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Our Favorite Labor Induction Tips (and Some to Avoid)

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Throughout all of my pregnancy and labor research, the one thing I never wanted to experience was a frantic search for labor induction tips.

Since I’d had a relatively easy pregnancy, I assumed my body would do what it needed to bring our little one safely into the world. Imagine my surprise when my due date came and went with no sign of impending labor.

As a matter of fact, labor was so far out of the realm of possibility on my due date that my doctor told me there was zero progress happening inside my body.

So, I waited… and waited… and waited.

It would be almost two weeks after my due date before the show finally got on the road. You can bet that my Google search bar had the phrase “How to induce labor naturally” on speed dial.

If you and your doctor feel like it’s safe for you to have your baby at any time, there are some valid options to get the party started.

The only problem is figuring out which labor induction tips you can trust and which ones are a load of crap. 

That’s where our team comes in.

We’re here to help you analyze the most common techniques for natural labor induction. Plus, we’ve got some great tips if you want to know how to prepare for labor induction at the hospital!

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Is Trying to Induce Labor at Home Safe?

Despite the fact that I was terrified of a hospital labor induction, I was equally concerned about trying something at home that would potentially harm my baby or myself. 

As a general rule of thumb, you should always run labor induction tips by your doctor or midwife before attempting them. If your care team feels it’s safe to try and induce labor naturally, they will likely offer suggestions on how to do so.

Some things to consider before attempting to induce include:

  • Are you more than 37 weeks pregnant?
  • Is your baby’s head down?
  • Do you or your baby have any pre-existing conditions that might interfere with induction techniques?
  • Does your doctor say it’s okay?

Are There Guaranteed Ways to Induce Labor?

So, your doctor gives you the go-ahead to try out some labor induction tips, yay! But now you’re probably wondering which ones are the most reliable.

Well, sadly, there are no guaranteed ways to induce labor naturally.

No matter how valid an induction technique might seem, if your body and baby aren’t ready for the labor and delivery circus to begin, these tips will probably not work.

Trust me, I tried everything in the book for days, and nothing seemed to speed up the process until my body was ready. 

Is Natural Labor Induction or Hospital Induction Better?

You might be thinking – why waste time with at-home labor induction tips when I could just ask for a hospital induction instead?

For some people, a hospital induction might not be the best option.

One study by Listening to Mothers showed that 50% of the women surveyed had undergone a hospital induction before labor. While this practice is more commonplace than ever before, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the preferred first choice for labor induction.

Being medically induced can present significant challenges and risks to expectant mothers. These include:

  • Increased risk of c-section
  • Infections in mothers and/or babies
  • Overstimulation of Uterus
  • Uterine Rupture
  • Fetal Death

Most natural labor techniques aren’t as intense as hospital inductions, which include the use of medications like oxytocin or prostaglandins. In many cases, they pose less risk to women when used correctly.

Keep in mind that medical inductions are often necessary to ensure safe labor and delivery. While advocating for your medical needs and expectations is crucial, listening to your doctor’s opinions on topics like these is also imperative. 

Woman laying on a table with acupuncture needles being placed in her back by a male doctor.
Looking to induce labor naturally? Check out these labor induction tips!

Which Labor Induction Tips Are Most Reliable?

During my first few days of being an overdue pregnant woman, I was “blessed” with a barrage of suggested techniques that were “guaranteed ways to induce labor.”

Well, friends, no matter how much yoga ball bouncing I did, or how much spicy food I ate, our little girl refused to budge. One day, I even got a pedicure and practically begged my technician to push the magic “labor button” as hard as possible during my massage.

Again, our daughter clung to her uterine waterbed.

The moral of the story is this: no matter what experience a friend of a friend may have had, most natural labor techniques aren’t valid options for induction.

To help you understand what works and what doesn’t, we’re breaking down some of the most commonly discussed techniques.

1. Castor Oil

Uhhh, the castor oil suggestion needs dealing with straight from the start. People have touted the magical labor induction qualities of consuming castor oil for generations. In reality, it usually just sends you running for the toilet.

Don’t take my word for it, though – a 2009 study of more than 600 women proved ingesting castor oil did nothing to speed up impending labor.

While the study also suggests there’s no harm in trying this labor induction tip, if you give it a go, prepare yourself that it likely won’t work, and you’ll be stuck feeling miserable and pooping your brains out for no good reason.

2. Acupuncture

Studies show there’s some legitimacy to using acupuncture for fertility, but can the same be said about inducing labor?

There are mixed opinions on whether acupuncture will send you into full-blown labor, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an effective way to prepare your body for birth. 

Research shows acupuncture can help soften and prepare the cervix for delivery. 

