Inducing labour DIY style!!


Well-Known Member
May 11, 2005
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Found this lot on another site:


A brief summary of traditional DIY methods:

Exercise lots! Bouncing up and down...

Sex, but especially oral sex - the 'natural' (and gentle) prostaglandins in semen are absorbed more effectively through the gut than through the cervix... if you can face it! (more on this below!)

Hot curry

Reflexology often very effective, if you can get organised and find someone to do it quickly.

Failsafe method of inducing baby: arrange lots of things to do in the next week that you would really enjoy - massage, facial, hairdresser, etc..!! Even if it doesn't work, you'll have a nice time...

Nipple stimulation - apparently you really need to keep at it for at least an hour, and that one way is to get going with a breast pump while you're watching telly!


I have to agree with exertion as a possible means of induction. For the last three pregnancies I (not deliberately anytime) twice went for a long walk the previous day and ended up carrying a toddler for most of the way - ok so you haven't a toddler - try a heavy rucksack :)) This time I had a very stressful and energetic party for my oldest son's 7th birthday the previous day !


'Has anybody out there heard of asking mothers to eat lots of pineapples and bananas to 'help soften the cervix' (presumably near term)?'

I have heard that fresh pineapple contains a chemical similar to that in prostaglandin and so can have the same effect at term but it needs to be fresh, not tinned. Not heard of bananas though.



There is an extensive article on 'natural induction methods' on the US Midwife Archives


The other thing that can be done is to stop trying to induce the labour by whatever means, (If medical induction is not wanted, why are we trying to induce at all), and await events calmly. If there is no reduction in liquor volume, fetal movements are not changing, abdominal girth is not diminishing, there is no marked loss of weight and the woman feels good, what is the indication to try and start this labour? Hospital staff's protocols/policies are not an indication. Liquor volume can be pretty accurately assessed by the woman feeling the tightness of her clothes on her abdomen; if they are getting looser liquor might be diminishing.

Why are we hassling women who are "overdue"? Vigilant inactivity seems to be another lost midwifery skill.

(a midwife)


< Remedies founders) Caulophyllum also goes by the common name of Blue Cohosh. So it might be worth asking for it by that name, but don't get it mixed up with black cohosh which is entirely different!>>

Caulophyllum is the homoepathic version of Blue Cohosh- Blue Cohosh is the herbal remedy. Basically that means that you can't (as far as anyone knows) do any *harm* with homeopathic remedies, but there is little evidence from good quality trials that they are effective, either. There have been some studies suggesting good outcomes for homeopathy for certain ailments, but it seems really difficult to find studies with good methodology. I know that many people are certain that homeopathy has been effective for their families, but it is not something which I know much about I'm afraid.

However, I do use herbal medicine where necessary, and it's a different ball game. Some herbal medicines can be just as harmful as anything you get on prescription, but the plus side is that there is a lot more evidence that they are effective. They need to be used with caution. If you're desperate, there are quite a few things you can use - but then, if you don't want pharmaceutical induction in hospital because of a VBAC scar, I'd worry about how advisable it was to induce labour using herbs, either.

Anyway... Blue Cohosh is the one most commonly recommended, but when a friend of mine was trying to get things moving we used Goldenseal. Her waters had broken and time was tapping on.... we read everythign we could get our hands on, went out shopping round health food shops, but the only thingwe could find near her was Goldenseal tincture, which is generally taken with Echinacea as an immune booster. Lots of health food shops sell it. So, she divided the dose into 2, took half before dinner, then had a curry and pint of lager. Nothing much happened - still the odd twinge every 20 minutes. Then she took the second half of the Goldenseal dose and within 15 minutes she was having contractions every 5 mins and had the baby about four hours later. Of course, we can't guarantee that it was the Goldenseal that did it, but reading through books on herbalism and pregnancy I found several references to the herb having been used to induce labour in the past, but that it had fallen out of favour nowadays as it was 'too strong'. This would really make me worry about using it when you wanted a VBAC.

