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.
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!
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. Full disclaimer here.
Natural Ways to Start Labor Contractions
Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
What are the benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea?
Strengthens and tones the uterus.
- Promotes faster and healthier labor.
- 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!
If you like the ease of bags- these are the red raspberry leaf tea bags I used and loved.
I know, it sounds weird. Isn’t nipple stimulation what you go you here in the first place?? (Kidding!) 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.
Try Pineapple 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.
I chose to eat pineapple almost every day for the last 3 weeks of my pregnancies.
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.
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!
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!
The video below is an actual 10 minute labor inducing work out which might be more helpful if you’d like some direction!
Use 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.
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!
Using Acupressure to Induce Labor
Acupressure has been used as a technique to induce labor for a very long time. 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:
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.
Castor Oil, AKA The Midwives Brew
The Midwives Brew was something I hear about a lot while pregnant. Supposedly, this concoction could help kickstart labor for women who nothing else worked for!
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 evening primrose oil, blue cohosh or castor oil when trying to induce labor naturally.
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.
If you get the green light and want to try the famed Midwives Brew yourself, first know that it is designed to upset your stomach (and stimulate your intestines). Also, do NOT ingest castor oil by itself, as you could become incredibly sick.
The Midwives Brew Recipe
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 with the go ahead from your care team!
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!
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!
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
- Use a Birthing Ball
- Eating pineapple and dates
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!
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 ❤