7 Tips to Encourage Labor to Start Naturally
Please note: The techniques in this article are recommended for women who are 38 weeks and after in their pregnancy. As a doula I am a trained professional to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to pregnant women and do not offer medical advice. Always consult with your care provider before implementing any of the below techniques.
“Your baby will come when they are ready to come.”
If you’re a mom-to-be, how many times have you heard this statement?
As frustrating as it might feel to not know exactly when your baby will make their entrance into the world, it’s a great opportunity to practice surrendering into the process of birth.
Because unless you have a medical reason, there’s simply no reason to rush into an induction.
In this post, you’ll understand what labor induction is, the potential risks of having labor induced, and 7 holistic techniques to encourage labor to start spontaneously, or naturally.
What is a Labor Induction?
The Cleveland Clinic defines labor inductions as “...when a pregnancy care provider starts labor instead of letting labor start on its own.”
Know Your Options, Momma! Potential Risks of Labor Inductions
It’s important that you know your options! As a doula, I'm on a mission to empower women to have the births they want. I offer prenatal support and childbirth education to moms like you who want to learn and understand your many options available to you. After all, you’ve got to know all of your options to be able to make informed and empowered decisions.
With that in mind, let’s talk about labor inductions and their risks. The associated risk of inductions does depend on how you are induced. Below are just a few risks that labor inductions could pose:
Lengthy hospital stay. It can take anywhere from 12-24 hours in the hospital before labor even starts after being induced.
Increased risk of C-Section.
Continuous monitoring. If you want to be free to move around, this can be challenging.
More painful contractions. The use of pitocin to induce labor can make contractions much more painful than contractions from spontaneous labor.
Harder route to unmedicated birth. If you’re wanting to try for an unmedicated birth, inductions can make this way harder to achieve.
Childbirth Education is Self-Empowerment.
Now that you are in the know, ultimately momma, it’s up to you to decide what is best for you, your body, and your baby.
For those of you mommas that are at the very end of the 3rd trimester there are a few holistic, evidence-based ways that you can begin implementing around 38 weeks pregnant to naturally induce labor.
How to Induce Labor Naturally
Below you'll find 7 tips to promote labor to start on its own.
Natural Birth Induction Technique #1 Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil can be taken vaginally or orally. It’s thought to be a natural labor inducer because it has prostaglandins, which help soften the cervix. Remember, your cervix has to ripen, or soften and open up, in order for labor to start.
Natural Birth Induction Technique #2
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red raspberry leaf tea helps to tighten and tone the uterus. And you want a healthy, toned uterus so the muscle is strong enough to create labor contractions! While the tea itself might not directly induce labor, its incredible blend of vitamins and minerals are so supportive to the overall health of your uterus, which will further prepare your body to be labor ready.
Natural Birth Induction Technique #3
If you don’t have your cupboard stocked with this miracle fruit, then you might want to consider picking some dates up at the grocery store next time you’re there. It’s said that 6-7 dates a day help tone the uterus, stimulate contractions and decrease postpartum hemorrhaging. And, if that’s not encouraging enough for you, in this published study in the Journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health, it’s shared that women who ate dates after 37 weeks pregnant experienced better Bishop scores (how ready your body is for delivery) at admission to birthplace, a decrease in c-sections, and a decrease in vacuum or forceps assisted deliveries.
Natural Birth Induction Technique #4
Another common way mommas encourage labor naturally is by drinking castor oil. Castor oil can cause the intestinal tract to contract, which can then stimulate the uterus to begin contracting. Use caution with this technique though momma because it can also cause horrible diarrhea.
Natural Birth Induction Technique #5
Nipple Stimulation or Breast Pump
Nipple stimulation is great for inducing labor to begin or can be supportive during labor to encourage things to progress if they are slowing down. Nipple stimulation releases oxytocin, the “love” hormone that your body needs to feel safe, calm, and connected to encourage contractions. You can manually stimulate your nipples, ask your partner to massage your breasts, or you can use a breast pump with this induction technique.
Natural Birth Induction Technique #6 Movement
In order for baby to come, they have to have room in your pelvis to arrive. There are many positions, movements, and stretches you can rely on at the end of your pregnancy to help open your pelvis up, including movements like pelvic rocking, lunge stretches, standing Psoas Release, and the glute scoot. The Miles Circuit is also a series of positions that help your body align to create room for baby to get into a better position that will help encourage labor naturally. The Body Ready Method® is also supportive in preparing your body for an optimal labor. You can read my blog post about that here.
Natural Birth Induction Technique #7
While the above list of natural induction techniques can encourage labor to start, there’s no greater technique than surrender, momma. Your mind is so powerful. The more that you can surrender, the easier it is for your body to shift from the sympathetic nervous system, or that state of fight or flight, to the parasympathetic nervous system, or that state of rest and digest. Your body needs to feel safe and relaxed for labor to begin, and you can’t feel relaxed until you shift into that parasympathetic state. What better way to relax than to release, let go of, and surrender your birth.
Your body knows what to do, momma!
At this point in your pregnancy, you’ve done all of the preparing that you can do. Now it’s time to relax and rest as much as you can before your journey through birth begins.