Women whose pregnancies have lasted for 40 weeks or longer might be eager for their baby to be born. The final weeks of pregnancy can be uncomfortable, and the anticipation of waiting for a new baby can be overwhelming. Doctors also tend to get nervous when a pregnancy goes late because of the increased risk of cord compression and fetal distress, and many women feel frightened when their doctor starts talking about Caesareans and chemically induced inductions. If your pregnancy is more than 40 weeks, there are some things you can do at home to help speed labor along naturally.
Walk often, or walk up and down stairs. The movement of your hips when you walk helps to move the baby into the correct position to be born. The baby's head pressing against your cervix helps to soften the cervix, which makes dilation easier. Walking also relieves some of the pressure on your back, and can help you relax by taking your mind off of things.
Have sex. Female orgasms produce oxytocin, which is the hormone that causes uterine contractions. Oxytocin is the natural form of pitocin, the drug used in hospitals to chemically induce labor. Semen contains prostaglandins, a hormone that helps soften the cervix and prepare it to open. Sex is safe in the final weeks of pregnancy as long as your water hasn't broken.
Try nipple stimulation if sex is too uncomfortable. Stimulating your nipples also produces oxytocin, the hormone that will be released when your baby nurses. If you start feeling contractions while stimulating your nipples, stop for awhile to see if the contractions continue. Nipple stimulation can cause strong contractions that may not necessarily lead to labor.
Mix two tablespoons of castor oil into a glass of juice and drink it down quickly. The juice will help mask the foul taste of the castor oil. Castor oil causes intestinal contractions, which can stimulate uterine contractions. Because of the diarrhea caused by the castor oil, you should pick time the diarrhea will not interfere with your routine.
Talk to your doctor or midwife about using herbs to induce labor. Evening primrose oil applied directly to the cervix can speed labor because it contains prostaglandins which ripen the cervix. Blue and black cohosh have been used for centuries to induce labor and speed it along, but like all herbal medicines, they are not approved or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and should be used with caution.
If these methods don't work after one or two tries, you'll just have to wait longer. Natural labor induction methods won't work unless your body is already close to starting labor, or if it's already in the early stages.
Do not attempt to induce or speed up labor unless you are certain your pregnancy is past 40 weeks. Starting labor too early can cause your baby to be born before it's really ready.
Talk to your practitioner before trying to induce labor at home, and have your pregnancy monitored if it has gone longer than 42 weeks. An overdue pregnancy might require more aggressive medical intervention to protect the baby.