10 ways to start labour naturally – fact or fiction?

Natural ways to get labour started

It’s the ultimate waiting game. You’ve reached (or passed) your due date and the phone is ringing off the hook with family and friends asking, “is the baby here yet?”

Well, help is at hand.

Here are 10 natural ways to try and start labour. Remember what works for one person may not work for another. But one thing’s for certain, your baby will be in your arms in no time.

Exercise

Getting physical, even just walking can kick start labour

Getting physical (but not too physical) can kick-start labour by jiggling your bub further down into the birth canal and putting pressure on the cervix.

Stair climbing and long walks (especially on sand) are definitely worth trying. They’ll also take your mind off, you know, the whole birth thing…

Sex

Sex is a great way to relax and may also help induce labour

Sex is a great way to relax and bond with your partner. It may also help induce labour because semen contains prostaglandins – hormones that can help dilate the cervix. Plus, when a woman orgasms, she produces oxytocin – the hormone that’s linked to contractions and loved up feelings.

While sex and masturbation aren’t proven to bring on labour, if you’re full term and in the mood, they’re worth a go!

Nipple stimulation

Rolling your nipples between your fingers (or using a breast pump) may trigger contractions.

Still on the topic of stimulation… Rolling your nipples between your fingers (or using a breast pump) also produces oxytocin. There’s a fair bit of support for this technique, so if you’re past your due date, then nipple stimulation may trigger contractions.

Pineapple

Eating fresh pineapple can help start natural labour

This summary, on-trend fruit contains the enzyme bromelain, which may help soften your cervix and get things moving. Plenty of women say it worked for them, so reach for fresh pineapple (not canned) and may the bromelain be with you!

Spicy food

Spicy food such as chilli peppers can trigger labour

One thought is that spicy food triggers the release of prostaglandins during digestion, ‘ripening’ the cervix for labour. Although there’s no hard evidence that chilli, cumin or garlic induces labour, if they’re an excuse for a date night, then go for it.

Castor oil

Ancient Egyptians used castor oil to start labour

Apparently, the ancient Egyptians used castor oil to start labour, but times have changed. Scientists say castor oil is ‘not harmful, not helpful’ (via NCBI), but the general feeling is that it causes vomiting and diarrhoea. Yuck.

Evening primrose oil

Evening primrose oil can soften the cervix and help start labour

This over-the-counter, plant-based oil has a sweet name and is said to start labour by softening the cervix. The jury is out on whether it actually works, but if you are going to take this supplement, talk to your medical practitioner first.

Acupuncture

acupuncture can bring on labour by correcting the flow of energy in the body

Being a human pin cushion isn’t for everybody, but plenty of natural therapists and mums say acupuncture can bring on labour by correcting the flow of energy in the body.

Scientifically, there’s no evidence that acupuncture induces labour (via Degruyter), but the choice is yours.

Acupressure

Acupressure is said to induce labour by targeting pressure points

Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine, and the idea is that it induces labour by targeting pressure points. It’s best to run this by your midwife/obstetrician before you go a bit Johnny Farnham and take the pressure down.

Red raspberry leaf tea

It has been said that raspberry leaf tea can shorten labour if you drink it from 32 weeks onwards

This herbal remedy has been found to shorten labour if you drink it from 32 weeks onwards (via Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond). In terms of starting labour, speak to your doctor before trying this.

At the end of the day, what really starts labour is biological. If your body is already gearing up for childbirth, then some of these methods might trigger contractions.

‘Til then, don’t worry and be happy because the waiting game will eventually end and you can start answering your phone again!

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