Overdue? 12 things you can try to bring on labour naturally from a Doula

“Many moms become anxious when they’re 40 weeks pregnant and there’s still no sign of baby arriving any time soon. We’re not really sure why some babies come late, but sometime it’s because birth dates are miscalculated,” says registered nurse and midwife, Sister Burgie Ireland.

She adds that first babies often come a few days to two weeks late because a new mom’s muscles and ligaments are still firm and tight, which means labour takes longer to get started.

The last weeks of pregnancy are really uncomfortable, and if you’re overdue, even more so. If you don’t want to ask your doctor to induce labour, you can try these tips from trained Doula and hypnobirthing teacher at For Modern Moms, Susan Bradley to bring on labour naturally.

ALSO SEE: What is an induction and when is it necessary? 

Susan says it’s really important to clear any type of induction technique with your midwife or doctor before giving them a go.

Relax in a warm bath

Anything that relaxes you and increases your oxytocin levels can help to bring on labour (if you’re over your due date that is). Run a warm bath with some relaxing essentials oils, light some candles and a diffuser and listen to a couple of your favourite relaxing songs. “Close your eyes and use the visualisation technique of taking yourself to your own relaxed or special space,” says Susan.

Let go of fear

The stress hormone adrenalin can prevent labour from starting (weird right – you’d think that stress would bring on labour). If you have any fears about the birth or parenting, write them down or talk to your partner about them. “Fear can have a profound effect on how the subconscious mind feels about starting the process of labour,” explains Susan. “Remember it needs to feel like it’s ‘safe’ to release your baby into the world.”

Clary Sage Essential Oil might help

It’s REALLY IMPORTANT that you only use this essential oil if you’re full term (that is 37 – 42 weeks). You can use this in your electric diffuser when you have your bath, pour a couple of drops on a cloth and sniff it, or just put a couple of drops in your bath.


The director of Genesis Maternity Clinic in Joburg, Jude Polack says reflexology with a properly trained and experienced reflexologist can also help bring on labour. “Relaxing, getting pampered, nurtured and cared for will all help to boost your body’s oxytocin levels,” says Susan.

Have a good laugh

Put on your favourite comedy show or movie and have a good laugh. When you laugh, you produce happy hormones which prevents your body from producing stress hormones. Susan says feeling safe and relaxed are great tonics for the anxiety that can start to creep in during the last days of pregnancy.

Get frisky with your partner

The hormone oxytocin is released when you kiss, hug, have sex or an orgasm with the person you love – and this is exactly the hormone you need to kickstart labour.

ALSO SEE: Best sex positions during pregnancy

Eat your favourite meal

It doesn’t have to be spicy – as long as it’s something you enjoy eating. Eating delicious food surrounded by people who love you and having a good time will all help you feel happy – releasing the oxytocin hormone. Go to a restaurant with friends and family, or order your favourite meal in.

Visualise holding your baby

Close your eyes and imagine holding your baby, really visualise what he or she looks like, how much hair they have, their tiny fingers and toes. “Talk to your baby and tell him it’s safe and you’re so looking forward to meeting him,” says Susan.

Get a massage

Ask your partner to give you a massage or if you feel like you need a bit of pampering, head to a spa near you that specialises in pregnancy massage. The rhythmical strokes of hands over your skin will make you feel relaxed releasing – you guessed it – the feel-good hormone oxytocin.

ALSO SEE: The benefits of pregnancy massage for mom and baby

Show off your dance moves

Put on some happy, dance music and dance like no one is watching. “Moving, swaying and moving your hips and pelvis will encourage your baby’s head down into your pelvis,” says Susan. Dancing will also release that feel-good hormone we’re all very familiar with by now.

Nipple stimulation

Definitely check this with your doctor or midwife first as this method may or may not be safe for you to try depending on your medical history. If you have a high risk pregnancy, definitely don’t try this method. Rubbing or rolling your nipples helps your body to release oxytocin, which plays a role in initiating labour. According to research, stimulating your breasts may also help to bring on full labour and birth.

“Use your fingers, a breast pump, or even your partner’s mouth to stimulate your nipples. If you have an older baby or toddler who is still nursing, that might also provide good stimulation,” says Susan. Don’t forget the areola – use your fingers or palm and gently rub your areola through thin material – or directly on the skin.

Don’t overstimulate either – do one breast at a time for five minutes and wait 15 minutes before trying again. If you start having contractions, take a break from nipple stimulation and stop completely when contractions are three minutes apart or less, and one minute in length or longer.

Go for a walk

Getting outside in nature can help release that ever-important feel-good hormone and even stop you from going crazy while impatiently waiting for your baby’s arrival. “The movement of walking can help babies head position down into your pelvis too,” says Susan.

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