Angela H.


Caulophyllum 200x - Also you could try Clary Sage 10 drops in a bath that works for some women.. and according to a friend of mine the best remedy is to wear your very best knickers the ones you really dont want ruined (water should break :eek:) ) I guess that is a variation of sods law..



I found blue cohosh tinture to be helpfull in starting my labour and strenthening my contractions. According to The Childbearing Year by Susan Weed, take 3-8 drops in water every half hour until contractions begin. If labour is not underway in 4 hours then one dropperfull of the tincture on the tongue every hour should do it. Neals Yard stock blue cohosh. If they only have the root then try making a strong brew and sipping it throughout the day. Listen to your body. Nipple stimulation is also good plus sex. Susan Weed recomends having an orgasm and I have read that sperm on the cervix actually helps to start labour.


I didn't try this but the homoeopathic remedy Caulophyllum 200x one every half hor for two hour is meant to work too. You'll have to order it from a homoeopathic pharmacy.


You can get cohosh, blue and black, and golden seal and gelsemium (but be extremely careful with this and consult a herbalist first) from Neal's Yard.



Places to order herbal remedies:
I think that Neal's Yard are not allowed to include instructions on the packaging for the same reason that they can't have any claims for the product on the packaging - EU legislation about the sale of vitamins and non-pharmaceutical remedies. However, they do have a phone number you can ring for advice - 020 7627 1949 - and I've found them very helpful in the past.

Neal's Yard also do mail-order:
Neals Yard Remedies sell every remedy under the sun and they do mail order (0161 831 7875). They have shops in London, Brighton, Bromley, Bristol, Norwich, Oxford and Totnes (Devon).

Neal's Yard Their website (

Helios ( may be able to deliver next day. Tel. 24 hrs 01892 536393; or normal hrs 01892 537254) - they are very efficient. They can get it to you extra fast for not much extra if you use a credit card.

Oral Application of Semen, From the US midwife archives
About fellatio: Actually, it would probably be beneficial, if the idea is to get the labour started. A great OB in Hamilton (John Lamont, I believe) spoke to our class about sexuality and pregnancy. He mentioned the concept that prostaglandins are absorbed 10X more efficiently through the gut than through the vaginal mucosa, with respect to semen and labour onset.


Castor Oil
I remember reading somewhere that castor oil can cause particularly strong contractions and has been associated with foetal distress, as well as the maternal distress caused by the discomfort of course! On the other hand, plenty of women take the stuff and have no results whatsoever from it. I suppose the problem is that you just don't know what effect it's going to have on your body until you try it.



A bit like prostin gel really!!



The active ingredient of castor oil is ricinic acid. The pharmocological name is oleo ricini. It is a powerful laxative and acts by stimulating the gut. If labour is not far off castor oil will stimulate the uterus to contract - Castor oil contractions - this will give the uterus enough of a "kick Start" to start off labour. As it is often used when a pregnancy is post term there is often meconium in the liquor This is not sinister. It is a feature of the postmature fetus Its gut has matured amd it has passed meconium. This is not in itself a sign of fetal distress.

Before the days of of synthetis oxytocic drugs we used "ol ric" frequently to start, and augment labours. I still suggest it to women occasionally.

The dose is 25-30 mls It is disgusting to take. I mix it with a similar amount of a sour fruit juice, lemon or grapefruit, shake it up, give it to the victim to swig, then pass her a tissue to wipe her mouth, then give her a dry biscuit to eat. I took it myself on two occasions - YUK YUK YUK

Mary Cronk, independent midwife


I think that I would have been prepared to try castor oil to induce labour, despite the side effects, if it meant that I could stay in control and not get transferred up the system. (i.e. from GP unit to consultant unit) When I went overdue with my third the GP unit wrote me off and referred me back to my GP who was unable to get consultant unit cover immediately.

