Once you’ve hit 40 weeks, the pregnancy glow is replaced by what I call the “sweating-profusely glow”. You are uncomfortable sitting, standing and even lying down. And, the swelling! Don’t even get me started on the swelling.
You have lost sight of your toes. You have to pee. Constantly. EVERYTHING HURTS. Constantly. You are so tired.
To top it all off, you have people coming up to you and literally TOUCHING YOU as if they impregnated you. The nerve.
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Fear not! There are some pretty effective ways to induce labor naturally at home without subjecting yourself to eating questionable foods or running a marathon.
Make sure you’ve got your hospital bag packed with all the essentials!
No more womb-service little one, mama needs her bladder back.
What You Need to Do:
The best way to ensure that you have a smooth delivery is to prepare your body for labor as soon as you get pregnant.
Practicing mindfulness, nourishing your body and exercising (especially doing prenatal yoga) will help you get into tiptop shape for the big day.
However, there are steps you can take to get things moving so that you’re not feeling anxious and uncomfortable for longer than you need to.
Although moms, including myself, swear by these methods for inducing labor, they might not work for you. Always consult with your doctor on the best ways to induce labor naturally before getting started.
The ONE trick that made me go into labor and have Leo in less than two hours was drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea. I SWEAR BY THIS STUFF!
I truly believe this magical tea sent me into labor and made my labor very short and easy (well, as easy as can be given that I was pushing a human out of my body).
Leo was in my arms two hours from when my first contraction started. It all happened very fast, people. My pain wasn’t even that bad. Read all about how I almost had Leo in a bathroom right here.
If you’re ready to go into labor, check out my step-by-step method of inducing labor using Raspberry Leaf tea.
If there is ONE thing you try from this list, let it be this tea. Even if it doesn’t induce labor for you, this tea will help you tone and strengthen your uterus which can help make labor easier, faster and more efficient. It’s even recommended by doctors and midwives. Seriously, give it a go!
9 Best Ways to Induce Labor Naturally!
1. Drink Raspberry Leaf Tea – It’s legit!
As I said above, Raspberry Leaf Tea is excellent for strengthening your uterus. This tea is the real deal and if you talk to any midwife or doula, they will tell you the importance of this tea for preparing your body for labor.
This study shows that RLT helps make labor shorter and women who drank this tea need fewer medical interventions, including c-sections. The anecdotal evidence is also overwhelming. It’s sort of a best-kept mom secret. I cannot recommend this tea enough. I drink the Traditional Medicinals Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea. It doesn’t even taste bad! Yay!
2. Get moving, mama!
In my third trimester, Leo was sitting so low on my pelvis and I could barely walk. Every step I took was agony.
Somehow, I still managed to stay active toward the end of my pregnancy. I took daily walks in the mall since it was the dead of winter and moved around as much as I could at home.
You don’t have to push yourself too hard or even exercise for very long. The objective is to keep moving comfortably so that you are widening your cervix and loosening the joints in your pelvis.
Light exercise will actually make labor easier so staying active, especially in the last trimester is super important. Throw on some cute yoga pants (these ones are life-changing, btw) and try the following exercises.
Walking: Taking a brisk walk for 20-30 minutes at a time is a great start if you’re not one of those moms on Instagram that have abs even though they are 9 months pregnant. Seriously, what is their secret??? I look more pregnant than them after eating a burrito! If you are one of those moms, then please teach me your ways.
Anyhow, back to walking. Wear comfy shoes, put on your headphones and imagine how cute you and your baby will look taking strolls around the neighborhood. Adorable!
Exercise ball: If you don’t have an exercise ball, you need to get one immediately. Exercise balls are life. You can literally just sit on it and bounce away while binging on ice cream and Netflix.
If you want to do more than just bounce on the exercise ball, there are several exercises you can do on the ball to help induce labor naturally.
You can even use the ball while laboring for extra relief.
Important (possibly life-saving) Protip: Exercise balls are a miracle sent from the heavens during those early, sleep deprived days when you have no idea why your baby is crying instead of sleeping. Bounce on the ball with your baby and he or she will be sleeping in no time, which means that you will also be sleeping…eventually.
Exercise Some More!
Actual footage of me exercising while pregnant.
Squatting: For obvious reasons, squatting is one of the best ways to bring on labor. Try doing some gentle squats which will help push your baby down and may even help break your water. You can lean against a wall for your squats if you feel too much pressure.
Butterfly stretch: Simply sit on the floor, place your feet together (don’t cross your legs) and press your knees to the floor to feel the stretch inside your thighs and pelvis. You can lean against a wall for extra support. Try to hold the position for 10-15 seconds and repeat a few times. These stretches are a great way to open up the pelvic region and loosen the pelvic joints.
Lunges: You might need your partner for this one. Lunging is a great way to induce labor naturally as the motion will help move your baby into the birth canal. Use support if you need to and try to go into a deep-lunge to expand your hips.
