Monday, March 12, 2012

Evening Primrose for Labor

I have a history of "overdue" babies--three of my five labors were induced. This pregnancy I am being proactive. My midwives and my doula both suggested trying Evening Primrose. It doesn't start labor but assists in softening the cervix in preparation for labor.

In addition to labor, Evening Primrose has an array of uses for women's reproductive health issues. Natural Family Today states that, "Evening Primrose Oil, also referred to as EPO, is oil from the evening primrose plant. Evening Primrose is one of the oldest known plant remedies to be used for pregnancy, and was used by Native Americans. Evening Primrose is not just for pregnancy. It is commonly used to ease uncomfortable symptoms of menstruation, ovulation, and menopause, among other things. Some women have found it particularly effective in boosting fertility and achieving pregnancy. It’s also safe for use while breastfeeding."

How to Use Evening Primrose Oil to Start Labor

According to the National Institutes of Health, evening primrose oil is high in prostaglandins and contains gamma-linolenic acid, a type of omega-6 fatty acid. Prostaglandins soften the cervix so that it is ripe to begin dilation and effacement as labor progresses; they are naturally produced in higher amounts by the body in preparation for labor and delivery. The use of evening primrose oil to start labor has been around for a long time, and many midwives swear by this technique when helping pregnant patients prepare for delivery. Evening primrose oil does not directly trigger the start of labor, but works by softening and ripening the cervix. This allows the baby's head to engage in the pelvis, encouraging dilation. Not everyone agrees that evening primrose oil will help to soften the cervix.


  1. Visit your obstetrician for permission to use evening primrose oil to start labor, and to make certain your membranes are intact. The introduction of any substance into the vagina, or through the cervix, after a tear or rupture in your membranes may result in a serious infection that could put you and your baby at risk.
  2. Take two 500 mg capsules of evening primrose daily, as soon as 36 weeks' gestation. This will help slowly ripen and soften your cervix, but will not cause you to go into preterm labor.
  3. Increase the amount of capsules you are taking each day to three or four when you reach 38 weeks' gestation. Decrease your dose if you experience nausea or diarrhea, which are two common side effects of evening primrose oil.
  4. Insert a capsule into your vagina before bed each night throughout the last few weeks of your pregnancy. This should be done immediately before bed, as your body heat will dissolve the capsule and the oil will leak out of your vagina if you walk around.
  5. Use evening primrose oil as part of a perineal massage. Have your partner help you with this, if possible. Numerous studies, including one published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, show that daily massage of the perineum during the last month of pregnancy reduces the likelihood that an episiotomy will be needed during delivery.
I bought my bottle at Walmart for $5.88. My doula used this method and says she swears by it :)  We'll see what what happens!