Labor-Inducing Tricks That Actually Work

For when you’ve just about had it with being pregnant

You’ve spent the last nine months prepping for baby—but then your due date comes and goes with nary a contraction in sight. Ugh, is there anything more frustrating for a mama-to-be?

After someone told Bonnie Northsea (who still hadn’t gone into labor after reaching her due date) that dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” would help get things moving, she tried it. And thus, the latest viral video sensation was born (sorry, we had to). Check out her cute dance moves below:

If you’re getting a little impatient to meet your own little one, is there anything you can do to get into the delivery room faster? While most of the advice you’ve heard about how to induce labor (like eating spicy foods or walking up hills) isn’t supported by any studies, the good news is there are a few techniques that can actually get labor going.

Here are some to try—and one you may want to avoid. Just remember, sometimes it’s best to patient. “We like to keep babies in the bun until at least 39 weeks so that their lungs can be mature,” says Draion Burch, M.D, a board-certified ob-gyn in Pittsburgh.


We know: It’s what got you into this position in the first place. But doctors have a hunch that sex could prompt your body to start the labor process. “The thought is that the exposure to prostaglandins in semen may bring on labor,” says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., an ob-gyn in Westchester, New York, and coauthor of V Is for Vagina. Prostaglandins are fatty acids that can have hormone-like effects on the body, specifically when it comes to softening the cervix, says Burch. “Also, during orgasm, the uterus contracts, and this may have some effect,” says Dweck. That’s code for: Make sure he’s not the only one having an orgasm.


Some women try massaging their nipples and areola with a rolling or rubbing motion to essentially trick their bodies and simulate a baby’s suckling. “The idea is to cause a release of oxytocin that starts contractions and brings on labor,” says Dweck. Both having sex and nipple stimulation seem innocent enough, but Dweck recommends making sure you inform a doctor if you’re trying either of these methods so they can monitor you if necessary.


Done during a regular pelvic exam, your ob-gyn will put their finger into your cervix to separate the amniotic sac from the wall of your uterus—when the water is separated, hormones are released that may cause your uterus to start contracting. Sounds scary, but it could actually bring you relief. “A doctor or midwife may try membrane stripping during a cervical exam in the hopes of bringing on labor,” says Dweck. But you should not—and we repeat, should not—try to do anything like this at home. “Your provider manipulates the cervix by manually dilating it,” says Burch. “This releases prostaglandins which can help get labor started.”  If you’re uncomfortable enough that you want your doctor or midwife to try it, ask them whether it’s an option for you.


“I’m not sure if this has actually been studied, but anecdotally, consuming castor oil seems to bring on contractions,” says Dweck. But that could be due to “intestinal motility” (or intestinal contractions), she says, which will make you poop. The thing is, since it’s usually not taken on the advice of a doctor, you can overwhelm your system. “No castor oil, please!” says Burch. “It makes you have diarrhea, which leads to dehydration.” Because of that, this method isn’t typically doctor-recommended, although midwives may suggest patients try it out.

Bottom line: There will always be old wives’ tales that supposedly worked for a friend of a friend or maybe even someone you know. But nothing compares to getting the advice of a trusted medical professional—when in doubt, that’s the way to go.





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Labor-Inducing Tricks That Actually Work