I'd rather stay in control and drink a glass of disgusting liquid at home than have ARM done by a consultant with no consent in hospital! Point taken about the lack of research, but seriously, can you think of any centre that would bother to do and RCT (randomised, controlled trials) when there are so many other methods of IOL (induction of labour)?



We gave 4 fl oz caster oil + orange juice + 1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda, which caused it to fizz and made it a little more pleasant to take!

The assumption was that it is a rectal stimulant and because the nerve supply to the rectum passed through the same plexuses as the uterus, it would stimulate labour. Having given it to women for a few years in the late 60s and early 70s, I believe it was effective for those at term. Many went into labour within 12 hours of taking it.

I agree that it is not particularly pleasant, but is better for many women than invasive procedures to induce labour. However, I also agree that research should be undertaken before recommending it.



My mum has horrific memories of Castor oil to try and induce labour when she was pregnant with me. At 41 weeks her blood pressure went up and she was admitted to hospital for induction. She has no doubt that it may have helped to stimulate her labour but would not wish the other unpleasant side effects on anyone. She also says it took at least two doses so maybe labour started spontaneously anyway and everyone just put it down to the castor oil. (This was in 1966)


4 oz castor oil in orange juice mixed well and swallowed fast (it tastes foul) causes a bad case of the runs but I have found it helps to start labour. another dose can be given 12 hrs later. if it does not work, perhaps this baby is simply not ready.


Castor oil was used by generations of women earlier this century before the advent of evidence based practise. It was foul, it did indeed give a dose of the runs and women found this totally unpleasant. And I seriously question that it did ever induce labour. It has never been the subject of a research study as far as I know and in my opinion should not be recommended to anyone unless it is.



"I came across a worrying article stating that any type of 'natural' induction is very dangerous and that use of castor oil could lead to cord prolapse."

I have been using castor oil to encourage labour in women who wish for various reasons to do this for over thirty years with discrimination and I would be interested to know why the wide statement is made that it is not advisable.

Of course, like anything else there are contraindications and I carefully question the woman as to:

Why she wants to encourage her baby to be born before the spontaneous onset of labour.
Has she any history of irritable bowel syndrome or any other gut problems
Has she any piles or any history of piles.
I then offer to examine her vaginally to assess the cervix as in my experience if the Cx. is not ripe the castor oil is unlikely to start labour. I also check the presentation and station of the head and would advise not to proceed if the presentation was other than cephalic and well in the pelvis. There is a danger of cord prolapse if any labour starts with a malpresentation and a high presenting part and therefore if castor oil is taken and there is a prolapse of cord, the castor oil is blamed .

If all is well, I suggest she take 25-30 mls of castor oil mixed with the same amount of a sour sharp fruit juice like lemon or lime or grapefriut, have an assistant beat the nauseous mixture, hand it to the woman, who drinks it as quickly as she can, the assistant then removes the glass and washes it carefully so that no smell or taste lingers, the woman wipes her mouth with a tissue she has ready, eats a crisp dry biscuit or dry toast and awaits events.

Mary Cronk, independent midwife


David Garry, DO, Reinaldo Figueroa, MD, Jacques Guillaume, MD, and Valerie Cucco, DO

Context . Despite wide use of castor oil to initiate labor, the obstetric literature contains few references to this botanical laxative. Derived from the castor plant Ricinus communis, castor oil may possess properties that are useful in post-term pregnancies.

Objective . To evaluate the relationship between the use of castor oil and the onset of labor.

Design . Prospective evaluation.

Setting . A community hospital in Brooklyn, NY.

Patients . A total of 103 singleton pregnancies with intact membranes at 40 to 42 weeks referred for antepartum testing. Inclusion criteria included cervical examination, Bishop score of 4 or less, and no evidence of regular uterine contractions.

Intervention . Patients were alternately assigned to 1 of 2 study groups: a single oral dose of castor oil (60 mL) or no treatment.

