Can I induce labor myself?

Q: People keep giving me tips on how to induce labor on my own. Does any of it really work?

A: There's certainly no shortage of old wives' tales when it comes to kicking off labor, which are understandably tempting when you're dying to get that baby out of you already. Although well-meaning friends and family members may coax you with tales of how they induced their own labors, remember that most DIY techniques don't work reliably and some can actually be dangerous if done without proper monitoring. We don't recommend you attempt things that may stimulate contractions, like having a spoonful of castor oil, drinking certain herbal tinctures, or rubbing your nipples. Triggering contractions won't necessarily start labor if your body's not otherwise prepared (i.e., your cervix is dilated, your baby's dropping in your pelvis, etc.) and can actually cause your baby distress if they're too strong. For your own health and the health of your baby, it's best to leave the decision to induce labor up to your doctor or good old Mother Nature.

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