Causing Contractions at Home: How Can I Get Labor Started?

It's tough to wait for your baby - if your caregiver gives the OK, try to start things up at home. Image by Decoded Pregnancy

It’s tough to wait for your baby – if your caregiver gives the OK, try to start things up at home. Image by Decoded Pregnancy

Acupressure and Labor

Pressing tender points on the body can bring on contractions when you’re ready to give birth. There are pressure spots on either side of the neck: Midway to the arm on the tops of the shoulders. Others are located along the inside of the lower leg: A few inches above the ankle, against the side of the shinbone. Another to try is on the top of the foot: Near the base of the big toe and second toes. Push firmly with one finger in any of these areas, holding for half a minute or to the point of slight discomfort. Expect contractions to start within a few hours.

Ready for Baby to be Born? Eat Dates!

It’s true that some foods can affect the timing of birth. For example, eating six dates a day for the last four weeks of pregnancy was associated with fewer overdue babies in a study conducted at Jordan University of Science and Technology. You may also try eating food seasoned with rosemary, such as rosemary chicken. Watch for signs of labor soon after the meal.

Breastpump for Oxytocin Production

You naturally release the hormone oxytocin into your bloodstream at the start of, and during labor, but we don’t understand the exact mechanism yet. It’s possible that your baby sends a signal to your brain that it is time to give birth, and your body does the rest. We know that nipple stimulation triggers oxytocin release; using a breastpump for 20 minutes every hour is very likely to cause contractions. It is perfectly normal for you to express a few drops of colostrum, or first milk. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty left for your baby. If you are producing enough, you may even choose to collect and freeze it for later use. Be sure to use and label a clean, resealable container.

Hospitals Encourage Labor via Intestinal Cramps

A normal part of early labor is loose stools. Cramps in the intestines may trigger uterine contractions, due to their close proximity. If you’re really anxious to get labor started, you can use what hospitals use for this purpose: Enemas with a large amount of very warm water and a tablespoon of castile soap. Some women have had similar results from drinking a quart of prune juice; others swear that two ounces of castor oil with breakfast did the trick. If it is going to work, labor will start within six hours of taking the remedy. Use caution when attempting this method – if you go too far, you could end up with explosive diarrhea, which could cause the bag of waters to break, thereby increasing risk of infection.

Hurry Up and Wait: When Will it Be Baby Time?

Mothers have long sought control over birth, and have found ways to hurry labor along. Reasons can range from eagerness to meet the baby, and concerns over the potential risks of medically-inducing labor to serious physical discomfort and just being tired of being pregnant. Just remember: Nothing works if the baby is not ready to be born and your body is not ready to give birth. If you’re an expectant mom, you can experiment safely at home with a variety of remedies – but get the blessing of your own doctor or midwife first.

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Al-Kuran O, et. al., The Effect of Late Pregnancy Consumption of Date Fruit on Labour and Delivery. (2011). Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Accessed October 8, 2013.

Marie Hastings-Tolsma, Deborah Vincent. Decision-making for use of complementary and alternative therapies by pregnant women and nurse midwives during pregnancy: An exploratory qualitative study. (2013). International Journal of Nursing and Midwifery. Accessed October 8, 2013.

Tenore, J. Methods for Cervical Ripening and Induction of Labor. (2003). American Family Physician. Accessed October 8, 2013.

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