seal on the beach trying induce labor with "i am so done" thought bubble
3rd Trimester Labor + Delivery Being Pregnant

Ways to Induce Labor (Skip the Castor Oil)

By Amy Morrison

I would like to start this post by saying I tried some of these suggestions to induce labor 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 to get your labor going 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.

Suggestions to Induce Labor:


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 of 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.


Nothing says “Work it, Girl!” 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 induce labor. 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 to 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 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 an “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 induce labor. I supposed it’s worth a shot but, for the love of God, close your curtains.


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 labor. 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 overnight. 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 labor 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 labor.

I drank a swimming pool worth of this stuff when I was trying to go into labor 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. Its safety has also been questioned recently so I would definitely steer clear of this one.

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 labor isn’t challenging enough without adding an assplosion to it. I don’t know, Bud. This one sounds like a hard ‘no’.

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 induce labor. Most of them contain basil and oregano, both of which have properties that are thought to start labor 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 labor so unless you’re going to do a field squat after your long walk (see “walking”), be considerate of your baby catcher. Just sayin’.


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 acupressure 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.

Related: The Best Remedies for After Birth “Exit Care”

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