How to Induce Labor Naturally
Ready to get this birth started and wondering how to induce labor naturally? Learn about natural ways to induce labor and which home remedies really work when it comes to speeding things up!
When I was at the end of my third trimester, both of my boys had no interest in coming out, so around the 38 week mark I will fully admit I began Googling “how to start labor contractions yourself!” After 2 babies who both went late, I tried everything to start labor naturally and am happy to share with you some of the best tips I found to induce labor yourself.
Truth: both of my boys were born after 40 weeks. So trust me when I say that by that point I was ready to go into labor immediately!
Before we dive in, I want to be sure to tell you that I am not a medical professional. I’m just a mom who is sharing information. Please be sure to always check with your medical team before trying any of these ways to induce labor yourself. You can read my full disclosure here, but in a nutshell again: I am NOT a birth expert, just a mom who is sharing the things that worked for me.
I don’t recommend trying to induce labor yourself until you are at least 39 weeks. Why 39 weeks? A full-term baby is said to be anywhere from 37-42 weeks. There is now more information coming out that babies born between 37-38 weeks of pregnancy (whether born on their own or induced) face higher risks of health problems.
I know it’s hard once you start getting closer to the end of your pregnancy, but wait. You want that sweet baby to have as long as possible to cook inside of you!
According to a study, more than half of pregnant people turn to non-pharmacological (aka natural) approaches to hasten labor as they approach or go past their due dates, so you’re far from alone in trying to find a natural way to induce labor!
A due date is at best an educated guess. Both of my boys were born after 40 weeks! Remember that this list of ways to start labor contractions naturally are all things that have worked for other women, but not all of these things work for every woman. Nothing works every time, as all of our bodies and babies are different.
Be sure to read until the end, and I’ll share with you what got my labor going with both of my births!
Note: Some links may be affiliate links. That means I may make a commission if you use my links to purchase, at no extra added cost to you! I only recommend products that I personally love and believe in. Additionally, I am not a medical professional and this post is not meant to be medical advice. This article is for informational purposes. Full disclaimer here.
Natural Ways to Start Labor Contractions
Below are a list of natural ways to induce labor. Before you try any of these, make sure you talk to your doctor or midwife! Everyone’s bodies and births are different, and your birth team is the BEST place to start with suggestions and support for jump starting your labor.
Wondering how to induce labor naturally?? Read on for some of the best tips out there for jump starting your own labor!
Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
What are the benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea?
- Promotes faster and healthier labor.
- Strengthens and tones the uterus.
- Promotes quicker postpartum recovery.
- Might stimulate contractions.
- Rich in antioxidants and nutrients that are good for pregnant women.
I used Red Raspberry Leaf Tea in both of my pregnancies. I drank 2 cups per day in the second trimester and 3 cups per day in the third trimester.
If you’re at the end of your pregnancy and haven’t started drinking it already, start with 1 cup to try to stimulate contractions.
For me and many other mamas, red raspberry leaf tea was a big part of our labors, and many women swear it’s the reason theirs were so short!
You can get red raspberry leaf tea in bulk here on Amazon. If you like the ease of bags- these are the red raspberry leaf tea bags I used and loved.
I know, it sounds weird. But seriously, stimulating your nipples can cause your body to respond by releasing oxytocin, which can get labor going.
The video below explains how to stimulate your nipples to induce labor using your breast pump!
Eat Spicy Foods
Eating spicy foods can irritate your intestines, which may cause cramping and lead to contractions.
Towards the end of my pregnancy I was pouring hot sauce on EVERYTHING.
Try Pineapple, Eggplant and Dates!
There’s a whole mess of foods that women swear by to start your labor naturally, with pineapples, dates and eggplant seeming to be the top 3!
When it comes to pineapple, it’s the core that is the part that people swear by. However, experts say that it would actually have to be more like SEVEN whole pineapples to get the effects needed to induce labor.
Dates are also known to be beneficial to labor. In a study done in 2011, they found that eating 6 dates a day in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy led to a shorter first stage of labor, greater cervical dilation and a lesser chance of needing a c-section compared to those that didn’t eat dates.
