How to Induce Labour: 10 Methods or Myths?

Pregnant Belly


You're at the stage where you would consider absolutely anything to bring on the onset of labour. Although the thoughts of labour might be fill you with dread you have reached the point where you just want this baby out!

I reached this point when I was coming up to a week overdue. I went in for a routine check up which happened to coincide with my due date and the parting words of my gynacologist were 'see you next week if nothing has happened'.

I remember leaving the appointment determined I would not make it the following week as I would have my baby! I don't know what gave me more motivation, his words or me seeing other women in my antenatal class leaving the hospital with their newborn when I knew their expected due date was after mine!


As a big fan of the UK comedian Michael McIntyre I simply just love his sketch entitled 'Sex and Curry' on this topic. When you are late i.e. you have passed your due date many people feel compelled to offer advice on how to induce labour.

Listed below are 10 ways you could try and nudge things along:



This is one of the more well-known methods. Having a bigger belly might involve some careful manoeuvring but the theory behind this is that a woman's organism can trigger labour as well as semen coming into contact with the vagina.

The only time not to try this is if your water's have broken as you run the risk of infection.



A popular myth but there is no scientific evidence which supports a connection between spicy food and the start of contractions.

People often suggest this method as spicy food can often stimulate your stomach, which in turn may help to stimulate your uterus.

Castor Oil


With the first two methods of inducing labour there is an element of enjoyment in the process. If they don't actually bring on labour at least you might have had an orgasm or a very nice meal!

With castor oil unfortunately there is no evidence as to how it actually works. The theory seems to be the same as for spicy food, stimulatation of stomach and in turn the uterus. The downside is you could end up feeling nauseous and having diarrhoea.



If you like pineapple you've really nothing to lose by trying this one. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which is thought to soften your cervix and help bring on labour.

Raspberry Leaf Tea


I have to admit I did try this one but it didn't seem to work so in the end I went for something slightly stronger in a gin and tonic when I was nearly a week overdue and this seemed to do the trick!

Once again, it's the same theory, it's supposed to stimulate your uterus into action. I can't say I liked the taste of the tea all that much but it can be taken in a tablet form also.

Going for a walk


Another pleasant activity which can be done on your own or in the company of others. By walking it is hoped the pressure of your baby's head pressing down on your cervix could encourage the release of oxytocin, a hormome which causes contractions. In addition the sideways motion and being upright encourages your baby to move on down into the birthing position! It's also a great activity to do whilst you are having contractions.



I've only ever tried this once (and not when I was pregnant) and I have to say I didn't really take to it. I have heard very positive things from others though. Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into the body at specific points with the idea being to stimulate energy within your body to act on a specific organ function or system.

Blowing up balloons


I personally hadn't heard of this one but if you just want to bring on labour and get your baby out then it's worth a try.
The theory is that the build up of pressure in your abdominal whilst you are blowing up balloons can encourage labour to start. I am not sure how many balloons you need to blow up in order to test this theory, but if a friend is having a party then maybe you could offer to take on this task and see what happens!
Breast massage


This is another theory which focuses on the release of ocytocin, part of the hormonal cocktail which can start your contractions. The idea is to gently massage your nipples for 5 minute periods throughout the day to stimulate contractions.
Some say it won't bring on labour but if the cervix is already ripened it may help speed up the process.
Herbal remedies


There are some herbs such as black cohosh and blue cohosh which have been mentioned in the context of inducing labour, since they are supposed to imitate hormones but there haven't been enough studies carried out yet to confirm if this is a safe method.
These types of herbs are much stronger than homeopathic remedies and should be used with caution and under professional guidance.
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