How to Go into Labour (or Labor if you’re getting picky)

If your due date has come and gone, here are some tricks to get that baby evicted.

I would like to start this post by saying I tried some of these when I was 41 weeks pregnant with a 10lb baby (which put me in the same scientific classification as an elephant seal) and they did sweet bugger all.

However, I didn’t try all of them and, hey, just because they didn’t work for me doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, so let’s get to it.

I found that most suggestions fell into three categories:

  • things that have to do with gravity
  • things that have to do with hormones
  • and things that make your uterus contract with herbs and/or pressure.

So here goes:

Walking:

I had to laugh at this one because it kind of implies that you haven’t been upright until this point. It may be worth a try to waddle around the block a couple times  maybe you could go for ice cream. Just don’t walk so far that you have to give birth squatting in a far off field somewhere, you know, unless that’s what you were going for.

 

Dancing:

Nothing says “Work it, Hooker!” like a desperate, overdue pregnant woman busting a move on the dance floor. I didn’t try this one but I totally would have cleared a bar top Coyote Ugly style and done the worm if I had been told it would kick start my labour. I also would have also slit the throat of a one-eyed goat when the moon was full if someone had told me that would work too, so this may not be the best thing to base your decisions on.

 

Going up stairs two at a time:

Yes, because I can remember what a specimen of fine cardiovascular health I was at 41 weeks pregnant. I wasn’t great at climbing stairs before I was pregnant so unless the idea was for me to collapse from exhaustion then “bounce” the baby out of me while I tumbled down the stairs, then I doubt it would have worked for me but you may be in better shape.

 

Bounce on an exercise ball:

Well, at least it’s not climbing stairs and you can watch t.v. while doing it. You’re supposed sit on the ball with your legs apart so your pelvis is open. I suggest you do this one when people are over and you want them to leave.

 

Sex:

Sex makes you release a hormone called oxytocin which causes the uterus to contract. Now, from what I’m gathering, you kind of have to be keen on the sex to get this stuff going so if you’re coming at it from a “I’d rather gargle glass than do this right now but I want this baby out of me” kind of place, it might not work. Although, semen is also supposed to soften your cervix so this may the time to get that wicked looking guy that works at the mechanic’s to help you out. (I suppose your husband could help out too but how boring is that?)

 

Nipple Stimulation:

I don’t know if it’s just me, but this one makes me go “bleech” because it always sounds like some skeezy guy sitting at the end of a bar came up with it  “Yeah, that’s right hot pregnant lady…just like that”. It is supposed to have the same effect as sex in that it’s supposed to release oxtocin to get things started. I supposed it’s worth a shot but, for the love of God, close your curtains.

 

Pineapple:

Pineapple, papaya and mango, all contain an enzyme called bromelain which might help soften your cervix. Bromelain breaks down during the canning process so eat the fresh stuff. Although, it seems these fruits don’t contain very large amounts of bromelain so you’d have to consume more than half-a-dozen of them to make a dent. It’s not like eating six pineapples wouldn’t do anything weird to your digestive system or anything.

 

Evening primrose oil:

Evening primrose oil is a source of prostaglandins which is supposed to soften up your cervix for labour. You can take it orally (3-4, 500mg capsules daily) or apply it directly to your cervix by inserting an entire capsule into your vagina before bed so it works its magic over night. Personally, I’m not sure if this kind of tinkering should be done at home but it’s mentioned a number of times online so I’ve included it here. By the way, don’t be foolin’ around with sticking stuff in your vagina if you’ve been diagnosed with placenta previa but hopefully, whoever diagnosed you with it has already given you a heads up on that one.

 

Red raspberry leaf tea:

It sounds like red raspberry leaf tea doesn’t kick start labour as much as it tones your uterus for it. I also found when I was researching herbal tea, the people that seemed to know what they were talking about recommended it throughout pregnancy and it was the conservative, mainstream sites that told you to stay away from it because it can induce labour.

I drank a swimming pool worth of this stuff when I was trying to go into labour with my first son and it didn’t work. Although, I had a really fast recovery which one of the things this stuff is supposed to help with so maybe it did do the job.