Main Outcome Measures . Castor oil was considered successful if labor began within 24 hours after dosing. Groups were compared for onset of labor in 24 hours, method of delivery, presence of meconium-stained amniotic fluid, Apgar score, and birth weight.

Results . Fifty-two women received castor oil and 48 were assigned no treatment. Following administration of castor oil, 30 of 52 women (57.7%) began active labor compared to 2 of 48 (4.2%) receiving no treatment. When castor oil was successful, 83.3% (25/30) of the women delivered vaginally.

Conclusions . Women who receive castor oil have an increased likelihood of initiation of labor within 24 hours compared to women who receive no treatment. Castor oil use in pregnancy is underreported worldwide. This small series represents the first attempt to evaluate the medication.

(Altern Ther Health Med. 2000;6(1):77-79)
Found some more:

Get Set for Labour
written by Sally Akins

If you’re fast approaching 40 weeks, or you’ve gone past your EDD, you’re probably getting impatient to meet your new baby and a little tired of being pregnant. Perhaps you have been set a date for induction at your hospital and are keen to try and start labour off in a more natural way. Here’s ten methods of natural induction you could try. Note: Please ensure you consult your doctor or midwife before attempting any form of labour induction – the normal length of a pregnancy is 37-42 weeks.

Clary sage and Jasmine essential oils
Both of these oils can act as a uterine stimulant, which is why they are usually listed as being contra-indicated during pregnancy. This is the reason why many women turn to essential oils for natural induction – you could try massaging them into your bump, putting them in a bath, or putting them on a hot towel on your bump. Be warned though, Clary Sage has a very distinctive smell…

Reflexology is a form of 'alternative' or 'complementary' medicine and involves a method of treatment using massage to reflex areas found in the feet and the hands. Most commonly the feet are massaged to treat other areas of the body – a reflexologist will massage specific areas which are believed to be linked to the uterus, in order to try and induce labour – most practitioners will not carry this out before 40 weeks as it can be highly effective. To find a qualified practitioner visit

Another form of complementary medicine that could help induce labour. It’s best to consult a qualified homeopath, as homeopathic remedies are selected to suit the individual patient. You can find more information on homeopathy and how it works HERE and to find a homeopath near you, visit

Acupuncture uses fine needles which are inserted into the skin, to restore the body’s natural balance of Qi (motivating energy) and stimulate it’s healing response. It is another form of complementary medicine which can help ease the aches of late pregnancy and induce labour. You can find a registered acupuncture practitioner near you on the British Acupuncture Council website

Apparently, there are prostaglandins in semen which can trigger labour, if you are ready to go into labour. Of course it might be the last thing that you feel like doing at 40+ weeks of pregnancy, but if you’re both feeling in the mood then it might be worth a try. One other point though, the prostaglandins are better absorbed through the stomach (although you might want to keep that little bit of information to yourself…)

Fresh pineapple
There is an enzyme in pineapple which is also reputed to be a natural inducer of labour – however the enzyme is only found in fresh pineapple (the process of juicing or tinning the pineapple destroys it) and is only present in small quantities. Allegedly you would have to eat as many as seven pineapples to consume enough to have an effect.

Hot curries
This method works along the same lines as the old castor oil trick – the spicy food stimulates the bowel, and it’s thought that can have a similar effect on your uterus, kickstarting contractions. This method probably isn’t the best to try if you’re not a curry fan though! Please note that taking castor oil is now not generally recommended, as it can over-stimulate the bowel, bringing on diarrhoea and causing dehydration – labour is hard enough work, without making it even harder on yourself!

Stimulating your breasts
You could try putting hot towels on them, twiddling your nipples (or getting your partner to!), or even using a breast pump if you have bought one. This method is supposed to work because when your breasts are stimulated in this way it causes your body to release oxytocin – this hormones makes the womb contract (which is why breastfeeding after the birth helps your womb to return to it’s original size quicker).

