Labor is induced by stimulating contractions of the uterus or ripening the cervix before the onset of spontaneous labor, usually because medical or obstetrical problems threaten the well-being of the mother or baby. Methods for inducing labor vary according to the situation and the obstetrician's practice.
Unfortunately, inducing labor is only safe and reliable when its done in a hospital setting. There are no proven non-medical methods to induce labor. However, experts believe there are some methods that don’t hurt to try, including:
Sex: While there is no proof that sex can induce labor, it does cause a prostaglandin release, which is similar to the medication mentioned above. Sex at this point in the pregnancy is typically safe as long as the doctor says so.
Acupuncture: This method has been used in parts of Asia for centuries. It’s only been recently that universities such as the University of North Carolina have been conducting studies to see whether acupuncture actually works for induction purposes.
Long Walks: Some experts argue that walking for long periods does nothing to induce labor. However, short walks may help a woman to relax, allowing labor to occur. Talk with your healthcare provider about this method.
Evening Primrose Oil: This herbal solution contains a precursor to prostaglandins, which tend to help the cervix prepare for labor. However, most experts agree that the effectiveness of this oil needs to be studied more.
Be careful of castor oil and cohosh. Some women believe ingesting a small amount of castor oil during your 38th week of pregnancy can induce labor and increase your chances of having your baby on time. However, castor oil is known to cause intense diarrhea. Still, once labor begins, castor oil can help to stimulate the bowels, which puts pressure on the uterus.
Cohosh is an herb that contains phytoestrogens, which are known to affect blood clotting. Most medical professionals therefore do not recommend it. Some people believe spicy foods will help induce labor, but like other natural methods, this seems to be a myth — the stomach and uterus have no direct relationship.