 

Black and Blue Cohosh:

Blue cohosh (papoose root) and black cohosh (snakeroot) are roots from two separate plants. It’s recommended that cohosh only be used with the assistance of a trained health care provider like a midwife. I mean it’s called “snakeroot” for christssake, you just know this shit isn’t playing around.

 

Castor oil:

Let’s see, the theory behind this one is that consuming castor oil causes diarrhea and the cramps from the diarrhea cause sympathetic cramping in your uterus. You know, because labour isn’t challenging enough without adding an assplosion to it.

 

Eating Certain Foods:

There’s no science behind this one but I can certainly get behind this one more than castor oil (at least if you end up on the toilet, you had a good time getting there). There are pizzas, eggplant parmesans and pasta sauces that all claim to start labour. Most of them contain basil and oregano, both of which have properties that are thought to start labour although, they don’t sound like no snakeroot.

Spicy foods and licorice are also thought to be a bit of a bowel irritant which, not unlike castor oil, might cause sympathy cramping from your uterus. Just remember that whatever you are eating, somebody is going to be on the receiving end of this labour so unless you’re going to do a field squat after your long walk (see “walking”), be considerate of your baby catcher. Just sayin’.

 

Accupressure:

This is based on the same ideas as acupuncture but uses finger pressure instead of needles. Ideally you get somebody that knows where all the “buttons” are but I did find a ton of stuff where they showed you how to do it yourself. It’s non-invasive and there are a lot of people that swear by it so I’ve included just one of the gabillion youtube videos that show you what accupressure is all about.

There you have it. Almost all of these remedies have people that swear they work but let me know if you’ve heard of anything else that worked for you or someone you know.

My suggestion is to stand at a corner of a busy intersection and scream “get this fucking kid out of me!” until somebody helps you out. You’re bound to come across somebody that knows what they are doing and/or possibly has a pocket full of snakeroot. Hissssssss.

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56 Comments

  • Freaked myself out a little because mangoes are my number one craving and I’m only at 30 weeks. Season’s changing so maybe they’ll stop being so delicious and I can stop eating 3-4 per day.

  • If this baby ain’t out by mid-July, I’m going with 11) Full set of highland bagpipes played A LOT. Word around the bagpipe forums from pregnant pipers is that it could induce labor.

  • I took evening primrose oil pills at 37 weeks. I drank 3-4 cups red raspberry leaf tea starting at 38 weeks. Ate pineapple daily at 39 weeks. Did acupuncture at 39+40 weeks. I think the acupuncture and inserting evening primrose oil pills did the trick.

  • I went into pregnancy saying I would definitely not do any of this business expecting it to work. One week before I was due, my husband’s coworker and MNU nurse told me that she whipped out her breast pump (with the idea that it would spark some oxytocin action) and it put her in labor. I thought, "What the heck. I’m bored. Let’s give this a go." 15 minutes of that and I was in labor too.

  • With my first child I had read about the Pilates/yoga ball thing and thought "what the hell, why not". It was comfortable and I bounced for about an hour and a half during a Burn Notice marathon. I got up to go to bed at 1:30 am. Nope, off to the hospital. My water had broken when I stood to go to bed. So I guess the moral of the story is be mindful of WHEN you decide to try these things ☺️

  • I was 41w+4d… Tried acupuncture (once, the lady went out of town when I would have had my 2nd and 3rd sessions), climbing stairs, squats, you name it. On the night I went into labor I had super spicy hot wings and fell asleep to the hypnosis track "Baby Come Out!" — but what I think what truly did it was my doctor moving my induction date back so I finally just relaxed! But I am sure the wings didn’t hurt …until transition, of course.

  • Castor oil is not a good idea if you are very overdue. I had seen a story of a poor mother who was at 42 weeks and had taken it to start things along. It had worked for her but at a cost. Not only did she feel the bowl movement effects, but her baby did too. Child passed meconium into the placenta and inhaled it. Poor boy contracted an infection from meconium inhalation and died two days after he was born. Mom now has to live with the consequences of trying to start her labor using that method. Made me glad that that was one of the things I decided not to try when I was overdue with my first.

