10 Methods to Induce Labour: When & How to Use Them

Waiting for your little one to arrive can feel like an eternity, especially if you’re past your due date. While it’s best to let nature take its course, sometimes there are reasons why you might need to give your body a little nudge. If you’re wondering on some methods to induce labour, you’re in the right place.

Being pregnant means figuring out how best to start labour when the time comes. From natural methods like nipple stimulation and walking to medical interventions such as membrane sweeping and Pitocin, there are several ways to encourage your baby’s grand entrance. But before you try any methods to induce labour, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure it’s safe for you and bub.

Today, we’re getting right into the thick of it with ten tricks up our sleeve for starting labour—each one explained so you know exactly when and how to give them a try. Whether you’re looking for natural ways to get things moving or need to consider medical induction, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s kick things off and move closer every day towards the moment when you get to cuddle your little miracle.

Table of ContentsToggle Table of Content

methods to induce labour

What Is Labour Induction?

As a mum-to-be, you’re probably counting down the days until you can finally meet your little one. But sometimes, your pregnancy care provider may recommend inducing labour before your due date.

Labour induction, also known as methods to induce labour, is when your provider uses medications or other methods to start the process of childbirth. This is done to prompt your uterus to start contracting, which can lead to labour and delivery.

Why may it be best to induce labour

The main reason healthcare providers induce labour is to protect your health and the fetus’s health. In some cases, it may be safer for the baby to be born sooner rather than later.

Your healthcare provider may recommend labour induction if:

  • You’re approaching two weeks beyond your due date and labour hasn’t started naturally
  • Your water has broken, but you’re not having contractions
  • There’s an infection in your uterus
  • You have a medical condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease
  • There are problems with the placenta or the umbilical cord
  • The baby has a growth problem

When will a doctor recommend inducing labour

In some cases, your provider may recommend an elective induction for non-medical reasons. This could be useful if you live far from the hospital or have a history of fast deliveries.

However, the World Health Organization recommends that labor should only be induced when there’s a clear medical reason and the benefits outweigh the risks. Elective inductions before 39 weeks aren’t recommended unless there’s a medical need.

methods to induce labour

Methods to Induce Labour

So, your doctor has recommended inducing labour. But what exactly does that entail? As it turns out, there are several different methods to induce labour that healthcare providers can use to get things moving along.

How do doctors induce labour?

Healthcare providers may recommend one or more of several methods to induce labour. It depends on how soft your cervix is and if you’re dilated or effaced.

If your cervix isn’t effaced or dilated, your provider may use one of the following methods to ripen your cervix first:

  • Prostaglandin medications: These are inserted into the vagina or taken by mouth to soften the cervix and promote contractions.
  • Mechanical dilation: A small tube with an inflatable balloon is inserted into the cervix. The balloon is then inflated to gently stretch the cervix open.
  • Stripping the membranes: Your provider sweeps a gloved finger around the amniotic sac to separate it from the uterine wall, which can stimulate contractions.

Once your cervix is ripe, your provider may use one of these techniques to induce labor:

  • Rupturing the amniotic sac: Also known as “breaking your water,” this is done with a small plastic hook during a vaginal exam.
  • Intravenous Pitocin: This synthetic form of oxytocin is given through an IV to stimulate uterine contractions.

How can I induce labor myself?

I know how tempting it can be to try to speed things along on your own, especially if you’re past your due date. But it’s important to talk to your provider before attempting any DIY induction methods.

That being said, breast stimulation is one natural technique that has been studied for inducing labor. It involves massaging the nipples or using a breast pump to stimulate the release of oxytocin, which can cause the uterus to contract.

A clinical trial at Yale is currently investigating how nipple stimulation may work to induce labour. “Our study is helping us identify the differences between the typical induction of labour and this alternative approach, which may be a way of inducing the spontaneous mechanisms of natural labour,” says study author Molly McAdow, MD, PhD.

methods to induce labour

Natural methods to induce labour

In addition to nipple stimulation, there are a few other natural methods that some women use to try to kickstart labour. However, it’s important to note that there’s limited scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.

One common suggestion is to go for a walk. Walking for 30 minutes three times a week at 4 kilometers (km) or 2.5 miles (m) per hour starting from week 38 of pregnancy can help induce labour. It may also help reduce interventions during vaginal delivery.

Other natural methods to induce labour recommended by people is as simple as having sex. Though research hasn’t found definitive evidence that it works, there are a few theoretical reasons why getting intimate could help move things along:

  • Semen contains prostaglandins, which can help ripen the cervix
  • Orgasms cause uterine contractions
  • Nipple stimulation during sex can promote oxytocin release

Again, it’s crucial to consult with your provider before trying any natural induction methods on your own. They can help you weigh the potential risks and benefits based on your individual circumstances.

methods to induce labour

What to Expect During Labour Induction

I’ll be honest – inducing labor isn’t exactly a walk in the park. But knowing what to expect can help you feel more prepared and empowered throughout the process.

What induced labour feels like

The physical sensations of induced labour can vary depending on the specific methods used. Some women describe more intense and frequent contractions with Pitocin compared to spontaneous labor.