3. Having Sex

You’ve probably heard that having sex is a great way to start labor (and if you haven’t yet, your partner will probably let you know!).

In reality, though, there’s no reason to believe an increased amount of intercourse affects the speed at which a woman goes into labor. 

4. Membrane Sweep

I have a personal affinity for membrane sweeping as a helpful labor induction tip. Why you may ask? Because it worked for me during both of my pregnancies!

I was overdue with both of my girls and went into labor the same day I had my membranes swept each time. While this process doesn’t work 100% of the time (again, if your body isn’t ready, it’s not happening!), it does seem like a great place to start.

What does it mean to have your membranes swept or “stripped,” you might be wondering? 

If you have begun to dilate and are over 39 weeks pregnant, your doctor can try to separate the amniotic sac from the wall of your uterus by inserting gloved fingers and “sweeping the membranes” that connect the two.

Many organizations, such as the Cleveland Clinic, believe this to be an ideal first step for inducing labor. 

5. Nipple Stimulation

While stimulating your nipples might seem like a strange way to get labor going, there’s actually some sense behind the process.

Studies show that nipple stimulation can naturally produce heightened oxytocin levels in a woman’s body. Oxytocin is the natural form of Pitocin, a medication typically used during hospital inductions.  

Furthermore, mamas who participate in nipple stimulation as a labor induction method might experience shorter labor times and less risk of cesareans or postpartum hemorrhages

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FAQ About Hospital Inductions

In some cases, figuring out how to induce labor naturally is not a good option. For example, if your health or your baby’s is at risk, your physician may want to take immediate action. In this event, your doctor may suggest scheduling a hospital induction.

Before you head in, though, you’ll probably have some questions about the process. We’re here to help.

1. What Reasons Are There for Hospital Inductions?

While being overdue (meaning you’ve gone over 40 weeks of pregnancy) is a common reason your doctor might consider inducing you, there are other reasons this process might be necessary. These include:

  • Your baby isn’t showing positive growth.
  • You are low on amniotic fluid. 
  • You have gestational diabetes.
  • You or your baby have a diagnosed heart, kidney, or lung problem. 
  • You’re experiencing problems with your uterus, such as infection.

2. What Medications Are Most Common During Hospital Inductions?

Medicinal forms of oxytocin, i.e., Pitocin,  are often used to produce contractions. Other medications are used to soften your cervix, including Cervadil. 

While medications like these are reliable and trusted ways to induce labor, they do come with risks. Pitocin, for example, can lead to an increased chance of c-section and a high infant heart rate. Cervadil can cause various side effects, such as fever, nausea, diarrhea, or back pain. 

3. Will Your Doctor Automatically Break Your Water When Inducing You?

This will depend on your physician, but most doctors prefer to let your water break on its own during labor. In some cases, if progression stalls during labor, your doctor might consider breaking your water to get things back on track.

During both of my labors, my midwife decided to break my water, and our babies were born just a couple of hours later.

4. How Do You Prepare for Labor Induction?

When your doctor decides it’s time to induce you, you’re probably wondering how to prepare for labor induction. 

Well, lucky for you, we’ve created this handy-dandy labor induction checklist:

5. How Long Does it Take Labor to Start After Induction?

The length of time it takes labor to begin after induction can vary. While it can take 2 – 3 days for some women, others start laboring within half an hour of receiving Pitocin.

For the most part, labor will begin rather quickly once medications have been administered.

6. How Long Does Labor Last After Induction?

You might assume being induced puts you on the fast track to having your baby. Surprisingly, the labor stage can still last 1 to 2 days if not more (we’re sorry!).

A medium brown table has two bowls of castor seeds and a clear bottle of castor oil in the middle.
It’s not uncommon for women to search for labor induction tips. We’re sharing our list!

Talk to Your Doctor About the Best Labor Induction Tips for You

Once I reached my 41st week of pregnancy, I assumed my body didn’t know what to do, and my baby would never come out.

Well, let me let you in on a little secret: no one has ever been pregnant forever!

No matter how long a pregnancy might seem, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. The only unknown variable is how long it will take to get there. If you’d like to speed up the process, though, techniques like acupuncture, nipple stimulation, and membrane sweeps are viable options with your healthcare provider’s approval. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is the safety of you and your baby. No matter how miserable you might be, you shouldn’t try to figure out how to induce labor naturally without speaking with your doctor first. It’s just not worth the risk!

Make an appointment and voice your concerns. Let your healthcare provider know what you’re interested in trying and heed their advice.

Just keep in mind that your baby will be here sooner or later. While it might seem like it’s taking forever, they’ll be on the other side of your belly in what will later seem like the blink of an eye. Hang in there!

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Have you tried any of these labor induction tips? Were they successful?

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