Alright, Momma. Let’s talk about natural induction! Because if you’re here, I’m guessing you’re about done being pregnant by now, or your due date has recently come and gone.

Going past your due date, can mean home birth is off the table for some women (but not always!). This is mostly because if you wind up needing a medically necessary induction, your birth will likely need to take place in a hospital setting.

Yes, going past your due date does mean that careful monitoring of baby via non-stress tests becomes a good idea. However, you likely still have some time to get labor going naturally and have the home birth of your dreams.

Without further ado let’s hear ‘em! 9 ways to induce labor naturally for a home birth:

  1. Sex
  2. Nipple Stimulation
  3. Walking/Exercise
  4. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
  5. Evening Primrose Oil
  6. Castor Oil
  7. Dates
  8. Certain Foods
  9. Massage

So don’t fret! In fact, it’s totally normal to go past your due date, which is really just a guess that’s been proven to be off (on average) by at least 3-5 days anyways.

And in today’s world, unnecessary medical inductions the minute a woman goes past 40 weeks are becoming more and more common.

As long as baby isn’t showing any signs of distress (when medically monitored), and your midwife thinks it’s medically safe to go beyond 40 weeks, give some of the following ideas a try.

9 Ways to Induce Labor Naturally for a Home Birth

1. Sex

Having sex is a free, accessible, and easy way to try to induce labor naturally. There are a number of reasons why this is a power house way to try to get labor started:

  • Having an orgasm releases oxytocin in your body which is the hormone responsible for contractions and the production of prostaglandins which also helps to get and keep contractions going.
  • Your partner’s sperm contains prostaglandins, a hormone that helps with the onset and momentum of contractions. It also helps thin and ripen the cervix.
  • Movement! Having sex gets your body moving and your pelvis rocking. This movement may be enough to trigger the start of contractions if you are naturally close to spontaneous labor.

2. Nipple Stimulation

Like trying sex to induce labor, this easy and natural induction attempt aims to produce oxytocin in your body by mimicking breastfeeding to get contractions going.

To try this method of natural induction, you want to stimulate the whole breast, not just the nipple. This can be done through massage or with an electric breast pump. Recommendations are to stimulate the breasts for 15-60 minutes a few times a day.

If you find yourself in labor without progress, or where things are stalled, using your breast pump can be a good way to try to get things going again.

3. Walking and Exercise

One thing you are bound to hear as your due date approaches (or has come and gone) is to get moving. This helps your baby to get into the ideal position for birth and allows your pelvis to open.

Many women find walking to be a great way to stay fit and keep themselves moving throughout their pregnancy, so why not keep at it if you’re trying to induce labor. It certainly can’t hurt!

Other ideas include prenatal yoga, light exercise, bouncing on a birthing ball or swimming. Fun fact: my first contractions with my daughter started while I was swimming at a local lake on a hot September day!

4. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

This tea has been linked to women’s health for centuries for its various benefits and is known as a uterine tonic because it stimulates the pelvic floor muscles. Just make you are getting the real deal Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and not a blend or something containing raspberry flavoring.

There is a movement towards incorporating red raspberry leaf tea into your daily routine in the 2nd and 3rd trimester because it has been linked in research to:

  • Faster Labor
  • Reduced complications in labor
  • Less likely to require C-section
  • Generally, for strengthening the uterus and preventing early term labor

But, you’re here because you’re looking for natural ways to induce labor! And red raspberry tea just may be the ticket.

This recipe for “Labor Day Raspberry Leaf Tea” recommends brewing 1.5 cups of red raspberry leaf tea (or 24 tea bags!) with 4 cups of water and sipping throughout the day. Add a natural sweetener if desired. Cheers!

5. Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is often cited as a natural labor inducing tactic because it contains linolenic acid which triggers prostaglandin production in the body. Prostaglandin, those hormones I mentioned earlier, are involved with the onset and momentum of labor.

