Herbs to Induce Labor

You may have heard that there are herbs to induce labor and you have heard correctly. Herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years for all kinds of things – including inducing labor.

Today, you can easily purchase herbal remedies in many grocery stores. They can be found as bulk herbs, tablets, capsules, tinctures (liquid in alcohol), etc. Herbs come in various potencies and can be used for various categories.

While herbal remedies have been proven safe, this does not mean they are not potent. While pregnant, anything that goes into – or on – your body must be used with caution – including water! For this reason, there are several things you should keep in mind:

  1. Not all herbs are created equal, be very sure of your supplier as plant materials can be contaminated.
  2. For a list of herbs to be avoided or used with caution while pregnant Click Here.
  3.  Always check with your birth attendant before taking anything.
  4. Never try to induce labor before 37 weeks and then never do it for convenience – or impatience – alone. Even natural inductions are not as safe as letting nature follow its course.
  5. While safer than drugs, plants are not necessarily safe.
  6. Herbs can produce unpredictable results. Why? Because you are an individual, no one knows how an herb – or drug – will affect you.

Now this does not mean, you should be afraid of using herbs altogether. Caution and common sense will most certainly keep you out of trouble.



Herbs to Induce Labor

Herbs to Induce Labor

First the myth….

Red raspberry leaf will NOT induce labor. It is a toning herb which as been used for centuries and is very safe. Read more. There are other toning herbs that can be use safely in pregnancy and these will not induce labor.

Now, there are other herbs which have been used to start labor with some measure of success:


Herbs to Induce Labor: Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is known to make contractions more effective. It is usually used in a tincture form. A tincture is an alcohol based formula in which the herbs have been macerated. Remember not all tinctures are equally potent, use a reputable supplier.

The problem with black cohosh is most of the literature is hear say as no studies have been done to confirm that it is safe or effective. Some midwives believe that black cohosh can lead to excessive bleeding after birth as this herb has shown to have a thinning action on your blood.


Herbs to Induce Labor: Blue Cohosh

Blue cohosh is said to strengthen contractions. Blue and black cohosh seem to work more effectively together as they seem to act synergistically.


Blue and Black Cohosh Protocol

  • Take 10 to 15 drops of blue cohosh tincture in warm water every hour.
  • Take 5 to 10 drops of the black cohosh in warm water every half hour.
  • Do this until your contractions start OR for one day – 12 hours. If you do not go into labor after 12 hours, take a rest. You may give it a try again on the third day.


Herbs to Induce Labor: Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil contains a fatty acid that helps to stimulate prostaglandins production. Prostaglandins are hormones which increase uterine contractions as well as ripen your cervix.

Evening primrose oil capsules can be used by mouth starting at 36 or 37 weeks – the standard amount is 500 g. They can also be inserted in your vagina AFTER the 40th week if you cervix is not yet ripe.

Be sure to discuss any herbal remedies with your midwife – or doctor – before attempting to use them. The bottom line is that you should always be cautious and you should never try to induce unless there is a very valid reason to do so…all of our choices have consequences.


Natural Pregnancy Story by Florence

I have known of various people who have had to try to induce labor. One of them was a very close friend of mine whose midwife was going to transfer care to the hospital because she was 42 weeks and a VBAC. After a few days of the cohosh protocol, she did go into labor.

The labor was long and irregular while not particularly hard. She also had to walk or the contractions would stop.

She did end up bleeding a tad more than she should have.

For her, this was a better option than an unnatural induction…it was not her first choice though which would have been to be left alone.


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