When you’re eagerly awaiting your due date, you might be inclined to do what you can to kick start your baby’s departure from the home you’ve graciously provided for the past nine months or so. (This is especially true for overdue moms!) While you can’t pull the initial trigger to prompt spontaneous labor to begin, you can get ahead of things by readying and ripening your cervix and then working with your body to bring on those crucial contractions. In addition to the old standbys like long walks and sexual intercourse, give these a whirl and see where they take you … hopefully to the delivery room—fingers crossed!
You’ve probably come across eggplant and spicy food when searching for natural methods to start labor, but what about this tropical treat? For best results, it’s important your fruit is fresh and raw—so put the canned variety back in the pantry and head to the grocery store to pluck one from the produce aisle. Pineapple doesn’t actually initiate contractions, but it does contain an enzyme called bromelain that is believed to help boost cervical ripening, which goes hand-in-hand with cervical dilation to bring baby into the world.
2. Raspberry Leaf Tea
This beverage is thought to increase blood flow to the uterus, which in turn strengthens the uterine muscle fibers needed to contract during labor. Stronger muscles equals more effective contractions and possibly, a shorter, stronger labor. Red raspberry leaf tea also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial to your overall health during pregnancy and postpartum.
3. Nipple Stimulation
As awkward as it sounds, this trick is one of the only scientifically proven natural encouragers of labor for pregnant women. Why? In response to the nipples being rubbed and rolled, your body releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps start contractions. If you’re up for giving the girls a go, the idea is to mimic the feeling of a newborn suckling. (We’ve heard some moms-to-be even break out the breast pump for this.) It’s important to be full-term before considering this option and have your healthcare provider give you the green light beforehand.
Many moms are big believers in getting a move on to encourage their tiny tenants to start packing. This could be anything from dancing to your favorite song, bouncing on a birthing ball (gravity is your friend, here) or hiking up and down flights of stairs. Just be careful not to wear yourself out too early on— you’ve still got to push the baby out.
This follows the same train of thought as the old wives’ tale about castor oil, but fortunately doesn’t come with the same dreadful laxative side effect of diarrhea. The thinking is that by flushing things out down below, you cause your bowels to contract, which could then cause uterine contractions. But, to us, it kind of sounds like a lot for a maybe (just sayin’). On the flip side, you’ll worry less about pooping during labor. Spoiler alert: It happens all the time and is totally normal.
The bottom line is there’s no for sure way to induce labor without the use of medical induction methods, such as pitocin (and even those sometimes don’t do the trick). While it’s downright painful by the end of pregnancy, try to not rush the remainder of your prenatal journey. You’ll be united with your long-awaited newbie soon enough, and the slow-ticking clock will be a thing of your past.
*A note on acupuncture and membrane stripping: While often considered natural, both of these methods are still considered attempted labor inductions, meaning starting labor where there isn’t one, making both medical procedures that should be monitored by your doctor.