Natural Induction Methods

It goes without saying that natural induction methods are preferable to medical ones.  Failed medical induction is the number one cause for the increase rate of cesarean in this country, so why not give Mother Nature a little hand….

Here some ideas I have borrowed from experts, midwives, childbirth educators, doulas, and the ancient tradition of midwifery. You will find many similar articles on the web and aside from a few small differences most natural methods are very similar.

  • Relaxation techniques. Babies know when you are relaxed and sensed it is a good time to come.  A mother who is frightened and stressed out may go passed her due date because her baby might decide that it is not yet safe to come out.  One of the reason why many labors start at night is because mom is finally relaxed and baby gets excited about coming into this world.  Use visual imagery like you can get from our Natural Induction CD . But if you are truly stressed out I know a good cry relieves tension,  so get a real tearjerker movie and let it reap.  Tears are sacred and I have heard of women going into labor after a good cry. The most important thing to do is to find a way to relieve tension. Tension works against labor. Relieve it, let everything go, and you may be surprised to find yourself in labor.
  • Visualization. Get quiet and relaxed, and imagine your uterus contracting as well as the process of labor. Hypnosis or self-hypnosis has been known to really do wonders with this one.
  • Sex is the most ancient and one of the best methods to inducing labor, the Prostaglandin in semen softens the cervix and your orgasm has the ability to open up the cervix. If penetration is difficult at least make yourself have an orgasm, it is relaxing and it bring love into the equation.  I know some of my clients simply do not feel like having sex in the last month of their pregnancy, but it beats a cesarean and medical induction.  It will not harm the baby, and if you can find a comfortable position female orgasm can open the cervix of 2cm. WOW .  If you really are not in the mood try using his sperm by inserting it in your vagina as close to the cervix as you can.
  • Nipple stimulation also works wonders according to  Maternity Nursing: Family, Newborn, and Women’s Health Care by Reeder, Martin and Koniak-Griffin  uterine hyper stimulation may be avoided by following this protocol:

-roll nipples between thumb and forefingers for 2 minutes
-rest for 3 minutes
-repeat rolling/resting for 20 minutes*
-increase rolling to 3 minutes and decrease resting to 2 minutes for 20 minutes if inadequate contractions occur after initial 20 minutes.

  • Exercise- Walking, swinging in a swing and general exercise helps stimulate contractions and helps the baby slide down and engage.
  • A bumpy car ride may sound like an old wives tale, but if the baby is not in a good position, sitting and relaxing while being moved by the car through bumps can work.
  • Pineapple. I just found out about this one, and I love pineapple. If it doesn’t give you heartburn, eating lots of pineapple is reputed to begin labor and ripen the cervix.  I assume it has to do with the enzyme found in Pineapple
  • Cumin Tea. This is used by midwives in Latino cultures. Traditionally, a raw cube of potato is added to the tea, it absorbs the bitterness of the cumin.  You can add sugar to this one or honey.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf Tea This tea it is used as a tonic to strengthen the uterine walls. The best way to make a good cup of tea is by the infusion method. Place one tea bag in a cup and add no more than 6 oz. of boiling water. Let steep for 3 minutes. Press the bag before removing to enhance the flavor.
  • Evening primrose oil. This oil is an excellent source of prostalgin which can help soften the cervix.  You can either use internally, by placing a few capsules directly near the source or you can ingest it. As with all these methods please speak to your care provider before using any or all of these methods.

Acupuncture and acupressure have been by far the most successful natural induction methods I have seen. A strong foot massage especially concentrating on the following three points can do wonders.  Once I teach this massage technique to the partners and they practice it nightly,  labor starts within the week (after the 40th week of gestation.) Using this massage also helps get mom and partner together as they practice managing the contractions.  The idea is to hold the acupressure spot one minute at the time  as you help her breathe and rehearse surfing the contraction waves.

Connie Livingston from explains very well how to find three good points for this  induction massage:

hokuHoku massage
Hoku (Large intestine 6): located deep in the webbing between either hand’s thumb and forefinger; in between the 1st and 2nd metacarpal bones. Stimulation of this point has been know to begin labor, enhance contractions during labor and in non-pregnant females, bring on menstruation several days early. Also may relieve pain from migraine.

IMG00129Chih-yin massage
Chih-yin (Bladder 67): located approximately 1/10″ behind the lateral corner of the smallest toe’s nail of either foot. Stimulation of this point has been known to relieve labor pains and migraine discomfort.

IMG00128San-yin-chiao (Spleen 6): placing your left hand on your right leg with your pinkie finger just above the interior ankle bone, the lateral tibia is located just under where your index finger lies. You may utilize both points simultaneously by placing a thumb on each point as shown.


Additionally This is LIV 3 Tai-chong (English translation = Great Surge) is a point on the top of the foot in the webbing between the big toe and the second toe.  This point it is often massaged to relieved constipation, or menstrual cramps but it does work well for induction .

Before a scheduled induction and if you need to get a bit more aggressive let’s say past your due date here are some herbs many midwives recommend

DO NOT take any of these herbs without first conferring with a midwife, physician, and an herbalist

  • Blue Cohosh Be  careful when it comes to Blue Cohosh, many of the midwives I have worked with use it regularly but I have read that at times there are some negative reactions to this herb.   Blue Cohosh is very effective but I prefer to start with using the homeopathic remedy, which has no risks.  For Blue Cohosh the homeopathic remedy is  –  Caulophyllum for Black Cohosh is Cimifuga racemosa.  Please consult your care provider always before beginning any induction procedure.
  • Castor Oil This is truly the last resort, as it is very uncomfortable to take such a strong laxative and be in labor at the same time.  Yet I have seen it work for many moms, so again consult your midwife and then try it.
  • For a pain and difficult labor some suggests  Ginger root (should not be given within an hour of birth) and Ginseng  which can increase a mom’s energy level . Arnica Montana is a great remedy also in this case which midwives and homepathic doctors reccomend for difficult labors during and after the birth.  For pain,  I suggest chanting and walking and changing the environment, go to another room, take a bath, take a walk, if you can walk outside or even in the hospital corridors. Teas or tinctures  that can help are Motherwort or Skullcap.  Some studies suggest St. John’s Wort  known to help with back and uterine pain which can be used in conjunction with Skullcap for a complete effect.

If all else fail you can:

After 42 weeks, ask your midwife about the Placement of Balloon Dilators. Your care provider will place a balloon inside your cervix and fill it with water.  [The pressure from the balloon will imitate the pressure of the baby’s head and hopefully your cervix will respond by ripening and dilating. Balloon devices provide mechanical pressure directly on the cervix as the balloon is filled.] A Foley catheter (26 Fr) or specifically designed balloon devices can be used. The main advantages of using hygroscopic dilators include outpatient placement and no FHR-monitoring requirements*

I strongly recommend you do not take any of these without speaking to a midwife, herbalist, your doula and your primary care provider.  As you demand that all procedures are explained to you so should you tell your provider of what you are taking and doing to stimulate labor.  many traditional doctors will either tell you that it will not work, that it is an urban legend and some are strongly against castor oil or blue and black Cohosh. So it is your job to get informed and stay away from scare tactics.  I know you can have a wonderful birth and remember your child is also part of the equation some children just don’t feel like coming out the way we want them to.



Painless Childbirth is a Scientific Reality *

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*A study conducted by CL Pasero and R Britt (August 1998). Managing Pain During Labor, published in the American Journal of Nursing 98:10-11, reports that indeed a painless childbirth is a reality for as many as 45,000 WOMEN EACH YEAR IN AMERICA. One of the universal laws states: if one person can do it, it can be done by others.