You can also try this labor-inducing eggplant parmesan recipe at home, too. This is the same one I personally have eaten during all of my pregnancies!
Can’t hurt to try, right?
Already thinking about your childbirth plan? Be sure to also read How to Reduce Labor Pain During Natural Childbirth.
Exercises To Induce Labor
Have you ever heard someone mention walking the baby out? Exercise is known as a great tool to help kickstart labor. Squats, lunges and walking all help when it comes to inducing labor naturally!
I went into labor with my first at 40+6 after taking a bunch of long walks in the days leading up to it and doing some super deep sumo squats.
So, go get active! But not too active: you don’t want to be worn out going into labor!
Using a Birthing Ball
Birthing balls can also be a great way to coax your baby out. I loved my birthing ball during pregnancy to help alleviate pain and discomfort, and was grateful to have it during labor as well.
A birthing ball can help encourage the opening of your pelvic muscles to make room for baby.
This birthing ball has over 35,000 positive reviews on Amazon and is under $30!
I also recommend investing a birthing ball or yoga ball to have your own during labor. This is me, laboring on a yoga ball with my first childbirth!
I know: this sounded terrible to me too when I was THAT pregnant! Haha But, having sex has been shown to help induce labor naturally!
The prostaglandins in semen help to ripen the cervix and get it ready for labor. Did you know they actually use synthetic prostaglandins to induce labor?
You need to make sure your partner ejaculates inside of the vagina for this to have any effect. Remember- it’s the semen contains the prostaglandins which can bring on labor.
Can Prenatal Massage Induce Labor?
Nearly every pregnant woman I know has told me how much their bodies ACHE, especially towards the end of their pregnancies. Massage therapy during pregnancy has been shown to provide many benefits!Prenatal massage is a specialized certification, and massage therapists who practice it receive advanced education in safe techniques for pregnant women. Unlike deep tissue massage, prenatal massage typically involves light pressure.
The American Pregnancy Association reports that the benefits of massage performed during pregnancy can help to reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pain, help with blood flow and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Plus the relaxation you’ll feel after a prenatal massage might help you have better sleep, too! But what about when it comes to inducing labor?
Using Acupressure to Induce Labor
Technically, no such thing as an official “induction massage.” However, from the standpoint of acupressure, “trained prenatal or pregnancy massage therapists are aware of pressure points on the ankles and wrists that can gently stimulate pelvic muscles, including the uterus.“
While prenatal massage therapists and acupressure practitioners are taught to avoid those pressure points before the end of a pregnancy (to avoid the risk of premature labor), it is widely believed that targeting those same pressure points after 38 weeks could be just the nudge a woman needs to get labor contractions going.
Pressure points go hand in hand with acupressure. Acupressure has been used as a technique to induce labor for a very long time, and focuses a lot on pressure points you can hit with a foot massage or on the inner ankle bone. It can be challenging to figure out exactly how to hit the right points. My husband and I discovered that there are a bunch of videos to help you figure this out!
Check out this video that shows you how to find a few acupressure points to induce labor:
Is Prenatal Massage Safe?
Prenatal massage is a specialized certification, and massage therapists who practice it receive advanced education in safe techniques for pregnant women. With all of the benefits of prenatal massage, women can begin massage therapy at any point in their pregnancy and are generally considered safe after the first trimester of pregnancy, as long as you get the green light from your healthcare provider. Be sure to double check that your massage therapist knows you’re pregnant, too, and that they know any health conditions you might have.
Regular massage can be a wonderful tool to help your body during those final weeks, whether you see a massage therapist or just have your partner help. Also be sure that whoever you see is a licensed massage therapist who is specially trained and certificated in prenatal massage.
A certified massage therapist with this special extra certification will know how to best help you find relief while also avoiding things that could cause undue stress (like certain essential oils that aren’t recommended so close to birth).
Postnatal massage is also a wonderful option after giving birth.
