Anecdotal evidence suggests that exercise, sex, and eating certain foods may help move labor along. But it’s best to talk with a healthcare professional before attempting to induce labor.
Your due date is an educated guess for when your baby might make its arrival.
While many women deliver perfectly healthy babies 2 weeks before or after this presumed due date, it’s recommended that women wait until at least 39 weeks for delivery.
It’s best to let mother nature decide when your baby comes.
If you’re 40 weeks in, here are seven natural ways to get things moving along.
Most of these methods are anecdotal and don’t have solid evidence that they work, so you should always talk to your healthcare provider before attempting any of these methods.
Your midwife or doctor may not be able to confirm that they work, but they can let you know if it’s safe to try with your pregnancy.
Exercise can be anything that gets the heart rate up, such as a long walk. Even if this method doesn’t work, it’s a great way to relieve stress and keep your body strong for the task ahead.
Theoretically, there are multiple reasons why having sex could induce labor.
For example, sexual activity, especially having an orgasm, can release oxytocin, which may help jumpstart uterine contractions.
Also, for pregnant people who have sex with men, there are prostaglandin hormones in semen that might help ripen the cervix.
Having sex is safe during the final weeks of pregnancy, but you shouldn’t have sex after your water has broken. Doing so can increase your risk for infection.
Stimulating your nipples can cause your uterus to contract and may bring about labor.
Nipple stimulations stimulate oxytocin production. Oxytocin is the hormone that causes the uterus to contract and the breast to eject milk.
In fact, if you choose to breastfeed your baby right after delivery, this same stimulation is what will help your uterus shrink back to its original size.
You or your partner may manually stimulate your nipples, or you can try using a breast pump.
- induce and augment labor
- avoid a medical induction
- reduce rates of postpartum hemorrhage
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years. The exact way that acupuncture works is unclear.
In Chinese Medicine, it’s believed that it balances the chi or vital energy within the body. It might also stimulate changes in hormones or in the nervous system.
Acupuncture should be administered only by a licensed acupuncturist.
Study results showed that acupuncture didn’t decrease the need for induction, but sweeping membranes did.
Some practitioners believe that acupressure can help start labor. 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 can still be an excellent way to alleviate pain and discomfort during labor.
Drinking a little bit, like only 1–2 ounces (29.57–59.14 mL) of castor oil stimulates prostaglandin release, which can help ripen the cervix and get labor started.
It’s recommended that this be done under the supervision of a midwife or doctor. People should be careful not to drink too much.
- increases cervical ripening and cervical dilation at the start of labor
- decreases the need for Pitocin use during labor
Most pregnant people at 40 weeks are likely ready to have their babies out of their bellies as soon as possible and in their arms.
However, there are plenty of perks to waiting until your body naturally decides to go into labor — including recovery.
Women who weren’t induced typically recover more quickly than those who were. More time in the womb can mean both you and your new baby get to go home from the hospital sooner.
Infants who are born after a full-term pregnancy also experience other benefits. More time in the womb typically means:
- more time to build muscle and strength
- reduced risk of low blood sugar, infection, and jaundice
- improved breathing as infants born even as little as two weeks early can experience twice the number of complications
- better feeding once born
- increased brain development, with the brain growing a third of its size between weeks 35 and 40
Let your body do the work for a few more days and take the time to get as much rest as you possibly can.
We know, that’s easier said than done when you’re 9 months pregnant. You and your baby will need all your energy soon enough!
Before trying anything that might induce labor, speak with your healthcare provider to go over any risks or possible complications.
Though some of these methods are popular folklore among pregnant women, little scientific evidence supports their efficacy.
In most cases, it’s best to let baby set their own birth date, even if it means waiting another week or two.