Kegals: Listen, I’m no fan of doing Kegals but they sort of become an essential part of postpartum life to prevent *ahem* accidents. Kegals can be an effective way to induce labor naturally while also making laboring easier as Kegals strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Do them, whenever, wherever!
Pelvic rocks: Another great way to get labor started. Simply lie on the floor, bend your knees and tilt your pelvis up, hold for 10 seconds and slowly release. Repeat for as long as you can. This exercise is perfect for opening up your pelvic joints and preparing your body for labor. Try it out!
Stairs: Not in the mood for exercising? Using the stairs is a simple way to get your pelvic joints moving while lowering your baby into the birth canal.
3. Use Oils
Oils can be very effective for inducing labor naturally, especially castor oil.
Castor oil is essentially a laxative that causes contractions in the bowels which can cause uterine contractions as well. However, and this is important, you have to follow a very specific method of ingesting castor oil if you want to induce labor naturally without getting sick.
Castor oil is nasty. Plain and simple. Lots of women get super desperate to bring on labor and just down a bottle of castor oil.
Why, girl, why???
Just thinking about that is making me dry heave. Definitely, DO NOT do that because you will get very sick. If you do decide to go the castor oil route, this is what you need to do.
How to Induce Labor Naturally with Castor Oil:
- Rest up and drink plenty of water the night before because the next day might be a busy day in the bathroom.
- Take small doses of castor oil throughout the day. Ideally one tablespoon, every 4-6 hours.
- Mix the castor oil with orange juice and give it a good shake or stir so you’re not straight up puking while trying to drink it.
- Drink it in one go while pinching your nose. Like. A. Boss.
- Drink lots of water, coconut water or electrolytes to stay well hydrated.
- Make sure your snack game is on point.
- Stay close to a bathroom and repeat!
You might feel the urge to go to the bathroom immediately after your first dose of castor oil or it could take a few small doses to get things moving.
The trick is not to overdo it because you don’t want to get horrible diarrhea and end up severely dehydrated. The safest way is to approach this method with caution and ensure that you are spacing out each dose.
Other Great Oils:
Evening Primrose Oil: This oil can help induce labor by thinning out the cervix while also speeding up labor. You can take the pills orally or insert vaginally, or maybe try both! Some women swear by this oil so it might be worth a shot.
Clary Sage Oil: Sage oil can help you relax which is great when you’re overdue and very stressed. This oil can cause contractions and bring on labor, although the evidence is mostly anecdotal. Either way, if you feel like relaxing and want a massage, then I would suggest using this oil and demanding a pregnancy massage from your loved ones (not annoying at all). Mix one or two drops of clary sage oil with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil and rub on your tummy and different pressure points to feel very ~chills~. Enjoy those massages because it may be your last for a very long time!
4. Try Acupressure
Acupressure is basically therapy that stimulates different pressure points in your body to relieve pain and stress. This therapy can also help induce labor by stimulating the release of endorphins. You can try acupressure at home or with a professional therapist (recommended) as there are specific points in your body you need to work on for the acupressure to work effectively.
Chiropractors and reflexologists are also lifesavers when trying to induce labor naturally as they can also stimulate the right pressure points in your body to jumpstart labor.
Acupuncture is also recommended for women trying to induce labor naturally as it can release oxytocin in the body.
I would pick one of these methods, instead of doing too much of everything. Worst case, you’re getting a foot massage out of it. There is nothing wrong with showing your tired, swollen, pregnancy feet some much-needed love.
Okay, you might not be dying to have sex when you’re days away from giving birth but there are worse ways to go about it instead of a little sexy time. If you’re in the mood, sex just might do the trick.
Sex increases activity in your uterus and semen has a substance called prostaglandins which can help thin out the cervix (this substance is also found in evening primrose oil). Since sex usually feels good, your body can release oxytocin, the feel-good hormone which can cause contractions as well.
If you or your partner are having trouble getting yourselves in the ~mood~ due to an actual full-sized baby being inside your body, you can try positions that might make things a little less awkward such as spooning with your partner behind you or lying on the foot of the bed with your standing in front of you. If you’re still not feeling it, foreplay can be just as good!
6. Nipple Stimulation
Speaking of foreplay, nipple stimulation is a great way to induce labor naturally. Nipple stimulation can also release oxytocin and if you have enough feel-good hormones floating around your body, you might be able to go into labor.
Oxytocin is a very important hormone because it not only induces labor but will also help you bond with your baby and help shrink your uterus back to its regular size after giving birth. In fact, Pitocin, the drug that is used by doctors to induce labor, is actually a synthetic form of oxytocin.
How to Stimulate Nipples to Induce Labor Naturally
- Choose what method you will use. You can use your hands, your partner or a breast pump.
- Massage your areola
- Don’t overdo it. Stick to one breast at a time, for five minutes. Take 15-minute breaks and stop when contractions are three minutes apart.
7. Membrane Stripping
Okay, this method always freaks me out but if you’re very desperate, you can ask your doctor what he or she thinks about stripping your membranes. Warning: this procedure will hurt.
