. As much as we might wish otherwise, there really are no foolproof ways to induce labor.

That doesn't mean we won't try. In fact, we will try almost anything to get things going, even if it's weird, gross-tasting, or uncomfortable. We’ll take any suggestions on how to bring on labor naturally, even if it came from our cousin’s best friend’s mailman. And then after an entire day of curb-walking, pineapple-eating, and nipple-stimulating, we are still very, very pregnant. I've been that mom, four times. 

Now that I've dashed all of your labor-stimulation hopes, I have some good news:

There ARE some things you can do, which have been proven to help labor begin, but ONLY when your body and baby are ready. If your body and baby aren't ready, there is very little you can do to cheat the system, and why would you want to? Every day your baby gets on the inside is beneficial to their brains and bodies. 

But if you and your baby are close to fully cooked, or if you’re past your due date and you or your doctor is getting a little antsy, you might want to give nature a boost. 

So are you ready for the Top Three Labor Stimulators? 

3. Vaginal Intercourse

That's right folks, the thing that got the baby in there can help the baby get out of there. It's the cervix-softening prostaglandins in your partner's semen which have labor-stimulating super powers. Let that semen soak into your cervix overnight and it will slightly soften the cervical cartilage bit by bit, each time you do it.

Orgasms (yours) cause lovely, rhythmic uterine tightenings which occasionally turn into contractions. And all that lovely oxytocin in your system might begin the hormonal cascade which culminates in childbirth. 

Now let's be clear: sex won't MAKE labor begin, or it would be extremely dangerous to have sex during pregnancy. What sex can do is slowly soften and ripen your cervix, and tone your birth muscles, to help labor begin when it's supposed to. A good roll in the hay can tip you over the edge if you're already close to that edge. 

2. Nipple Stimulation

This one works even better than sex, and even better-er DURING sex. Two birds with one stone, you know? Nipples are like Contraction Buttons. I'm actually a bit nervous to tell you about the Nipple-Uterus connection because I'm afraid you'll spend all day, um, exploring it. Use with caution, because nipple stimulation can cause really long, really strong uterine tightenings.

If you are realllllllly interested, I can create a blog post with my safe Nipple Stimulation Induction Protocol, which can be a last-resort before submitting to a medical induction. (Contact me if you want the protocol!)

Yes, folks, nipple stimulation really may trigger labor, but don't get too excited: it's only effective if you're already close to going into labor on your own. Are you seeing a pattern here? If you are meant to go into labor at 41 weeks, there is pretty much nothing you can do to make yourself go into labor at 39 or even 40 weeks. You might be able to shave a few days off your pregnancy, but that's it. 

1. Not trying to go into labor

Have you ever tried really, really hard to fall asleep at night? How did that work out for you? What happens when you try too hard to orgasm, or sneeze, or fall in love, or get up on a surfboard, or write a book? 

You see where I'm going. The truth is: the harder you try to MAKE yourself go into labor, the more you delay it. It's called the Law of Reverse Effort. The harder you try, the less you succeed. 

So here is my number one, foolproof, 100% guaranteed method for getting labor to start. STOP TRYING TO GET LABOR TO START. Take a bath. Take a nap. Listen to a hypnobirthing track. Have some sex, have some orgasms, maybe throw in a little nipple stimulation. It can't hurt. It might help.

But after all the sexy times, practice some deep relaxation and breathing techniques, let go of your worries, get lots of sleep and lots of healthy food. Stay hydrated. Get a massage, a pedicure, a hot fudge sundae. Self care, self care, self care. 100% of the women who try this method WILL HAVE A BABY.

(Ok. I admit. My foolproof method works because 100% of babies come out, regardless of what you do or DON'T do.)

When you give up trying to fall asleep, you will finally fall asleep. When you quit trying to make your orgasm happen, it will happen faster. When you're not looking for love, you find it. Writers can only write when they aren't trying to write. And when you give up trying to make your baby come out, your baby will come out at the right time. 

I promise, mama. 

Now, for the stuff that doesn't work

First things first: the risky stuff.

Most “natural induction” tips are harmless, but a few can actually be dangerous for you or your baby. Probably the most common tip that could actually be dangerous is… Castor Oil. Most of the time, trying Castor Oil doesn’t have any serious negative effects. As a laxative though, Castor Oil can cause dehydration, diarrhea, and non-labor related cramps.

If you are looking into trying other herbs or methods, MAKE SURE you research any risks first! “Natural” doesn’t always mean “harmless.” If you aren’t sure, talk to your doctor.

Annnnd on to the harmless stuff.

Here are the top five commonly recommended labor induction methods that DON'T have any scientific backing, no matter what your aunt or sister or old college roommate says.

(A cousin of mine went into labor a day or two after she ate an entire bag of Hot Cheetos*** and she tells everyone, loudly, at family gatherings that those Hot Cheetos saved her from a cesarean. But in reality, she would have gone into labor on her own anyway, and all that bag of Cheetos did was give her an aggressively spicy trip to the toilet.)

There is zero evidence that the following "natural induction methods" actually, you know, induce labor naturally. 

They're about as effective for starting labor as flossing your teeth. 

5. Eating spicy food

4. Eating pineapple

3. Curb Walking / Salsa Dancing / Bumpy car rides

2. Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

1. Trying really, really hard to go into labor

***hell no. Don't even think about it. 

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