Prostaglandin medications can also cause strong cramping as the cervix begins to soften and dilate. And having your water broken can feel like a sudden gush or trickle of fluid.

As labour progresses, you’ll likely start to feel the telltale signs like increased pelvic pressure and back pain. Your provider will monitor you and the baby closely and offer pain management options as needed.

If induction of labour does not work

Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, induction just doesn’t lead to active labour. This is more common if the cervix isn’t ripe or if the induction starts before 39 weeks.

If this happens, your provider will discuss the next steps with you. They may recommend waiting a day or two before trying again. Or, if there are concerns about your health or the baby’s, a cesarean section (C-section) might be necessary.

It’s natural to feel disappointed or even scared if an induction doesn’t work as planned. But try to remember that the end goal is a safe delivery for both you and your little one, however that may happen.

No matter what your labour and delivery ends up looking like, you’re doing an amazing job. And soon enough, you’ll be holding that precious baby in your arms.

Key Takeaway: 


Understanding labour induction is key for expecting mums. It involves methods to kickstart childbirth, often for health reasons. Talk to your doctor before trying any DIY techniques and stay informed about what the process might feel like.

Risks and Benefits of Labour Induction

As with any medical procedure, labour induction comes with its own set of risks and benefits. It’s crucial to weigh these carefully with your healthcare provider before making a decision.

In my experience, the benefits often outweigh the risks when there’s a clear medical need for induction. But it’s not a choice to be made lightly.

What are the advantages of inducing labour?

The main advantage of inducing labour is that it can help prevent complications when there are concerns about the mother’s or baby’s health. For example, if you have high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, inducing labour can reduce the risk of those conditions causing harm.

Induction can also be beneficial when a pregnancy has gone past the due date. Studies show that inducing labour after 41 weeks can lower the risk of stillbirth and other complications compared to waiting for labour to start naturally.

What are the risks of inducing labour?

While generally safe, labour induction does carry some risks. One of the main concerns is that it can lead to stronger, more frequent contractions, which can sometimes cause fetal distress. This may result in an increased risk of needing an emergency C-section.

There’s also a slightly higher risk of complications like uterine rupture, placental abruption, or problems with the umbilical cord. These are rare but serious conditions that can threaten the baby’s health.

It’s important to note that induction isn’t always successful. In some cases, the methods used to try to start labor don’t work, and a C-section may be necessary anyway. This is more likely if the cervix isn’t “ripe” (softened and ready for labor) when induction is attempted.

methods to induce labour

When Labour Induction May Be Recommended

While most pregnancies progress smoothly, there are times when a healthcare provider may recommend inducing labour. This is typically done when the benefits outweigh the risks – in other words, when allowing the pregnancy to continue could pose a greater threat to the mother or baby’s well-being.

In my years of working with expectant mothers, I’ve seen many situations where induction was the safest choice. Here are a couple of the most common reasons:

Preventing the risks of a post-term delivery

One of the main reasons for inducing labour is when a pregnancy has gone past the due date, usually beyond 41 weeks. This is known as a “post-term” or “overdue” pregnancy.

While it’s common for babies to arrive a little late, there are some risks associated with pregnancies that go too far past the due date. The placenta, which nourishes the baby, may not function as well after 41 or 42 weeks. This can increase the risk of complications like low amniotic fluid, decreased fetal movement, or stillbirth.

Inducing labor can help prevent these risks by ensuring the baby is born before the placenta stops working effectively. It’s a balancing act – we want to give the baby enough time to develop fully, but not so much time that the risks start to outweigh the benefits.

If you have a health condition or your baby is not thriving

Another common reason for induction is when the mother has a health problem that could be made worse by continuing the pregnancy. Some examples include high blood pressure, preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes.

In these cases, the stress of pregnancy can put a strain on the mother’s body and potentially cause complications for the baby too. Inducing labour can help prevent those risks.

Induction may also be recommended if there are signs that the baby is not growing or thriving as well as they should be. This could be due to problems with the placenta or umbilical cord, or other factors that limit the baby’s ability to get the oxygen and nutrients they need.

If a healthcare provider notices that the baby’s heart rate is not responding normally, or if there are concerns about their movement and growth, they may advise inducing labour to prevent the risk of stillbirth or other complications.

Key Takeaway: 


Weighing the risks and benefits with your doctor is key before deciding on labour induction. It can be a safe choice for preventing complications, especially in cases like high blood pressure or overdue pregnancies. But remember, it’s not without its risks, including the potential need for a C-section.

Inducing labour is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. While there are various methods to induce labour, from natural techniques to medical interventions, it’s essential to work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the best approach for you and your baby.

Remember, every pregnancy is unique, and what works for one mum-to-be might not be the right choice for another. Trust your instincts, listen to your body, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or voice your concerns.

As you prepare for the arrival of your little one, take comfort in knowing that you’re equipped with the knowledge and understanding of different methods to induce labour. Whether you opt for a natural approach or require medical assistance, the ultimate goal is a safe and healthy delivery for both you and your baby.

Embrace this incredible journey, and know that you’ve got the strength and resilience to handle whatever comes your way. Your baby will be in your arms before you know it, and all the waiting and anticipation will be worth it in the end.

After you have had bubs consider having your new baby photography by Kapture Photography