What Science Says About These 4 Labor Inducing Remedies And Why You Should or Shouldn’t Try Them 

 July 30, 2020

By  Laura Mikkelsen

The finish line is so close. You are in your last week of pregnancy or already past your due date. Every day you wake up, hoping today will be THE day. Yet, there are no noticeable signs that your baby is about to take action.

It can be nerve-wracking to stay patient while you are waiting. On one hand, you want to stay at home to be sure your water doesn’t break while you are sitting in a café with friends or getting a manicure in your favorite spa. On the other hand, you are seeking distraction because sitting on the couch reading your books all day nearly drives you crazy.

Staying zen like a monk in the last couple of weeks of your pregnancy is no easy feat.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that in a 2011 study of 201 women who recently delivered, 50.7% tried to induce labor naturally using some type of nonprescribed method.

After 9 months of pregnancy, it’s common that the aches and pains become unbearable and all you are looking for is to finally hold that precious gift in your arms.

But how likely is it that natural remedies really help to move things along?

Is it a myth or truth that sex can help? And what about spicy food and spooning down castor oil?

Let’s have a look at these 5 natural tools to induce labor and see what science says about their effectiveness. Find out what’s worth trying and what might even harm your baby. 

1. Castor Oil: Will a Shot of Bad Tasting Vegetable Oil Do The Trick?

Castor Oil, also known as Oleum Palmae Christi, is one of the most popular and oldest natural remedies used to induce labor since Egyptians times.

Research has shown that ingesting small amounts of castor oil (1-2 ounces) stimulates prostaglandin release, a group of hormones that play a role in the ripening of the cervix.

In a study conducted at in Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in 2004, researchers found that 54.2 % of those who took castor oil had started labor within 24 hours. From the ones who didn’t rake castor oil only 4.3% went into labor.

On the other hand, there are other studies that don’t show any correlation between castor oil and the probability of labor initiation.

Yet, it’s important to know that there are uncomfortable, but no harmful side effects associated with the thick vegetable oil. Castor oil is a laxative which means it affects the intestines and can cause diarrhea and nausea. In fact, a 2013 study shows that all women who took castor oil by mouth felt nauseous afterward. 

To avoid dehydration and other risks, it’s recommended that castor oil is only taken under the supervision of a midwife or doctor.

Personally I’m not sure if it’s worth trying the yucky tasting tradition.

2. The Scientific Truth About The Old Wive’s Sex Tale

Either your libido is growing along with your belly or sex is the last thing on your mind. Both are completely normal and it’s one of the few pregnancy symptoms that ebbs and flows along the way.

But no matter how you feel right now, you’ve probably stumbled across the belief that sex can induce labor. 

There are different theories and studies on why making love speeds up labor. The most profound proof comes from a 2014 study by the Kashan University of Medical Sciences. Scientists discovered the link between a hormone called prostaglandin and the softening of the cervix for labor. Semen contains the most concentrated form of prostaglandin and can help to onset labor.

Besides that, the female orgasm is proven to stimulate your womb and spur contractions.

But no matter if sex will induce labor or not, if you are healthy then there is no risk in enjoying some intimate moments with your loved one before your baby arrives.

And who knows when you and your spouse will get the time for some romance once the baby arrives?! 

It’s important to keep the love alive and maintain a strong relationship even if both of you are baby-crazy. 

...and don’t worry. It’s impossible that your partner’s penis will poke your baby in the head.

3. Fact or Folklore: Can Pineapple, Tacos, And Dates Get Things Moving?

The food myths go from eating 7 pineapples to consuming 6 dates a day and putting some extra chilly peppers in your tacos. But do certain foods really help to kick start labor or do they just mess with your intestines?

While there is a long list of foods passed down over generations to help with the birthing process, doctors are less likely to recommend any of them in high doses. Most of the common foods and drinks that are supposed to induce labor won’t bring on more than gastrointestinal distress or diarrhea because of their intense laxative effects. 

Be aware that overdosing on these foods could cause serious discomfort and dehydration - something none of us wish for. 

I completely understand how impatient you are right now, but don’t take any unnecessary risks because you can’t wait anymore. 

Someone told me once “Your baby won’t be stuck in your womb. Eventually, your little one needs to come out.”

Back then, I thought it was a bad joke, but now I know my friend was right and somehow it helped me to stay calm while I was already 10 days past my due date. 

I just knew sooner or later I WOULD finally meet my baby. 

Yet, there is nothing wrong with some exercises that might have labor-inducing side effects, which brings us to #4 -MY FAVORITE.

4. How Many Squats Do I Need to Do Before Meeting My Baby?

Walking stairs, biking, swimming, squatting... There is a long list of recommended exercises to stimulate labor. And even though science hasn’t proved that 100 squats or walking 42 city blocks induces labor, research shows that exercise helps your baby to find the right position in the birth canal so they’re ready to be shot out like a cannonball.

Since there are no particular exercises that are more or less likely to work, I highly recommend listening to your body and do whatever type of exercise you enjoy the most.

You don’t need to suddenly hang out in downward-facing dogs and move through cat-cow positions if yoga is not your thing. Neither do you need to start hitting the gym if you hate to lift weights in a closed space. 

Make sure you pace yourself appropriately and don’t start surfing, rock climbing, handstands, or any other extreme activity if you haven’t done it before being pregnant. 

The general rule is, you should be comfortable, familiar with the movement, and able to carry on a conversation while you’re exercising.

5. The Only Tip That Really Works

Get ready. You might hate me after telling you this, but eventually, the only thing you can do is…


But maybe it helps if you see this period as only one of the million times when your patience will be tested as a mom. If you master this one, you are completely ready for motherhood.

The good news is only about 5 out of 100 women are medically overdue which means contractions start more than 2 weeks past their due date. In that case, your obstetric provider will discuss medical induction options with you. 

Yet, I completely understand that no one enjoys sitting on the couch watching out for any sign that the big day has arrived.

You should go out and enjoy the last precious moments of alone time. If you are scared to leave the house because you don’t want to have a “we need a bucket and a mop in aisle eight” water breaking experience, be assured that this is mostly an experience reserved for Hollywood movies, not reality. 

Only 8%-10% of women experience water breaking before they go into labor and from that small percentage, it’s even more unlikely that you’ll have a nightmare scenario in your supermarket’s checkout line.

Even though science hasn’t proven that a workout induces labor, it has been proven that certain movements can help to get your child in the ideal birth position.

The right birth position tremendously reduces the risks of complications, emergency c-sections and vaginal tearing.

This is why I asked my yoga teacher to create a pregnancy safe, 20-minute yoga routine for me with movements that are proven to help the baby move in the perfect birthing position.

Click here and get my special prenatal yoga routine for easier labor and a safer delivery for FREE.

Laura Mikkelsen

Laura Mikkelsen is a passionate writer, a mindful yoga teacher, a dedicated artist and a loving mom. After her studies, she decided to make the world her home. She sold her belongings and started traveling the world. Living in more than 12 countries gave her a wide perspective on parenting and conscious living. With her blog posts, Laura wants to empower other women to embrace natural pregnancy and conscious parenting.

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