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Home Remedies for Inducing Labor

So, you’re close to the end and ready for your baby to be born? Nearing the 40th week and getting tired of your back hurting, your clothes getting tighter, and you getting less and less sleep? There are still many unknowns when it come to naturally inducing labor; not every woman responds the same to natural induction. However, if you are getting close to your due date and you don’t feel like you are getting close to going into labor, these suggestions are definitely worth a try, and completely safe! However, depending on the position your baby is in, initiating labor can be more difficult. If your baby’s back is facing towards your back, this typically is harder to initiate labor and more painful. This position is known as “back labor” and a lot of the pressure is focused on your back and bowel. Remembering to practice being on all fours (knees and hands on the floor) will encourage your baby to get in the right, most comfortable position: baby’s back facing your belly. If your baby is already in this position and you are in your last week of pregnancy, try the following tips to help encourage labor.


  • Exercise. Try walking up a hill or climbing stairs. Walking will make your labor easier because it keeps your muscles prepped and in shape to get you through the pushes and cramps of labor, but walking up hill also puts pressure on the neck of your uterus. When pressure is placed on your uterus it will begin to thin out. Your thinning cervix will then help to dilate and start helpful, progressive contractions.


  • Pineapple and Other Fruit. Tropical fruits, think kiwis, mango, pineapple and papaya, contain an enzyme that helps cause mild contractions and help ripen the cervix. Pineapple especially will help you stay regular, which is very helpful because constipation can definitely keep you from going into labor.


  • Raspberry Leaf Tea. Many women who have been pregnant before know the magic of Raspberry Leaf Tea! Although it doesn’t necessarily start labor in the late stages of pregnancy, when consumed 2-3 times a day, starting at week 36, it helps to tone the uterus. The uterus is a muscle that needs to contract during labor, by prepping your uterus ahead of time, your body will be ready for labor and can make contractions less painful. This can also be taken after pregnancy to help your uterus contract to its pre-pregnancy size faster and with less pain.


  • Sex. The hormone released during intercourse, oxytocin, helps the body relax and ease contractions. Oxytocin is the hormone that actually makes the uterus contract. This hormone released right before labor can help ease labor along. Additionally, achieving orgasm while pregnant can also mimic the contractions felt during labor. If your body is ready, sometimes getting the contractions started will push you right into active labor! Lastly, semen contains prostaglandins, a hormone that, when in contact with the uterus, can help to ripen the cervix and trigger labor. Pitocin is also a prostaglandin and used in hospitals to induce labor, however it is synthetic and can produce much more painful contractions than natural labor.


  • Nipple Stimulation. Much like intercourse, nipple stimulation can release oxytocin, which will start to contract the uterus, however the contractions are more gentle than intercourse. The easiest way is to use your breast pump to simulate breastfeeding, thi works very well in getting your uterus to start contracting. You can also gently stroke or pinch the nipple once an hour around 10-15 minutes each time to really get labor going, especially if your water has already broken and you do not have any contractions, or if you are 40 weeks or more along.


What to Avoid:

  • Castor Oil. This has been an ill-advised way to induce labor for generations. Castor oil is bound to get your bowels moving and the cramps that are associated with taking castor oil can mimic the pains of labor. Sometimes this can get your labor going, but only if you are ready (meaning within a few hours). If you are not ready you will end up with uncontrolled loose stools and terrible cramps. Eventually it will subside and you will be no closer to labor than you were before you tried it.


  • Laying on your Back. This is the opposite of being on all fours and will actually encourage your baby to be in a more uncomfortable position while you labor. Again, this is the uncomfortable “back labor” every woman talks about. As you get closer to your due date, try to stay off your back as much as possible, stay active, and try to remain in an upright position as much as you can.


  • Constipation. Having a full bowel, or having infrequent bowel movements, indicates that your body is not ready. Usually before you are ready to go into labor, your body “cleans itself out”, meaning you will probably experience softer than normal stool and go several times a day. Your body is relaxing and prepping for labor, emptying your bladder, stomach, and bowels helps with a more comfortable labor as well.

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