You are close to – or past – your due date and are ready to have this baby already. Unfortunately, your body does not seem to be cooperating. Can you actually learn how to induce labor naturally? There are few studies that suggest that any non-medical method definitely works, but anecdotal evidence points to several natural methods of inducing labor. Before you attempt any of these, ask your obstetrician or midwife.

 

Acupuncture

How it works: A staple of Eastern medicine that is becoming more common in the West, acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin needles into various pressure points in the body.

 

Known success rate? Some small studies internationally support acupuncture as a natural way to induce labor. One 2006 study from the University of North Carolina found that 70 percent of the women who received three acupuncture sessions went into labor naturally, versus 50 percent of the women who did not participate in acupuncture.

 

Pros: Acupuncture as a natural labor induction technique has the most proven success, and many patients find it helps with multiple health issues.

 

Cons: Could be uncomfortable, especially if you have never had acupuncture before. You also need to find someone certified in the proper techniques.

 

Exercise

How it works: Walking or light cardio could help the baby drop further down into your pelvis, stimulating your cervix.

 

Known success rate? No

 

Pros: Moderate exercise in general is healthy.

 

Cons: If you push too hard or walk too long, you could dangerously exhaust yourself.

 

Nipple Stimulation

How it works: The effect of manual nipple stimulation can be similar to nursing, which causes contractions. After birth, mothers are encouraged to nurse right away because those contractions help stop the bleeding.

 

Known success rate? No

 

Pros: Could help you get used to what nursing will feel like, and “prep” your nipples for the act. Also, this can be done by you or your partner.

 

Cons: Can be uncomfortable, and also can cause longer and more painful contractions.

 

Herbs

How it works: Alternative substances often associated with naturally inducing labor include castor oil, black cohosh, evening primrose oil and spices in food. Each has a different effect — and potential side effects — and therefore should only be taken if your physician or midwife approves.

 

Known success rate? No, but many midwives and others who support unmedicated labor and delivery recommend some of these to their patients.

 

Pros: Non-medicinal

 

Cons: Each has some negative side effects, including gastrointestinal problems and headaches.

 

Sex

How it works: If you don’t know, you wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place, right (wink, wink)? Actually, intercourse often is recommended to women at term because semen contains prostaglandins, which stimulate the cervix and also are in the medications used to induce labor.

 

Known success rate? No

 

Pros: Kidding aside, sex is a good way to release tension and strengthen your relationship before “the big day.”

 

Cons: Could prove difficult given your size. But it never hurts to try (wink wink).

 

Know of other ways for how to induce labor naturally? Leave us a note in the comments below.