Long walks
The theory here is that by walking, your baby’s head will press against your cervix, which will cause labour to start. Whether or not it’s true is a matter for debate (I walked miles while waiting for labour to start with my first son!) but if you’re feeling up to it, then at the very least it will pass some time in those last few weeks.

Stretch and sweep
You’ll need some help from your midwife or GP for this one. If your cervix is starting to soften and efface, and is a little bit dilated, they can give you what is sometimes termed a ‘vigourous internal exam’ – basically they will use their fingers to sweep around your cervix, and separate the membranes a little from your uterine wall. As with all of the other methods, it doesn’t work for everyone, but where it does work, it seems to be effective within about 24 hours. You’ll possibly feel a little crampy afterwards, and might have a bit of a show, but this can be a really good kickstart to labour.

And if all else fails, you could always plan lots of nice things to do over the next week – that way at least if it doesn’t work and you don’t go into labour as quickly as you hoped, you’ll have a nice time while waiting!
Kerry said:
Sex, but especially oral sex - the 'natural' (and gentle) prostaglandins in semen are absorbed more effectively through the gut than through the cervix... if you can face it! (more on this below!)

lol ewww!!

I know, keeping that quiet from hubby!!
god castor oil brings back memories :lol:
it worked with 3 of my older kids
mind you it does bring your labour on fast
layla said:
Kerry said:
Sex, but especially oral sex - the 'natural' (and gentle) prostaglandins in semen are absorbed more effectively through the gut than through the cervix... if you can face it! (more on this below!)

lol ewww!!

:!: :!: :!: :!: :!: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

really?!!! bet a bloke wrote that bit!!!
Sami said:
layla said:
Kerry said:
Sex, but especially oral sex - the 'natural' (and gentle) prostaglandins in semen are absorbed more effectively through the gut than through the cervix... if you can face it! (more on this below!)

lol ewww!!

:!: :!: :!: :!: :!: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

really?!!! bet a bloke wrote that bit!!!

LMAO!!! that really made me laugh :)

Sami said:
layla said:
Kerry said:
Sex, but especially oral sex - the 'natural' (and gentle) prostaglandins in semen are absorbed more effectively through the gut than through the cervix... if you can face it! (more on this below!)

lol ewww!!

:!: :!: :!: :!: :!: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

really?!!! bet a bloke wrote that bit!!!

I was going to say that, good job OH hadn't read that before baby arrived, it was the last thig I felt like doing. Even having cuddles got a bit much towards the end as I could hardly move :oops: . I tried nearly all of those methods (apart from the caster oil and the...ehem...oral method) but nowt happened. However I can't stand bloomin pineapple now, or stand the smell of clary sage etc.
I used castro oil for my last 2 children and it worked like a charm!! Although it is sooooo nasty to drink but very effective!! :wink: :wink:

xoxo Ree
My bathroom still honks of Clary Sage! 2 weeks later! Yuk i hate the smell too. Be warned it lingers !
i took castor oil on my son twice and nothing but severe runs :oops:
guess he just wasnt ready to come out xxxx
beanie said:
Sami said:
layla said:
Kerry said:
Sex, but especially oral sex - the 'natural' (and gentle) prostaglandins in semen are absorbed more effectively through the gut than through the cervix... if you can face it! (more on this below!)

lol ewww!!

:!: :!: :!: :!: :!: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

really?!!! bet a bloke wrote that bit!!!

Too late, my man read that, and his eyes lit up! Not for me!!!! Bet he thought his luck was in though lol,

Fluffy. xx :lol:
Failsafe method of inducing baby: arrange lots of things to do in the next week that you would really enjoy - massage, facial, hairdresser, etc..!! Even if it doesn't work, you'll have a nice time...

Worked for me ! The day I went into labour I was meant to be:

Visiting my mate
Going to hospital to collect TENS machine
Hairdressers appointment!!!!!! (which I had already cancelled 4 times before due to not being able to drive from my fall!) :shock:

L x

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