10 Natural Induction Methods
Truth be told, there is no evidence-based way to “naturally” bring on labor. While these may not be natural induction methods, these are exercises and practices to prime your body through alignment and by boosting oxytocin. Oxytocin is the star-hormone in labor. It is the messenger from the brain that communicates to the cells in the uterus to contract and dilate the cervix, so do all the oxytocin boosting activities (see below). As your body and baby move closer to the precipice of labor, the below practices will encourage it to begin and make it much easier to progress.
Nipple stimulation uses your own natural oxytocin to encourage or stimulate labor. The most effective method for nipple stimulation is to use an electronic breast pump to alternately stimulate each breast for 15 minutes per side alternating sides with breaks until contractions strengthen. Nipple stimulation usually works better if you are feeling some contractions already. Like any other mechanism for stirring up contractions, this method can cause hyperstimulation of the uterus if done too frequently, so listen to your body and be sure to take breaks.
Sex can assist in stimulating labor in several ways. Semen is a natural prostaglandin (softens and effaces the cervix), orgasm causes uterine contractions, and intimacy increases oxytocin levels, which needs to reach a threshold in your body for labor to begin. Remember: Only do what feels good to you. Even lying in bed kissing counts.
There are three main acupressure points for encouraging labor. The first is the roof of your mouth just behind the ridge behind your teeth. The second is the spot between the thumb and index finger. The last is the spot four fingers above our inner ankle. You can apply strong pressure to these spots with your fingers for several minutes at a time or have your partner do so.
Acupuncture is helpful throughout pregnancy. Towards the end of pregnancy, there are specific labor prep protocols that an acupuncturist can use to help your body prepare for labor.
A chiropractic adjustment relaxes the floor of the pelvis and returns the pelvis to balanced alignment, creating room for baby to easy descend into the pelvis. When the baby moves down, their head will put pressure on your cervix to stimulate labor to begin.
Intentional and relaxing touch can be a wonderful way to promote the production of oxytocin. Have your partner spend time kneading and sweeping through the muscles on your back and really getting into the sacrum. A focus on your glute muscles will help relax the ligaments in your pelvis.
Furthermore, you may seek an “induction massage” which focuses on pressure points to encourage spontaneous labor. See our partner Sparrow’s Nest to book an induction massage.
Castor oil is perhaps one of the more commonly known natural induction methods. The use of castor oil in late pregnancy is highly debated in the birth community because it works as a powerful laxative, often leading to diarrhea and vomiting. When you stimulate the smooth muscle of the intestines, the smooth muscle of the uterus can be prompted to act, starting contractions. For those whose bodies and babies are on the precipice of labor, this is enough to bring on contractions that progress into steady labor patterns. Adversely, castor oil can bring on prodromal labor and lead to exhaustion, dehydration, and of course, discomfort. For this reason, it is highly recommended to consult your care provider before using this method. If they feel comfortable with it, they will offer a recommendation for use and/or dosage.
Some people swear their labor was brought on by that extra spicy dish they ate a day or hour before. What’s really going on? Much like castor oil, spicy food can act as an irritant to your intestines which may (or may not) cause cramping or uterine contractions if you’re already dilated. Our best advice is to take a page from Socrates – ”know thyself.’ If your body doesn’t tolerate spicy foods in general, late in pregnancy might not be the time to try this method.
Labor is much more likely to progress if you are mentally and physically relaxed, and hydrotherapy can be an incredible tool for this. Draw a bath and create a spa-like atmosphere decked out with candles and your favorite, mellow playlist. Enjoy taking the weight off of your achy muscles and joints. If a shower is more your style, enjoy the pressure of the water on your shoulders and back. If you feel comfortable, invite your partner in for some added oxytocin.
This is a series of positions that helps get the baby lined up in an optimal position for labor, ideally Left Occiput Anterior (head down and butt up and facing out towards your front). This is helpful to encourage labor to start or power up a stalled labor. It creates space for baby’s head to come down and put pressure on the cervix. For more information go to: https://www.milescircuit.com/
Village Birth offers doula services, childbirth classes, newborn care classes, lactation and pregnancy support for Los Angeles. Our space is in Sparrow’s Nest in Pasadena (bordering Eagle Rock) where we hold classes, support groups, workshops, and meetups. Interested in learning more about the birth process and options available in your birth setting? Check out Village Birth’s prenatal classes.