Bring it on! Naturally encourage labor

We often get asked how to naturally encourage labor to begin and while we understand to meet your little one, they’ll make their appearance when they’re ready.

But here are a few suggestions on how to bring labor on naturally.

*Of course, anything offered here is for information purposes only & should absolutely be discussed with your obstetric care provider before initiating.*

Medjool dates

Are a member of the date family. They have a rich almost caramel-like taste and are soft & chewy in texture when compared to other types of dates. Research shows Medjool dates are effective at ripening the cervix or getting the cervix ready for labor. Research has also shown that pregnant people who consumed Medjool dates had a higher mean cervical dilatation upon admission. They also had a significantly higher proportion of intact membranes. In one study, spontaneous labour occurred in 96% of those who consumed Medjool dates. Research has demonstrated that the use of prostaglandins & oxytocin was significantly lower in persons who consumed dates

The mean latent phase of the first stage of labour was also shorter in women who consumed Medjool dates. Consumption can start at 36 weeks with a total of 10 dates/ day being the target. Anyone with a glycemic disorder – type 1 or 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes should avoid this method due to Medjool dates having high sugar content.

Membrane Sweep

Involves placing a finger just inside your cervix or the neck of the womb and making a circular, sweeping movement to separate the membranes from the cervix. This action releases prostaglandins which work to ripen the cervix or get it ready for labor. The membrane sweep increases the chances of labor starting naturally within the next 48 hours and can reduce the need for other methods of induction of labour.

May cause some slight discomfort, slight bleeding or a ‘show’ and/or tightening of the womb. All are normal, and will not cause any harm to you or your baby.

Sexual intercourse

Semen contains prostaglandins that work to ripen the cervix or get it ready for labor. Experiencing orgasm releases your own endogenous oxytocin which causes uterine contractions.

Evening primrose oil

Evening primrose oil is an extract from the evening primrose seed. In the human body, this extract is converted into prostaglandins which work to ripening the cervix. Evening primrose oil can be purchased in tablets or gel caps. For cervical ripening, gel caps should be purchased. Starting at 37 weeks insert 1 gel cap as far back into the vagina as possible at bedtime. Also, take one 500 mg gel cap 3x’s/ day.

Red raspberry leaf tea

Tones the muscles of your uterus (womb), to help it work more effectively during labour.

Red raspberry leaf tea has also been used to prevent excessive bleeding after childbirth. Consum 3-4 cups in 24hrs starting @ 37 weeks.

Nipple stimulation

You or your partner can manually stimulate your nipples by hand, your partner can orally stimulate your nipples, or you can use a breast pump. Only stimulate one nipple at a time to avoid too many contractions (> 5 contractions in 10 min) or contractions that are too long (> 90secs). Both could be distressing to your baby & harmful to your womb. Using your thumb and forefinger, gently massage the areola, the darker skin around your nipple. This stimulates nerves that trigger the release of oxytocin – makes contractions longer and stronger. Start with your thumb and forefinger at the areola, and gently roll or pull down the nipple. This should cause the nipples to become erect. Continue to stimulate the nipple for no more than 15 minutes. Take a break for 2-4 minutes. Then repeat on your other nipple. Repeat this process for up to an hour. If contractions don’t start, stop and try again later. This can be done up to three times per day. Once you feel contractions begin, stop the stimulation and let your natural labor take over. If the contractions stop, you can use nipple stimulation for 5 minutes per breast to increase them. You should stop stimulating if your contractions are 3 or fewer minutes apart. If your nipples feel sore and tender a natural nipple butter, coconut oil or a few drops of breast milk work well as lubrication.

Acupuncture & acupressure

Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points of the body while acupressure involves using the thumbs or fingers to apply pressure to specific points. Both have been used to help soften and dilate the cervix with the onset of labor contractions.

Again, always consult your obstetric care provider before initiating any new therapy.


If you’re looking for support and advice in preparation for labour, why not give one of our hypnobirthing classes a go, it’s totally FREE!

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