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Natural induction methods are often used by women who also desire to have doulas.  In my doula certification course, methods of induction are presented so that the doula can help provide information to the birthing mother.  The doula must be careful, though, not to advise a particular method, and should always refer their clients to their chosen care provider for medical advise.  She must also make sure that her information is as accurate as possible.  When it comes to non-medical methods of induction, there has not been a lot of research done to support or refute them.  This should be conveyed to the mother if she is going to be able to assess her choices accurately.  Helping to present information accurately without bias is one way that doulas are able to support women.

Keep in mind that when we discuss induction of labor and the signs of progression of labor, there are many indications that show a woman is progressing.

(To learn the early signs of labor and how to cope with them, Click Here!)


Primrose Oil for Induction of Labor

What it is:

Evening primrose is a plant that was used by the Native Americans for various ailments, but it  is also used by many midwives today to prepare the body for labor.  It has chemicals that are part of the production of prostiglandins which are hormones that help soften the cervix.  Some believe that taking primrose oil helps to release these prostiglandins, thus providing a way to soften the cervix earlier.

What the research says: 

There is not a whole lot of research on evening primrose oil, and the research that I’ve seen shows no effect on the length of labor or starting labor.  One small study also showed an increase in the bag of waters breaking when women took evening primrose oil.


There is no standard dosage, but 500-2000mg daily after 38 weeks has been suggested.  The capsules can be taken orally or vaginally. Make sure that a medical professional is consulted before taking these.

Possible Benefits:

The benefit appears to be in it’s ability to soften the cervix, thus preparing the body for labor.  The idea is that it may keep the woman from going overdue, or help shorten the labor.

Side Effects:

May cause an upset stomach or nausea and vomiting.  There is possibility of premature rupture of membranes (based off of one small study).

What the Doula can do when her client is using primrose oil

-Provide your client with as accurate information as possible

-Help the your client work through the pros and cons of this method

-Encourage your client to also take care of herself, as this helps the body work better regardless of what else the mom is doing

-Provide some ways to help decrease stress and anxiety as this inhibits labor and is often a part of women’s lives when they are feeling pressured(from themselves or a care provider) to have their baby soon

-Continue to remind them of the different ways their body is preparing to have this baby.  So often we focus on dilation, but that is really one of the last ways your body prepares and it’s overused as a method of judging when the baby is going to be born.  Focus instead on the baby moving down, the cevix softening, any increases in contractions (even braxton hicks).


Learn more about how our body naturally begins labor.

Free E-book


Evidence Based Birth (registered) provides a great video on the evidence of using Evening Primrose Oil.






Dove D, Johnson P.Oral evening primrose oil: its effect on length of pregnancy and selected intrapartum outcomes in low-risk nulliparous women. J Nurse Midwifery. 1999 May-Jun;44(3):320-4.


Medical Disclaimer:
This blog is meant for informational and demonstrative purposes only and may not be used to replace, override, or substitute the advice of a qualified physician or midwife.  New Beginnings Doula Training cannot be held responsible for any adverse effects resulting from use of information contained within blog.



Follow Rachel Leavitt:

Rachel has worked as a register nurse (BSN from University of Utah) since 2004 with a work history in Labor and Delivery, NICU and Postpartum Care. She is also the founder of New Beginnings Doula Training which she organized in 2011. When she's not busy being a mother and grandmother, she can be found reading research papers related to some aspect of childbirth.

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