A pregnancy is considered term between 37 and 42 weeks. Labor induction, whether at-home or by a medical worker, should be avoided prior to that time to ensure that the baby is fully developed. Any woman considering at-home remedies to start her labor should first have a detailed discussion with her doctor.
At-home remedies for labor induction are often gentler than the medical interventions a doctor might use in the hospital, according to an article on Mothering.com by Nancy Griffin, a Bradley Method childbirth teacher at St. John's Hospital in Southern California, a lactation educator and an expert in pregnancy and postpartum exercise, At-home remedies rely on hormones the body already produces to get labor going. For example, oxytocin, produced by the body in large amounts during natural birth, is responsible for feelings of love and well-being, and might possibly make birth less painful. Its synthetic counterpart, pitocin, which is often used in medical labor inductions, cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. In fact, according to Griffin, it might actually make labor more painful and produce such strong contractions that blood flow to the baby is compromised.
Some midwives and doulas offer guidance on which herbs to use for a safe at-home labor induction. If a woman is under the care of a conventional doctor, she should seek the advice of a homeopath before attempting to use any kind of herb. Cohosh root, clary sage oil, castor oil and evening primrose oil can effectively induce labor in some women.
Intercourse is an effective means of labor induction, as semen contains prostaglandins, which help soften the cervix. Repeated exposure is preferable to a single encounter, as semen has a cumulative ripening effect. Nipple stimulation signals the brain to release oxytocin into a mother’s system, which might also start labor. Nipples can be stimulated with a breast pump or manually. Light exercise, such as a walk or yoga, can also start labor safely at home. Both help position the baby low in the pelvis so its head presses against the mother’s cervix, causing it to dilate. Exercise can also give the mother an opportunity to clear her head. Stress and fear are common culprits of stalled or nonexistent labors.
Several acupressure points in the body might trigger labor when stimulated, according to Debra Betts, a registered nurse and the author of "The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Childbirth and Pregnancy." A mother or her partner can apply light pressure to the following points throughout the day in order to start contractions: Spleen 6, located about four finger widths above the inside of the ankle, and Intestine 4, located in the middle of the web of skin between the thumb and index finger.
Labor induction is serious and should not be attempted unless the mother is under the close supervision of a birth professional. She should communicate the treatment protocols of any other health practitioners she works with--homeopath, herbalist or acupuncturist—to her doctor or midwife.