I’m such a chicken when it comes to pain, even though I’ve given birth naturally so I would just probably skip this step altogether. You will have to be at least one centimeter dilated before your doctor can even perform this procedure.
Your doctor will basically use his or her finger to try and separate the amniotic sac from the cervix area by doing a sweep (this sounds so much worse than it probably is, or maybe not).
This method can be effective because it releases prostaglandins and we know how important that is. Lots of women experiencing cramping and bleeding afterward so proceed with caution!
7. Food, Glorious Food
The thing that I was most excited about during my pregnancy was my ability to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted without anybody questioning me. This pint of ice cream I just downed? It’s for the baby? French fries? Baby needs it. Do I really need a chocolate milkshake? Yup, the baby asked for it. I called it “womb-service”.
There are a lot of different foods you can try to induce labor naturally and most of them are pretty delicious! Let’s go through some of them!
Pineapple: A classic for labor-inducing women worldwide. Why is everyone obsessed with pineapples, anyways? Well, there’s actually a pretty scientific reason. Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain which can make your cervix softer and help induce labor.
You have to eat fresh pineapple and lots of it. You can also juice fresh pineapple, including the core because that is where most of those enzymes are. The evidence is purely anecdotal with pineapples and eating too much might just make your mouth raw. I would probably eat a few pieces of pineapple a day, instead of just eating an entire pineapple a day. It’s a bit much, don’t you think?
Labor Cookies: Okay, now onto the fun foods. Try baking labor cookies! Not only will this help pass the time but it might actually help get things moving due to all the spicy goodness. Here is a recipe that actually sounds very delicious. I am definitely trying these if I end up having another!
Labor Cake: Why stop at just cookies? Why not go all out and bake a cake? Okay, eating chocolate cake might not actually induce labor but it might release oxytocin because…you’re literally eating chocolate cake. Another great way to pass the time and you can share the love with your partner, neighbor, and friends! You will be hailed as a pregnant, chocolate-cake hero! Here is the recipe
Eggplant Parmesan: Honestly, I’m down to go to this restaurant for their famous labor-inducing eggplant parmesan, even though I’m not pregnant. I’m guessing it’s the spices which can cause contractions but the recipe sounds delish! Maybe I’ll make it tonight for dinner…you know, for science (*shifty eyes*).
Labor Salad: Just like the eggplant parm, there is a famous restaurant in LA that dishes out labor-inducing salads. Apparently, the secret ingredient is the balsamic dressing. MMMM…tangy, sticky, balsamic.
Spicy Food: All types of spicy food are fair game. Chinese food, Thai good, jalapeno poppers seem to be a fan favorite. Really, anything that tastes delicious and has a kick! Spicy food might stimulate your stomach enough to start contractions but just don’t overdo it. If anyone asks why you’re getting takeout again, just tell them you’re trying to induce labor, obviously!
Starbucks Pineapple Kona Pop Tea: We know that teas can be a powerful aid for inducing labor and Starbucks has a pineapple tea that many women swear by. It sounds refreshing and gives you a good reason to get out of the house. Why not also pick up a cake pop or two while you’re there? Cake pops won’t help you induce labor but they will make you feel lovely.
8. Plan The Best Day Ever For Yourself
Since your baby is still conveniently located inside your tummy, you might as well try and enjoy yourself a bit before the sleep deprivation begins. Try to distract yourself and stay busy so you’re not obsessing over how uncomfortable you are.
Wake up in the morning, take a nice walk or head to the mall for some retail therapy (what mom doesn’t need more adorable baby clothes?). Enjoy a delicious, spicy lunch at your favorite restaurant and then grab a Starbucks Pineapple Tea to wash it down.
Then, head to the nail salon for a pedicure and ask for an extra-long foot massage before making your way home and enjoying a little sexy time. Finally, eat some more yummy spicy food for dinner and take a long, sip some raspberry leaf tea while taking a relaxing bath so you can sleep well and have sweet dreams about meeting your new baby.
The last few days of pregnancy can be very uncomfortable and stressful for many reasons. Your back hurts. Your pelvis feels like it’s breaking everytime you walk. You are tired and sore. That is why it’s so important to relax and let your body do its thing.
Being in a relaxed state before going into labor will help you bond with your baby, boost milk supply and just help with your overall postpartum healing.
Try practicing mindfulness or doing yoga. Take a walk, read a few books, or have a cup of tea just to settle your nerves.
Talk about your feelings with your partner and friends.
Try to enjoy the last few days of feeling your baby cocooned safely in your tummy because once your baby arrives, he or she will rock your world in more ways than you could have ever imagined.
There you have it. Some legit ways to induce labor naturally! Have you tried any of these methods and more importantly, did it work?
I would LOVE to know if have used a specific trick to induce labor. What worked for you? What didn’t?
Did you eat a lot of pineapples??? I need to know. Tell me below!