  • Nice ,the wifes taking these all on board hope we get to hospital on time not to to early or too late just nicely on time ,i sound like goldilocks lol

  • My midwife said the latest research suggests that evening primrose oil might make your waters break but not necessarily go into contractions. If you don’t go into labor w.in 24 hours, they usually induce you. Which is not great. So talk to someone in the medical field before you try that one!

  • Fenugreek is said to cause contractions and should not be taken during pregnancy because it can cause labor.

  • Just want to say that I love the last paragraph the most. I really do want to stand on the street corner and scream until someone does something to help me out. Thanks for a good laugh because I needed it.

  • I am a couple days away from 39 weeks and am so ready to have this baby. I think I will be checking into trying some of these soon. I am hoping she will come within the next week, but she is already stubborn so she will do what she wants!

  • The spicy ranch dressing from Carlos O’Kelly’s did the trick for me with both my children. I never tried going into labor early though until this third baby, I can’t sleep at night because it hurts me too much to even just touch the bed and food has lost it’s taste and I have no appetite. Good luck!

  • Ladies, please be careful what you try. Some methods like nipple stimulation and others can cause the uterus to contract powerfully and for long periods and should only be done under the direct supervision of your doctor or midwife. You don’t know that your baby can tolerate those contractions that don’t happen naturally or are too strong or too long. Just be careful and use common sense.

  • Oh good, all the acupressure points are at the feet, which I can’t reach right now :/ or maybe that’s how the labor gets induced? You’re trying so hard to reach that the baby gets squeezed out?

  • Regarding Blue/Black Cohosh
    A Doula is not a trained Healthcare provider and should NOT be administering or recommending any herbal or medical supplements that isn’t approved and oversighted by a midwife/OB. A Doula is not midwife, that is a common misconception.

    Good post though 🙂

  • laughing worked for me, i was at a girly night in spent all nightlaughing woke up next morning at 38+5 with contractions, had him at 38+6 im convinced thats what set me off 🙂 x

  • painting helps it worked for me with one of my sons.. i pained a whole room and maybe 2hrs later i was in labor..

  • I tried everything and my DD was still 10 days late and had to be *ahem* encouraged with induction. I walked for miles around lakes and through malls, walked up and down steep hills with my dog, mopped the floor on my hands and knees (never did that again), we tried sex, logistically it was not happening, I did Dance Central for Kinect (and beat quite a few non preggo persons), I ate spicy foods, I got a 60 min foot massage on all the labor inducing points (felt awesome, didnt work), I ate super rich chocolate cake. I nixed the castor oil, a friend told me it did work, but the stomach pains and assplosion as PC so delicately put it were not worth it. Now once my induction started I had baby approx 5 hours later, so perhaps there were some super speedy labor side effects that were quite nice!

  • I was 2.5wks overdue and finally started to get very mild and irregular contractions. I phoned the "Accumammas" (true story! that's their name!) and a registered accupuncturist came over to our house and stuck some needles in me. In less than 30min my contractions were regular and progressively getting more intense. I was in the hospital and 8cm dialated less than 2 hours later!

    We won't mention how long after that I actually had my baby. That's neither here nore there 😉

  • I can confirm 3 of these! Or at least 2 of these. Nipple simulation during sex broke my water. But the contractions didn't keep going, so the next morning the midwife told me to take castor oil. By a little later that day i was definitely in labor.

  • olive oil! Not sure if that's why my son came, but I went from we're-going-to-have-to-induce this week to being in labor in less than a day and a half!

    Around here, overdue pregnant women go to our local cupcake shop and get lemon drop cupcakes..

  • im 39 weeks pregnant and have been contracting for a week now but they are only 12 min. apart so ive been trying walking eating lemon cakes swinging castrol oil and this lady at walmart told me an old aisien thing is to drink raw eggs and coke togeather then keep drinking coke untill you go into labor she said she did it and she went into labor 30 min. after so im about to try that hopfully one of these will work or maybe since im doin them all togeather they will really work quick

  • I was a week and a half overdue with my son, and my nesting instinct told me that I should move all the books from one bookshelf to the other bookshelf on the other side of the house. Of course, the books I was moving were on the bottom shelf, so I was doing a lot of deep squatting. This was sometime during the day after I saw my OB/GYN who told me I should be fine to wait through the weekend to be induced on Monday, so he could go to Vegas over the weekend. I ended up going into labor that night around 2 am and giving birth around 5:30 pm the next day.

