• Marie Otsuka

How to naturally induce labour: What works, and what doesn't work


So you’ve watched your due date come and go, but your baby is still happily cocooned in your womb. If you’re trying to get things moving, we’ve compiled a list of methods that work (vs those that don’t!) for easy reference.

What works:

#1: Nipple stimulation

Nipple stimulation results in the body producing more oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone”. At the same time, it also causes uterine contractions, and this study shows that women who practiced nipple stimulation had a greater likelihood of going into labor within 72 hours.

#2: Acupuncture

Can Acupuncture help to jump-start labour? According to this study by the University of North Carolina, women who undergo acupuncture are indeed more likely to go into labour without a medical "push." In the study, 70% of women who got acupuncture went into labour on their own, as compared to the 50% who received standard care.

#3: Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is a supplement that aids in the release of prostaglandins (hormones that help to induce labour). With more prostaglandins in your system, your body will start to soften the cervix and get it ready for labour.

Evening primrose oil comes in capsules that can be taken orally or inserted vaginally.

What doesn’t work:

#1: Sexual intercourse

While semen contains hormones (known as prostaglandins) that “ripen” the cervix, having sex (and coming into contact with semen) does not bring on labour in a woman. Check out this study showing that vaginal sex during pregnancy has no links to an increased risk of preterm labor or premature birth.

#2: Consuming spicy foods

What does having a spicy curry have to do with inducing labour? As the theory goes, spicy foods bring about intestinal activity, and this could give the uterus a “nudge". However, gynaecologists have debunked this myth, saying that there's no direct connection between the stomach and the uterus.

#3: Consuming castor oil

If you search for “naturally induce labour” on Google, consuming castor oil (or a similar laxative) comes up as one of the top hits.

Yes, having castor oil helps you stimulate the bowels, which lean on the uterus, but this doesn’t necessarily help you go into labour more quickly. Also, it’s important to note that like other laxatives, castor oil can cause nausea and diarrhea.


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