The calculated date of birth has passed, and the baby apparently still finds it so comfortable in your womb that nothing happens? I know the feeling momma. With my firstborn I went 9 days over my due date and I was desperate to finally hold my baby in my arms. I totally understand. If you are looking for tips on how to induce your labor naturally, I hope you find some inspiration here.
Fact is, that around 10% of all pregnancies last up to two weeks beyond the calculated due date, that is up to 41 to 42 weeks of pregnancy. First, it is important to know that after all, everything you will try out can only trigger your labor if the baby is ready for birth. No matter all the encouragement and effort, if your little one has not yet sent any signals (hormones) to your body that he or she is ready to meet you, then most likely it won’t work.
According to a survey from nationalpartnership.org in 2013 around 30% of pregnant moms try to induce their labor at home. I am sure that number has stayed or even increased ever since. Being tired of being pregnant or wanting to avoid a medical induction are two of the main reasons stated.
If you are in one or the other situation please only apply these tips if you are already 40 weeks pregnant and feel ready for the birth. Don’t try to entice your baby before the due date, every day in your womb is important for the health of your little one. It is also important to ensure first that your baby is in the correct birth position (head down) and you yourself feel healthy and fit.
And be patient. Whilst some of the tips take just a few hours to take effect, others might take a day (or even two). It is therefore advisable not to try out several methods at the same time, but to wait and see whether one or the other has led to the goal, i.e. to the contractions.
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Ways to go into labor tonight
Disclaimer: When trying out these tips at home, please stay in close contact with your midwife or doctor. They can give you professional advice and will know if and when it is necessary to check your baby and triggered contractions with a ctg (cardiotocography).
One of the most effective triggers for labor is having sexual intercourse. In addition to the physical stimulation and your own peak, the sperm also plays an important role.
Firstly, the hormone oxytocin is released in your body when you reach the climax. This hormone is especially effective when you already have light contractions to give them a little boost.
Secondly, the hormone prostaglandin is found in the sperm. Prostaglandin softens the cervix and can help it opening for birth.
So, take some time with your partner, relax and just enjoy intimacy. After all, if it doesn’t induce your labor yet, you surely won’t regret having given it a try.
Important: Avoid sexual intercourse if your water already broke. In this case sex could cause an infection.
2. Abdominal massage
This tip is very easy to try out at home. It is ideal if you can ask your partner to perform the massage. An abdominal massage can often be a little miracle if you want to get your contractions going.
Lie comfortably on your back and support your legs in the back of your knees with a pillow so that they are a bit curved. You may also want to raise your back/chest a little bit. If you absolutely can’t comfortably lie down on your back, you can also try sideways instead. Just make sure you are in a position where you can fully relax.
Use a natural oil such as almond oil or your stretch marks oil for a massage. You can also add a subtle scent of herbs and plants to the oil. One of those which are known to cause contractions because they stimulate the muscular activity of the uterus (i.e. cinnamon oil, clove oil, or ginger oil).
For the ideal blend, take 10 ml of almond oil and two teaspoons of one of the fragrance oils.
Now massage (or your partner) your stomach gently with circular movements. It is ideal if you massage clockwise, that also stimulates digestion.
With this method you might have to be a bit patient to see an outcome. Usually you can see an effect within one to two days.
Exercise is especially helpful if you already have light contractions and want to continue to induce your labor contractions. You can go for a long walk, climb stairs or do some curb walking. Make sure that you don’t exhaust yourself in the process! You will still need your strength for the actual birth. You should only move so much that you don’t get out of breath. As soon as you no longer feel comfortable, it is too much.
Swaying movements of the body, such as those that occur during a walk or gentle pelvic circles on a birthing ball also help your baby to slide deeper into the pelvis with the head.
Once your baby is in the birth position, the head presses against the cervix. This stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin, which ultimately helps to boost contractions. In this sense, movement can indirectly support the beginning of birth.
4. Warm bath
Combine relaxation with stimulation of contractions. Treat yourself to a relaxing bath and add a nice bathing oil to the water. In addition to the relaxing effects that warmth has on your body, contractions could also be triggered that way.
Get some nice music on in the bathroom, put up a few candles and enjoy a warm (but not too hot!) bath. Make sure you are not home alone when trying this. You may experience circulatory problems in the warm water and become a bit dizzy. Or the actual contractions could start. Then it is important that you have somebody by your side.
As a bath additive, you can use herbs that help trigger contractions such as cinnamon, clove, ginger, eucalyptus, verbena, cedarwood, hyssop or rosemary. Be careful with bath oils though: the bath tub can become very slippery.
Btw, when you already have light contractions going, you can always “check” with a warm bath if they are the real deal. If the contractions become weaker in the warm water, most likely you are not in active labor yet. If the contractions remain and become stronger, they are real labor contractions and you can be assured to meet your baby soon.
