My wife is rapidly approaching her due date (Oct 18th). She is ready to start labor ("get this baby outta me!"), but it hurts her to walk for extended periods of time. Our baby has consistently measured two weeks big, and the doctor is beginning to get concerned about the baby's size. My wife desperately wants a natural delivery, so we will do anything to help get labor started.

What are some ways to help bring on labor?

asked 13 Oct '09, 20:01

Matthew%20Jones's gravatar image

Matthew Jones
accept rate: 18%

Apart from walking (that you say it hurts her), having sex is one way to induce labor.

Here are some more tips:

  1. Eat spicy foods or pineapple.

  2. Go for a walk or march up some stairs. This is thought to bring on labor because of the pressure of the baby's head pressing down on your cervix. At the very least, walking can help get your baby into a better position for labor.

  3. Have sex. A favorite for many pregnant women, sex can help by releasing a hormone called oxytocin, which causes the uterus to contract. Additionally, semen contains a substance known as prostaglandins, which will help soften the cervix.

  4. Nipple stimulation. For those who find sex just too uncomfortable right now, nipple stimulation may be a better choice. It helps to bring on labor in much the same way sex does, by releasing oxytocin. However, this method may take a bit more effort than sex to start labor.

  5. Stretching of the uterine opening membranes. This can be done by your doctor or midwife and has been found to increase the chances of labor starting within 48 hours.

  6. Complementary therapies. Acupuncture, massage, teas, herbs and homeopathic remedies can be helpful when it comes to inducing labor. However, make sure you go to a licensed practitioner who has experience treating pregnant women.


answered 13 Oct '09, 20:09

JJJ's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

All except 2 and 5 she'll go for. Thanks!

(13 Oct '09, 20:35) Matthew Jones

Note on nipple stimulation: The 3rd edition of What to Expect when you're expecting (p. 323) warns against nipple stimulation unless you're under medical supervision (contractions can be very strong). That being said, when I was in the hospital a nurse pressed a warm towel against my breasts to help labor progress faster and it appeared to work quite well.

(13 Oct '09, 21:20) Kiesa ♦

I heard the thing about sex inducing labour and asked my doctor about it. It's true that oxytocin is released, but a very small amount. To release enough to actually have an effect, a woman would have to have sex something like 8-10 times within about 15 minutes.

(14 Oct '09, 13:43) Graeme

@Graeme: If nothing else, it passes the time. :-)

(22 Dec '09, 20:58) Scott ♦♦

Note, that while semen does contain prostaglandins, it's a very small amount and doesn't do a whole lot. The true producer of oxytocin is female orgasm, not just sex.

(22 Dec '09, 21:09) Fun2Dream

Evening primrose oil is a natural source of prostaglandins, which ripen and prepare the cervix for labor. My midwife suggests taking it orally from 37 weeks, and using it as a vaginal suppository when you're close to or past your duedate. You can read a good explanation here.


answered 14 Oct '09, 02:13

Emily's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

My wife tried (nearly) everything (1-4 + parts of 6) but she had to be induced with 2 of her 3 labors, and the other was augemented with induction medication since she wasn't going fast enough.

One of the things she did with all three was taking Castor oil. Apparently the stimulation of the bowels can help get other things going as well, but there are also others that say this can cause the baby to pass meconium, but that didn't happen for us, but do so at your own risk.

After Naomi Watts "Misconceptions" and watching "The Business of being Born", I wonder if natural births are a thing of the past, but I wish you and your wife luck.


answered 13 Oct '09, 20:29

BryanG's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Interestingly, "Business of Being Born" was what prompted my wife to go for a natural childbirth.

(13 Oct '09, 20:32) Matthew Jones

Business of Being Born is such a must see for pregnant women.

(14 Oct '09, 11:13) Michelle

I meant Naomi Wolf... not Naomi Watts, oops. Maybe I should throw in a Naomi Campbell as well for good measure.

(14 Oct '09, 15:00) BryanG

They say raspberry leaf tea works very well - not raspberry tea though - must be tea made of the leaf of the plant.

My step brother does ancient Chinese medicine and he says that there are ways to induce via accupuncture and accupressure too.

I was desperate when I got to 36 weeks but they accidentally broke my water when I went in for a check up at 37 weeks so thankfully I didn't have to wait past that point. They did however have to induce the labour with the synthetic hormones and that is not ideal. I will avoid that at all costs this time!!!


answered 14 Oct '09, 03:07

dreamerisme's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%

My wife tried most of the Old Wives' Tales methods, including pine apple, spicy food, lots of walking, sex and I'm pretty sure there's a couple I'm forgetting. I think they are just that... Old Wives' Tales...

Then she went in for a scheduled induction. They use a hormone called Pitocin, that did the trick ;)

I suggest you consult with your OB about induction.


answered 14 Oct '09, 00:02

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accept rate: 0%

edited 14 Oct '09, 00:36

Scott's gravatar image

Scott ♦♦


-1 There are many potential problems with a pitocin induction. Chemical induction can cause the uterus to contract too hard, leading to a distressed baby. Pitocin contractions are far more painful (I know this from experience as well as research) and usually require narcotics or an epidural to cope with it; these also carry risks to mother and baby. Finally, induced labors are far more likely to end in cesearean than labors which begin on their own. Because of this, it is wise to exhaust natural options before defaulting to a pitocin induction.

(14 Oct '09, 02:21) Emily

Emily does a very good job of listing the risks of Pitocin. However, there are pros and cons to most things in life. As mentioned above, I would highly recommend researching all options and discussing them with your health care provider. Pitocin is obviously not the answer for everyone but natural methods of induction might not be either. It is important to remember that just because something is "natural" does not make it safe.

(14 Oct '09, 03:33) Kiesa ♦

Pitocin is AWFUL. If you want to go natural and avoid a c-section do not go for it. AWFUL. I know from experience. Just because it is "prescribed by doctors" does not make it safe.

(14 Oct '09, 11:15) Michelle

It's too scary to do anything to induce labor.

My youngest son was measuring 2 weeks farther along and when I got induced and he had problems with his lungs and was in the NICU for a week. That was the scariest thing I've ever been through...

Just take long walks, but walks only help if you are already dilated.


answered 14 Oct '09, 12:55

Mommy%20trial%20and%20error's gravatar image

Mommy trial and error
accept rate: 4%

I doubt it had anything to do with the induction... after all, it's only accelerating the natural process (if done right of course)

(14 Oct '09, 13:42) JJJ

I'm not blaming the induction for causing him to be in the NICU. I am just saying that they said my son was bigger than what he really was.

(14 Oct '09, 14:54) Mommy trial and error

It's hard to get an accurate idea of how big a baby is before it is born. The day before my son was born, the doctor said he would be smaller than his sister was. She was 8lb 1oz at birth. He was 8lb 8oz.

(16 Oct '09, 02:38) mkcoehoorn

It sounds weird, and it's probably just coincidence, but almost everyone I know who had an induction scheduled went into labor less than 48 hours before the scheduled time. When my son was born, I went in for my 38 week check up on Thursday and was 3 cm without contractions. So my OB scheduled an induction for 5:00 the next morning. I went into labor at 11 that night. My son arrived at 3:41 am on Friday.

There may be a medical explanation or it could be coincidence or it could be divine intervention, but maybe if the doctor will go ahead and schedule your wife for an induction, she will go into labor naturally before that date.


answered 14 Oct '09, 04:05

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accept rate: 8%

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Asked: 13 Oct '09, 20:01

Seen: 14,136 times

Last updated: 14 Oct '09, 12:55