Castor Oil, AKA The Midwives Brew
The Midwives Brew was something I heard about a lot while pregnant. Supposedly, this concoction could help kickstart labor for women who nothing else worked for, and is known as a major labor inducer.
So what is the Midwives Brew? The Midwives Brew is a combination of castor oil and other ingredients that is designed to upset your stomach to help start labor naturally.
Before I mention this, it’s important to say that you need to proceed with caution when reaching for castor oil when trying to induce labor naturally. This step should ONLY be taken in partnership and with approval from your medical provider.
There have been studies that say ingesting any of those may actually do harm rather than good. Be sure to first talk to your doctor or midwife before trying these natural options to induce labor.
The Midwives Brew Recipe
If you get the green light from your medical team and want to try the famed Midwives Brew yourself, first know that it is designed to upset your stomach (and stimulate your intestines).
Do NOT ingest castor oil by itself, as you could become incredibly sick which could hurt both baby and you.
2 oz castor oil
4 tablespoons almond butter
Small can of apricot nectar
1 cup of champagne
Mix together using a blender. Drink quickly! Don’t drink more than one dose per day.
Remember, the Midwives Brew is STRONG and should ONLY be taken after you talk to your medical team and they tell you it is ok to do.
Natural Ways for your Doctor to Induce Labor
There are a few things you can request from your doctor to help induce labor naturally!
Membrane stripping (also known as a membrane sweep) is a procedure done to help induce labor. It’s performed by your practitioner if you’re full term and your cervix is already somewhat dilated.
Your practitioner inserts a finger through your cervix and manually separates your amniotic sac from the uterine lining. Many women find the procedure uncomfortable or even a little painful, but it only lasts a few minutes. I personally found it super uncomfortable, but not painful.
With my second baby I had 2 membrane sweeps and my son was still born 13 days late. However, I have friends who nearly immediately went into labor after their first sweep!
Learn more about membrane sweeping here.
Foley Bulb Induction
A Foley bulb induction (also known as a Foley bulb catheter) is a procedure where your practitioner inserts a catheter with a balloon into your cervix. Once inside your womb, the balloon is inflated with saline solution.
This puts pressure on your cervix and encourages dilation. The catheter falls out once your cervix dilates to 3 centimeters. In many cases, this method successfully stimulates labor without medication!
I had a foley bulb induction when I was 41 weeks and 5 days pregnant with my second son. I was so nervous that it was going to hurt, but other than being a little uncomfortable it wasn’t too bad!
Learn more about how a Foley Bulb Induction can help start labor contractions and get your cervix to dilate from Healthline here.
Final Thoughts on Ways to Induce Labor at Home
So, some of the ways to induce labor at home naturally that we’ve talked about are:
- Eat Spicy Food
- Have Sex
- Acupressure/Prenatal Massage
- Use a Birthing Ball
- Eating pineapple and dates
Keep in mind that there’s limited research when it comes to natural induction methods. While there *is* anecdotal evidence that many of the items on this list truly can help induce labor naturally, the scientific research hasn’t quite caught up yet.
All of these are ways to help start labor naturally, BUT remember that your body will not go into labor unless it is ready. As much as I want to tell you that one or all of these things can 100% cause you to go into labor… I can’t.
With my first baby what started my labor was a bunch of long walks and deep sumo squats. With my second it didn’t matter how much I exercised; we even moved to a new house the day before he was born, and he had zero interest in coming out!
With my second baby I ended up having a Foley bulb induction and also trying the Midwife’s Brew before my body started labor.
Every person is different, as is every baby and every labor! The most important thing is that you have a healthy baby and healthy pregnancy.
I know that’s the last thing you want to hear when you’re Googling “how to start labor myself.” But I promise you, you won’t be pregnant for ever! That sweet baby WILL come out.
If you induced labor with natural techniques, what worked for you? Let me know in the comments ❤
After 5 unmedicated births I have done alllllll these things!!! Lol
The best and most effective was the midwive’s brew!!! I had to gag down 2 rounds of it but once labor started it was barely 2 hours with baby #5!
That’s amazing! I think the Midwives brew really helped me too this time. It’s amazing what our bodies can do!