5. A cup of tea
You can also make a spiced tea with different other herbs: For one liter you need one stick of cinnamon, ten cloves, one small piece of ginger root and one tablespoon of verbena. Brew everything, let it steep for 10 minutes and drink two to three cups a day.
6. Spicy food
Go out and enjoy a meal at a Mexican, Indian or Thai restaurant with your partner or buy yourself some cayenne pepper to cook with.
Spicy food has the effect of stimulating your intestines. The uterus and intestines are very close to each other in your body, so if your intestines start moving a lot, it might trigger contractions to follow.
Maybe you will go straight from the banquet to the hospital 😉 and if not, then you have certainly had a wonderful evening out with your partner or enjoyed a nice meal at home.
7. Tampon with clove oil
Clove oil down there allows the cervix to soften and makes it prepared for childbirth. In addition, clove oil does loosen the tissues and muscles around the uterus.
With this tip I highly recommend you talking to your midwife first and let her know, that you would like to try it out. That way she is aware ahead of time and can be on-call if you need her to check on you.
Be aware that the tampon is not dipped in the pure clove oil, but the oil needs to be diluted with water beforehand. A mixture of 30 ml water and 50 drops clove oil are ideal.
Important: For some people clove oil can cause an allergic reaction on the skin. So, first test on your hand whether you tolerate the mixture well or not. If you start feeling a burning sensation or red spots are forming, wash your hand well and leave this tip out. If nothing happens, you can go ahead and try the tampon.
Put five to six drops of the mixture on the tampon and insert it. Again, if your skin starts to burn at this point now, you should remove it immediately. Otherwise leave it in and repeat the application after 6 hours if you want.
Again, I would like to mention here that clove oil is a powerful disinfectant. It must be dosed low, otherwise it can be dangerous. Internal use in high doses could also cause lasting damage to the liver tissue. Therefore, it is important you consult your midwife or doctor when carrying out this tip.
8. Nipple stimulation
According to official studies, women are more likely to go into labor within three days when their nipples are being stimulated. However, I must also mention, that with this trigger too, it only works when the cervix is already ready. The stimulation could induce your labor contractions within an hour to within 72 hours.
When stimulated in this sensitive area, your body will produce the hormone oxytocin. It is the same hormone that is produced by the female body when having sex. Oxytocin causes a contraction of the uterine muscles and that triggers the contractions. (Btw: It will also be triggered later on during breastfeeding, which will help your uterus to contract after birth and shrink back to its original size.)
Create a relaxed environment and involve your partner if you want to. For a light stimulation, massage your nipples gently for 60 seconds. Pause for 60 seconds and then continue again. Pay attention to your body so that you can find your own rhythm and try to enjoy it.
9. The Midwives Brew
The last tip is the popular labor brew. The mixture is usually enriched with castor oil, which stimulates the intestines and through that might trigger labor. The drink should only be prepared together with a midwife or doctor and taken under their supervision. Be aware about possible side effects before taking it. It is a bit controversial whether it is smart or not to weaken the body with such a strong laxative before giving birth. Worst case it can cause immediate, intense contractions with no effect on your cervix but great pain for you and unnecessary stress for the baby. Best case it causes your intestines to move a lot which causes the uterus to start contracting and you go in labor. Check out more details about the Midwives Brew here.
That was it: 9 ways to go into labor overnight
Now, if you have reached your due date and would like to become a bit active to trigger some labor contractions, I hope you are inspired by one or the other tip. Try it out and see what works for you.
In the process make sure you don’t overwhelm your body. Don’t combine too many of the tips. Of course, you can do intercourse and nipple stimulation together. However, tea, spicy food and a clove oil tampon should not all be tried out on the same day. Give yourself and your baby the time that you still need and make sure you will be ready and not exhausted when the time has come to give birth.
My personal experience trying to induce labor overnight
Personally, I had tried out most of the mentioned tips when I went over due date with my first baby. Unfortunately, I am not a success story of any of them. Nothing seemed to have worked for me. It just taught me, that my little boy obviously needed some more time and I needed to grow in patience.
At the end, it was actually my husband’s amazing homemade pancakes which caused the little one to finally want to come out.
So, if nothing seems to get your contractions going, don’t stress about it. Your little baby might need a couple extra days and you might be able to take a good last bit of peaceful rest before you give birth. Try to relax and let your partner spoil you if possible. You have been growing this little human for more than 9 months by now, you deserve some comfort and love.
And hold on, momma! Very soon you will hold your baby in your arms and the joy will be greater than you can imagine right now! And who knows, maybe that peace of mind will get your contractions going at the end of the day.
In the meantime, get ready for your baby and find helpful information and tips in this blog post for the first few weeks at home with your newborn.
Or if you still want to read more about ways of going into labor naturally or medically, Monica from conqueringmotherhood.com has a great blog post about it too.