10 Ways to Induce Labor

Pregnant woman with hand on hip, mid section
You may be able to help move things along. (Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

You're done. Maybe you're close to your due date, or just a little past. But the joys of pregnancy are waning and you wish to see your little one, or perhaps just your feet. It's not clear what actually triggers labor, but there are some tried-and-true approaches that may have you winging your way to the hospital.

Natural Means

Try acupressure. Just above the ankle, on the inside of your leg, there's a pressure point that can start labor. Feel along the inside of your leg above your ankle. The spot that feels sensitive (you may have felt it before, as it's sensitive around your menstrual period, too) is the spot for which you are looking. Gently rub back and forth on this spot for 10 to 15 minutes and see if you feel the gentle beginnings of labor within 24 hours.

Walking is also a good way to start labor naturally. The swing of your gait helps settle the baby into position in your pelvic girdle, and gravity helps move the baby down.

Making love is also a well-known natural means of inducing labor. The chemical composition of sperm helps relax the cervix and begin contractions.

More Natural Means

Castor oil has long been touted by midwives and other birth-focused practitioners as a tool to induce labor. Drink 1 to 4 oz. in a favorite juice and gulp it down quickly. It also acts as a natural laxative.

Spicy foods are always discussed as a good means to induce labor. There isn't any statistical proof that this works, however, and it could cause stomach upset.

Herbs such as blue and black cohosh are reputed to have labor-inducing properties, according to DrSpock.com. Blue cohosh appears to strengthen contractions, and black cohosh makes them more regular. However, the effectiveness of these herbs and their impact on overall health has not been studied and should be discussed with your doctor before use.

Nipple stimulation causes the release of oxytocin, which causes labor. However, this method is not recommended, as it can cause constant, unending contractions that can cause issues with fetal heartbeat and overtire the laboring mother.

Getting the Doctor Involved

Have your doctor strip your membranes. This simple, though uncomfortable, process, involves having your doctor insert a gloved finger and release the amniotic sac from its attachment to the lower part of the uterus.

Cervical gel is another means to medically induce labor. Your doctor will apply a prostaglandin-rich gel to your cervix to help it ripen and induce labor. Sometimes this occurs in a hospital setting right before other methods are used. Often, you have the gel applied and go home to see if it works.

A pitocin drip is another means of inducing labor. Pitocin is the synthetic version of oxytocin, the hormone that starts and maintains labor naturally in your body. Your doctor will insert an IV and begin the drip at a reasonably low dosage, increasing it as necessary. This is typically provided in a hospital setting.

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