Most of the evidence for evening primrose oil for starting labor is anecdotal. But, in those anecdotal cases, there are mommas who swear by it. One of the only studies on primrose oil’s effectiveness at starting labor actually showed that it resulted in a slightly longer labor for those women.

6. Castor Oil

When it comes to natural labor induction methods, castor oil tends to get a lot of attention. This natural way to get labor started can be highly effective, but needs to be used under the guidance of your midwife! Don’t just try this method without speaking to her about it first.

What is castor oil and why does it work?

Castor oil is a liquid oil that comes from the beans of a castor plant. When ingested, our bodies recognize it as an irritant. It has a very strong laxative effect. But this effect is exactly why it has also been a proven way to jumpstart labor. The stimulation of your digestive system also stimulates contractions in your uterus.

There are many studies out there that confirm castor oil’s effectiveness when it comes to starting labor. This study showed that it started labor within 24 hours for 57% of women in the experiment, compared to only 2% of women in the control group (who did not ingest castor oil).

Ask your midwife before trying this!

But I’ll say it again, don’t try this induction method without talking to your midwife first! Castor oil can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration which is not how you want to be approaching labor. It needs to be ingested carefully, and should be tried in smaller amounts to test your body’s reaction.

7. Dates

Switching gears to a highly more palatable labor induction method 😉 let’s talk about dates! Unfortunately, you can’t just eat a bunch of dates and go into labor within 24 hours…

However, if you are reading this article a few weeks before your due date these little dried fruits work like magic! Various studies (published in 2011 and 2014) have shown that women who regularly eat dates beginning at 36 weeks pregnant are:

  • Significantly more likely to go into spontaneous labor (your goal!)
  • Have significantly higher cervical dilation at admission to their birth place (meaning a much shorter labor overall)
  • Have significantly lower rates of C-section and other birth interventions

So don’t wait! The recommendation is for women in their 36th week of pregnancy to eat 6-7 dates each day (like these ones). It’s that simple.

8. Other Labor Inducing Foods

Depending on your culture, where you live in the U.S., or even just how into old wives’ tales the people in your family are, you may have heard of your fair share of labor-inducing foods.

The common denominator among them tends to be that they upset your digestive tract which also might stimulate contractions.

Where I’m from, there’s a super popular Indian restaurant with a dish that’s famous for getting labor started in women who are in their ‘due date week’. It’s a rite of passage around here to go in and chat with the lovely owners and try their ‘magical’ labor inducing dish 🙂

Here’s a fun article about other restaurants around the country with famous labor-inducing dishes.

Most of these suggestions are only backed by anecdotal evidence, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to give them a try. And there aren’t any negative effects either. Have at it!

What foods induce labor?

  • Spicy Foods
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Eggplant
  • Cinnamon
  • Black Licorice

9. Massage and Acupressure

First of all, can we just say there’s absolutely no reason NOT to try massage to induce labor. What momma at the end of her pregnancy can’t benefit from a relaxing massage? The relaxation alone might be enough to get things going.

But there might be more to it. Acupressure is the practice of applying pressure to specific points on the body that connect to certain body systems. The idea behind using acupressure to start labor is that it will “increase blood flow to the uterus, stimulate contractions, and influence hormone responses”.

There isn’t a lot of strong evidence supporting acupressure’s effect on starting labor, but again, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence. It’s also free to try, and there are many great videos on what points to stimulate on YouTube.

Come on out, baby!

With the suggestions on this list for natural ways to induce labor, hopefully baby will be making their appearance soon!

Once your due date comes, be sure to discuss options with your midwife. Have a clear understanding of what it means for your home birth status and what safety precautions should be taken moving forward.

Remember, baby is going to come when they are ready, but it certainly can’t hurt to try the ideas listed here.

Since labor is on your brain (and coming any day!) don’t miss our article, 8 Must Try Pain Management Tips for a Home Birth. It’s full of great pain coping strategies specific to home birth.

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