Labour: how can you get it started naturally?

Labour: how can you get it started naturally?

Labour NaturallyFor nine months, your due date has been circled on the calendar. But now it’s come and gone without so much as a twinge; you’re the size of a house and friends and family are phoning round the clock to find out whether anything’s happening. Don’t be despondent – remember only 5 per cent of babies arrive on schedule.

But now another date is approaching: induction day. Inducing labour involves using prostaglandin and oxytocin hormones to kick-start contractions, and artificial rupture of the membranes with an implement that looks suspiciously like your granny’s old crochet hook!

Half of these labours end in medical intervention – forceps, ventouse or caesarean. Understandably, most women don’t want to go down that route, so we’ve looked at natural ways to get things moving…

The small print

There’s little science underpinning these methods, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest they’re worth trying – though check with your GP or midwife first.

Spicy food

Many mums swear by a good, hot curry. ‘I’m unconvinced,’ says GP Jeni Worden. ‘In my experience, the only thing it gets moving is your bowels!’


It’s thought that the downward pressure of the baby’s head on your cervix during exercise can stimulate contractions. But take care: ‘Strenuous exercise results in tired muscles and strained ligaments,’ says Dr Worden. ‘I recommend walking instead.’

Making love

Sex might be the last thing on your mind, but if you can muster the enthusiasm it might do the trick. ‘The action of the penis on the cervix, combined with prostaglandin in the semen, often gets things moving,’ says Dr Worden.

Visit your midwife

Many women find that labour starts shortly after seeing their midwife. ‘As with sex, an internal examination stimulates the cervix,’ says Dr Worden.

A nice cuppa

Raspberry leaf can be taken as a tea or in tablet form. It stimulates the uterus and for this reason isn’t recommended before 37 weeks of pregnancy.


‘I’d recommend caulophyllum,’ says Dr Worden. ‘I’ve found it to be very successful. But, as with all herbal remedies, check with your health professional first.’


Increasingly, overdue women are turning to acupuncture. The jury is still out on its effectiveness, but there’s strong anecdotal evidence to suggest that it works.

Now tell us what worked for you…

Did you swing from the chandeliers or jog round the block? We’d love to hear how you got labour started

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