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Induce Labor: 7 Ways to Do it Naturally and Safely

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Maridol Ranoa-Bismark · Updated Jan 25, 2021

    Induce Labor: 7 Ways to Do it Naturally and Safely

    Expect the unexpected en route to the delivery room, or towards the end of your pregnancy.  Your amniotic sac may break, but there are no signs of labor pain. You could be overdue, but the contractions have yet to begin.  All you know is that you need to get into labor soonest.  These are some considerations when looking into how to induce labor naturally.

    What’s Induced Labor?

    Over 22% of pregnant women go through induced labor in the US, with the overall rate more than doubling since 1990, to 225 per 1,000 live childbirths in 2006.

    To induce labor, the obstetrician must stimulate the uterine contractions, to make way for a natural birth. Induced labor is said to be successful if there is an appreciable cervical change.

    If you and your baby are in good health, it is okay to look into natural ways to induce labor, with your doctor’s approval of course. So how to induce labor naturally at 40 weeks, or within that period?

    True Labor or False Labor? Here’s How to Tell

    What are the Reasons for Inducing Labor?  

    The following are scenarios are reasons for inducing labor. Do not attempt to do natural induction of labor on your own if you suffer or experience the following. You must seek medical attention and be admitted under the supervision of healthcare professionals and your doctor.

    • Post-term pregnancy. Your doctor will have you admitted for induction of labor under close supervision.
    • Premature rupture of membranes. Your amniotic sac has broken, but you do not feel contractions.
    • Chorioamnionitis. You suffer from an infection of the uterus.
    • Limited fetal growth. Given his gestational age, your baby’s estimated weight is 10% below expectations.
    • Oligohydramnios. Your baby does not have enough amniotic fluid to move around in.
    • Gestational diabetes. You contract diabetes while pregnant.
    • High blood pressure.  You develop complications due to high blood pressure and find signs of damage in other organs before and during pregnancy.  
    • Placental abruption. The doctor notices a  partial or complete peeling of your placenta from the wall of your uterus before you give birth.
    • Other medical issues. You have kidney or obesity problems.

    Induce Labor Naturally

    If you have a normal prenatal course for the whole duration of your pregnancy, the following can be done to jumpstart your labor. Remember to get your doctor or health professional’s go signal before trying these out. 

    1. Walking

    Gravity goes to work when you walk and sway your hips. The baby moves lower into the pelvis.  This, in turn, can nudge your cervix into labor, or it can fast track labor if you have started feeling contractions.  

    Remember, do not stress yourself by walking over humps or elevated areas. Wear comfortable shoes that do not strain your feet and legs.

    In addition, do not overwalk and exhaust yourself before the big day. You will need all the stamina for delivery day itself. 

    2. Exercise

    How to induce labor naturally at 40 weeks? Try the following simple exercises:

    • Deep squatting for five minutes
    • Sitting on a yoga ball and rolling your pelvis
    • Walking lunges
    • Climbing stairs
    • Sitting upright while swaying your legs may help break your amniotic sac and trigger labor
    • Having sex. Sperm cells carry prostaglandins or hormones that aid in thinning and opening the cervix, making it childbirth-ready. Refrain from sex if your amniotic sac has broken. This will also keep bad bacteria from reaching your birth canal.

    However, an important note: Research also shows that sex late during pregnancy can result in overdue babies.

    Safe and Easy Childbirth Preparation Exercises

    3. Evening primrose oil

    Several midwives recommend this to help make the cervix thin, dilate it, and hasten labor. You can take two 500 mg of evening primrose oil once you reach week 38 of pregnancy.  These capsules are available in local drugstores.

    It is best to ask your doctor first. Women with placenta previa, a pregnancy complication where the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix, should not take this natural way to induce labor.

    4. Acupuncture

    Inserting thin needles into pressure points on your body can promote uterine movement. It can put your baby into action. It also helps that acupuncture eases stress the natural way.

    However, this natural way of inducing labor will fail if the baby is not yet ready to leave the womb.  It is best to consult your doctor.

    5. Acupressure

    This age-old way of inducing labor requires pressure on parts of the body to promote uterine activity. Dr. Debra Betts, author of “The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy & Childbirth” says acupressure may be used to make the cervical opening more prepared for labor. Acupressure aids in stimulating contractions and encouraging dilation of the cervix.  

    You may also ask your partner or friend to perform the acupressure instead. Again, consult your doctor first, when looking into how to induce labor naturally at 40 weeks or within that time frame.

    6. Nipple massage

    Studies show that nipple massage can increase the amount of the hormone oxytocin in your body and hasten labor. This is especially helpful for overdue births and progressive labor.

    Using circular motions, massage your nipples and areola with your thumb and forefinger. This could produce a chemical that makes your uterus contract. But it can take a while for the contractions to start coming.

    You may ask your partner to do this if you feel tired. 

    7. Eat labor-inducing food

    At week 39 of pregnancy, it does not hurt to include these healthy foods that may help induce labor.

  •         Eggplant
  •         Balsamic vinegar
  •         Pineapple
  •         Black licorice
  •         Basil
  •         Oregano
  • What if These Natural Ways to Induce Labor Fail?  

    If despite following tips on how to induce labor naturally, you still have not gone into labor, consult your doctor. Your doctor may try to induce labor medically or order a c-section.

    Once those contractions start coming, your baby is on their way, and you are on to the next phase of motherhood.

    Learn more about Giving Birth here. 


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

    Obstetrics and Gynecology

    Written by Maridol Ranoa-Bismark · Updated Jan 25, 2021

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