  • Okay, I needed to share this with my favorite Chicken. I hope you get it.

    My due date was yesterday…
    My mother in law posted on a thread of comments on my page some advice to jump-start labor. Because apparently its very important to her the baby is born on Valentines day…

    Her advice:
    White Wine
    A long walk
    Fresh fruit (wait for it…)
    Mineral oil
    Laxatives,
    then Sex.

    This is on my facebook page. From my mother in law. I really don't know how to process this. I can also say how sexy doin' it after all those laxatives sounds…

    This really just needs to be shared. Haha

  • Castor oil works (at least it worked for me at 41 1/2 weeks)! But be sure to drink a lot of water so you don't dehydrate yourself and the baby.

  • I'm now 40.5 weeks and so far I've eated 2 pineapple (since "friends" keep bringing them on as a joke) walked at least one hour a day, had sex every day and used the song "jump around" as my morning starter. None has worked…

    You know what would be lovely? Being able to start your labour laughing your ass off, like with this blog, which is the way I use it. That's right: I'm reaserching for proof of a new method by laugh inducement. Might help the universe and tons of nervous over-due women 🙂

    Keep provide material! I'm pretty close by now!

    Gen

  • After a bad chest infection, I thought about taking Fenugreek to help loosen up the mucous. I did some research and found out it's not to be used early in pregnancy as Fenugreek is meant to stimulate uterine contractions. Now there's an idea for much later down the track!

  • Tears…rolling.down.my.face… cant.breathe….

    I think this post may make me go into labor from laughing so hard. Remind me to re-read it in 3.5mo!!

  • Laughing my ass off over here. Honestly, I didnt try any of these, but I do have a tip. I went into labor 2 and a half weeks early and had a really easy 5 hr labor with no tears/no problems. My trick? My doctor swept my membranes. Went from 1cm dilated to holding my daughter in my arms within 5 hours. He was just doing my typical exam, and said, "Take a deep breath." I did, and it was pretty uncomfortable, but it worked like a charm! Trying to convince him to do it again this time. 🙂

  • I didn't do the castor oil or the herbs, but I tried all of the rest with 3 of 4 my pregnancies… nothing! Not a bit of help!! Those 3 babies all had to be medically induced. (The other baby came on his own at 36 weeks… for none of the reasons above!)

  • My mom drank castor oil when she was pregnant with me and was at the hospital an hour and a half later in full on labour.

    She did say it was the most disgusting thing ever and she kept burping up the most horendous fish taste in her mouth.

  • Alright, I did all of these with the exception of castor oil and accupressure. My results were mixed. Did I go into labor? No. Did I dilate to four and a half and stay that way for nearly a week before labor started? Yes. One thing I will say, is that I think the evening primrose oil did indeed help me get loose down below and in the end, my midwife said that was a good thing. I am not sure if it was or not, because let's face it, I was in labor at that point and didn't care! Now that I am preggo with my second bundle, I think I will just let nature decide when the baby is due and not exert myself doing silly things like bouncing on a ball for hours while shoveling in the pineapple and drinking gallons of tea at a time!

  • Hmm…I'm a little worried now about my ridiculous pineapple cravings. I have sat down and eaten 1/2 a fresh pineapple…a couple of times already this pregnancy. Fortunately, seeing as I'm only 21 weeks, it didn't send me into labor!

  • I spent a couple of hours shopping for groceries one day when 38 weeks pregnant. After I got home, I decided to take a nap. One hour or so later, I started to get up out of bed and !whoosh! I thought I pee'd my pants, but it turned out to be my water breaking. Walking for a couple of hours seemed to have done the trick!

  • S-E-X ladies. My water broke less than 10 minutes after my husband and I attempted this method, so I definitely recommend it. A bit of a logistical challenge at 40 weeks, yes. But slightly more appealing than castor oil. Of course now my husband thinks his penis has magical labor inducing qualities, but that's another story.

