Old wives' tales on how to get labor going
We'd be surprised if you had not heard about these yet, but we will mention them anyway. Having sex is said to be able to send you into labor. Why? For several reasons, actually! Prostaglandins that are present in semen can stimulate and ripen the cervix, which can trigger labor. Orgasms can help you get contractions going. Eating spicy foods can encourage a total body clean out. The cramps that can be triggered in your bowels can also cause contractions according to some. Walking as much as possible and eating pineapple in huge quantities are other suggestions. At the moment, there is no real evidence that doing any of these generally means you will go into labor soon, but you can certainly try any of the suggestions mentioned without risk to yourself or your baby.
Sweeping a woman's membranes can encourage labor when the baby is already good to go. If not, the membranes can simply reattach. Another induction method that does not involve any medications, herbal or allopathic, is breaking your bag of waters (see Should you allow your waters to be broken artificially?). With artificial rupture of membranes, if labor does not start fairly soon afterwards, the chance of infection goes up and you will require further interventions to start labor. Natural labor induction can also include very serious herbal treatments. The most popular ones are castor oil and blue cohosh. Castor oil can have especially bad side effects like nausea, vomiting, and cramps. Dizziness and itching are also not uncommon. Blue cohosh seems to be milder. Rare side effects are urticaria, which can include breathing trouble and swollen lips.