How To Induce Labor: Exercise, Massage, And More

How To Induce Labor: Exercise, Massage, And More

Many expecting mothers and their partners wonder how to induce labor. If your baby is getting too big and your doctor is concerned your newborn will not be able to fit through your birth canal, your specialist may recommend inducing labor. This is especially important if the expecting mother is older and a C-section would be dangerous, should the baby get too big.

 Please note, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine strongly encourage you to speak to your doctor before inducing labor. Today, babies born 39 weeks and 0 days past gestation to 40 weeks and 6 days past gestation are considered full term. Babies born through the 41st week are known as late-term babies, and babies born 42 weeks past gestation or more are known as post-term babies.

In this article, we will discuss simple tips and tricks of how to induce labor. These include light cardiovascular and calisthenic exercises, eating spicy food and other foods that induce labor, chemical induction from EPO, sexual intercourse and much more.

Are You Wondering How To Induce Labor?

Pregnant woman


Wonder no more. You can use gravity to your advantage by exercising when trying to induce labor. Walking gently guides your baby's head lower into your pelvis. This puts pressure on your cervix, causing it to dilate. Try to walk 30 minutes a day. Walking up steep hills puts your body at an even better angle to guide your baby in the right direction. If you don't have any steep hills nearby, try a treadmill. Other great exercises while inducing labor include walking up and down stairs and squats.

 Even if exercise does not work for you, it is a great way to relieve stress and keep you physically fit for the task ahead. Once in labor, expect it to last an average of eight hours but no longer than 18. Your baby will require around one to two hours of pushing once your cervix has dilated to 10cm, so you want to be in great physical condition. So what are you waiting for? Get moving!

Spicy Food

For the most part, foods that induce labor are old wives' tales with no scientific backing. However, some foods do have certain chemical properties that are actually effective in inducing labor. Spicy foods stimulate the colon. This can cause irritated intestines and this cramping can spread to the uterus, inducing labor.

Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain which is known to ripen the cervix, thus inducing labor. Other foods which chemically yet naturally induce labor include basil, oregano and ginger.

If you want to introduce more oxytocin into your life, but to not feel up to having sex to orgasm, eat foods such as eggs with pepper or bananas. Oxytocin has been shown to raise your spirits and induce labor.

Sexual Intercourse

Anyone who has given birth knows they do not feel their sexiest towards the end of their pregnancy. However, sex is clinically shown to prepare the body for labor. This is because semen contains a chemical known as prostaglandins. The more often you have sex before labor, the better this technique will work. However, there are natural herbal supplements if you are not in the mood. Do not engage in sexual intercourse if your water has already broken as this can lead to an infection.

Raspberry Leaf Tea

Who doesn't love a delicious iced tea during the summer or hot tea during the winter? Drink raspberry leaf tea to induce labor as it strengthens and tones your uterine muscles. Strong muscles make labor much easier when the time comes. Enjoy this tea after your birth as well to strengthen your uterus again. While the tea will keep you hydrated, if you can't stomach tea, you can take this in a supplemental pill form. This process usually starts at 34 weeks.

Evening Primrose Oil

There are several methods of using evening primrose oil to induce labor. It is effective because it contains a chemical that your body converts to prostaglandins. This is effectively the same as having sex as your partner's semen naturally contains prostaglandins. This chemical softens your cervix.

Many women take this capsule orally. However, you can break the EPO capsule and manually spread the oil on your cervix at night. Another option is to insert the whole capsule vaginally and allow the moist environment of the vagina to disintegrate the capsule and disperse the gel to your cervix. Be sure to wear a panty liner, pad or towel underneath you to prevent the gel from leaking onto your bedsheets. This method is started orally at around 36 weeks and internally at around 38 weeks.

Castor Oil

Ask several midwives how to induce labor and many will tell you castor oil will do the trick better than spicy food. Castor oil is a very strong laxative that does a great job at inducing labor. In some women sensitive to laxatives, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and severe intestinal cramping. This intestinal cramping stimulates your uterus into inducing labor. Add two ounces of castor oil to orange juice and drink quickly or add to your favorite ice cream. The latter is not the best method as some women struggle to swallow it so slowly. Try this method if you have an iron stomach. Professional recommend you use this extremely effective method at around 41 or 42 weeks when you show no signs of labor beginning.


An acupuncturist will insert super fine needles underneath the skin at key pressure points. This avoids the pain associated with needles that puncture and rest in the layer of skin itself. Puncturing these points balances your energy flow inducing labor. Many people will say acupuncture is not an effective method of how to induce labor, however, the research proving the opposite is sound.

If needles are not for you, seek a licensed massage therapist who is experienced in labor inducing massages. It may take two or three appointments, but 60 to 70% of pregnant women found massages specifically targeted to induce labor were helpful. This special massage relaxes the muscles around your baby and signals to your body it is time to induce labor. Acupressure may also be used in combination with massage therapy. Key pressure points which induce labor are located just above the ankle and in the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. Acupressure reduces pain, eliminates discomfort and releases oxytocin which helps you induce labor.

When Not To Induce Labor

As important as it is to know how to induce labor, it is equally important to know why not to induce labor. Your specialist will explain the risks and rewards of naturally inducing labor. Reasons why you should not naturally induce labor include:

  • One-third of your baby's brain growth occurs between weeks 35 and 40
  • Reduced risk of jaundice, infections and low blood sugar
  • Babies born two weeks prematurely are more than twice as likely to have respiratory complications
  • More time for your baby to grow and develop muscle strength
  • Better feeding habits leading to a healthy weight after birth

Remember, your due date is just an educated guess of when your baby will be born. Do not panic if it has come and gone and you are not showing signs of giving birth. Typically, your newborn will come when the time is right. Babies are most likely to be healthy when born between 39 weeks and 40 weeks 6 days. Try consulting your specialist in the middle of your 41st week as he or she may want you to start taking action.

Pregnant woman


There are many reasons to know how to induce labor. Some women may want to avoid activities to trigger labor prematurely while others may have medical reasons to induce labor. Luckily, there are many simple tips and tricks of how to induce labor. If you are in the mood and can stomach it, try sexual intercourse, spicy foods and castor oil. The female orgasm releases the hormone oxytocin which relieves pain and prepares the body for labor. Similarly, semen contains the chemical prostaglandins which helps the induction of labor. Spicy foods can cause intestinal cramping which spreads to the uterus which induces labor, and castor oil is a very strong laxative which produces the same effects of consuming spicy foods.

If you are not in the mood for sex, consume gentle foods such as eggs and bananas to introduce more oxytocin into your body. Prostaglandins can be found in evening primrose oil which can be taken orally in pill form or inserted vaginally in capsule form. Other great simple methods for how to induce labor include exercise, important to keep you in shape for the marathon of contractions you are about to face, massage therapy, acupuncture or acupressure and raspberry leaf tea or pill supplements.

Remember, speak to your specialists before naturally inducing labor yourself. There is a plethora of reasons to keep your baby developing safely inside your womb until its due date or even beyond. Examples include a reduced risk of infections, jaundice and low blood sugar, fewer respiratory complications after birth, significant brain growth, more time for muscles to grow stronger and better feeding habits. Relax and enjoy the new life you and your partner have created when it is ready to meet you.


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