  • OMG I think I just peed my pants, laughing at this (or maybe my water just broke, IDK). Thank you for the giggles! I'm 39 wks tomorrow — COME ON, CHILD, LET'S DO THIS ALREADY. I've tried a couple things here or there, but know in the back of my mind that he needs to be in there as long as possible so I haven't been too aggressive. But you know, if my walking around happens to jumpstart him, well, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. 😀

    Stairs two at a time? Are you kidding?! I just checked the mail and was winded!

  • Ahhh, and I swore that eating half a pineapple cake is what brought on my labor 8 days early!!!

    Thanks for the hilarious read, needed a good laugh and it was fun to reminisce about those days!

  • My favorite suggestion–from a father of 8–was Jack and Coke. I tried that numerous times with no success. Finally, I decided it was mental because when my husband said, "But are you really going to have a the baby because I don't want to have to come back tomorrow and tell people if you didn't?" my labor stopped. And when I walked into L and D 2 weeks later for a routine NST at 41 and 1 and my wonderful midwife was sitting there grinning at me, I had the baby in 50 min. You have to WANT it!

  • At 35 weeks I'm really super ready to be done, its not that I don't love being an apartment for another little person…its just that I think he's been partying pretty hard and its going to be a long clean up process.
    I'll be keeping some of these in mind. 🙂

    I think I'll start gently at week 38… like with pineapple… lol, then maybe I'll be the only woman in my family not to hang on to lil' raver til week 42… Hope springs eternal!

  • Oh my gosh, my daughter is 13 months old now, but I remember this stage of pregnancy so well. I did so much walking and I drank castor oil, which is the worst tasting thing in the world and it just stays with you for the longest time. Nothing worked – my daughter came in her own sweet time 10 days late.

  • Just remember that whatever you are eating, somebody is going to be on the receiving end of this labour so unless you're going to do a field squat after your long walk (see "walking"), be considerate of your baby catcher. Just sayin'.
    ————————————————-
    That's the best advice I've heard all year 🙂

  • I was 42 weeks over due and didnt want to pay for all extra ultrasound and all the other test they want you to do when your that over due, so I decided that even though I am a procrastinator by nature and could of put off having the baby FOREVER, I posted my goal on Facebook…of course!
    I was given all kinds of useless and what they thought was "whitty" advise but one friend told me to take two evening primrose capsules ( which I had been puttin in my vag. for a month now!) and poke a hole in them and then apply to my hubbys penis and have sex! She promised it would be the LAST time we did that for a while, and she was right! I started those tollerable contractions that make you think " oh, I got this!" in less than 8 hours!
    After that I had 32 hours of long hard labor, so do fool yourself into thinking that this method will make labor "tolerable"…it wont, it will just get it going.
    DONT DO THIS IF YOUR LESS THAN 40 WEEK….PSYCHO! You may be sick of it but your baby needs all its time in your tummy.

    • This was probably posted years ago, but for anyone reading in the future I wanted to say that I did this trick at 40w4d and it worked – my water broke about 8 hours later! Now, my cervix still didn’t want to dilate so I ended up with a c-section anyway (was going for a VBAC), but it certainly got things going.

  • Just a word of caution. A) Doulas are not trained medical personnel. (I was a doula x 10yrs) B) Blue/Black Cohosh are both serious stuff & shouldn't be managed by anyone who is not highly experienced/trained in herbal medicine. I'm a smart cookie, but I know I wouldn't be qualified to do so–even as a board certified Nurse-Midwife in the U.S.

  • I have 5 weeks to go and will be doing none of the above… I am scared to go into labour because I am in QLD, Aus and can't get to hopspital due to the floods. Stay in little babyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!

  • With less than six weeks to go until this baby is due, I will definitely be trying some of these. I'm hoping since it's babe number 3, all just goes well and quick. But, if not, then the sex option sounds a lot more feasible (although not much more) than walking up two stairs at a time. That said, I'm not sure how sex will occur at an arms length away. Hmmm…

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