Waiting for baby?

Your due date is an educated guess for when your baby might make its arrival. Many women deliver perfectly healthy babies two weeks before or two weeks after this presumed due date. In a study published by Birth, 201 new mothers were surveyed about inducing labor at home. Of these women, 50 percent had tried some natural method before giving birth. Take heed, though: In recent years, the definition of a “full-term” pregnancy has gone from 37 to 39 weeks.

If you’ve reached this point (or, perhaps, far beyond), here are 9 natural ways to get things moving along.

1. Exercise

exercise

Anything from a long walk to stair climbing can get labor initiated. Gravity may help your baby descend farther into the birth canal and dilate your cervix through simple pressure. Even if this method doesn’t work, it’s a great way to relieve stress and keep your body strong for the task ahead.

Learn more: Which exercises are safe in the third trimester? »

2. Nipple Stimulation

Stimulating your nipples can cause your uterus to contract and possibly bring about labor. In fact, if you choose to breastfeed your baby right after delivery, this same stimulation is what will help your uterus to shrink back to its original size. You or your partner may manually roll your nipples or you can try using a breast pump for stronger stimulation.

Read more: How to perform nipple stimulation to induce labor »

3. Membrane stripping

Some providers will offer to strip your membranes to encourage labor. Though the procedure is done in the office, there are no medications involved. Your doctor will use a gloved finger to separate the amniotic sac from the uterine wall. This action releases more of those prostaglandins.

Following the procedure, you may experience cramps and spotting. If you experience heavier bleeding similar to a menstrual period, contact your doctor.

Learn more: Is membrane stripping effective for inducing labor? »

4. Acupuncture

acupuncture

Acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin in the body. In a randomized trial published by the Journal of Perinatal Medicine, over 400 women were given acupuncture, membrane stripping, or both procedures before their labors. There were no significant differences in the outcomes of the groups, but the vast majority of these women did not require medical inductions.

5. Acupressure

Some practitioners believe that acupressure can start and restart labor. The key is beginning the practice early and often. Various pressure points are safe to press starting at 37 weeks. You can increase pressure the closer you are to your due date and during labor itself. But prior to applying acupressure to yourself, make sure you get proper instruction from a trained acupressure professional.

If acupressure doesn’t get your labor going, it’s still an excellent way to alleviate pain and discomfort during delivery.

Read about which acupressure points are thought to induce labor »

6. Spicy foods

spicy foods

Maybe you should go out for Mexican food tonight. Spicy foods cause your body to release prostaglandins throughout the digestive process. These hormones may trigger contractions in the uterus. At the very least, you’ll enjoy a tasty meal without having to wash the dishes.

7. Bumpy car ride

Have you heard that taking a bumpy car ride can naturally induce labor? This popular idea is circulated on birth boards and makes its way around town via word-of-mouth. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that it actually works.

If you choose to give this a try, just remember to drive safely and always buckle up.

8. Evening primrose oil (EPO)

Though EPO itself may not cause labor, it can prime and soften your cervix. You may take the oil orally or insert it vaginally for the best results. While healthcare providers have long suggested taking EPO to ease birth, there is little proof that it naturally induces labor.

Learn more: Pros and cons of using evening primrose oil »

9. Red raspberry leaf tea

tea

Midwives often recommend drinking red raspberry leaf tea in combination with evening primrose oil as your due date nears. The team at OBGYN North in Austin, Texas, share that the tea tones the uterus and helps to organize irregular contractions into regular, productive patterns.

Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll stay hydrated.

Read more: Herbal teas that are safe to drink during pregnancy »

The end is near

Of course, before trying anything that might induce labor, you’ll want to speak with your doctor to go over any risks or possible complications. Though some of these methods are popular folklore among pregnant women, there’s little scientific evidence to support their efficacy. In most cases, it’s best to let the baby set its own birth date, even if it means waiting another week or two.