Midwives Brew: Does It Really Work to Induce Labor?

Young beautiful pregnant girl drinking tea in her home during daytime.

  • Midwives brew is a special tea that is said to induce labor in expecting mothers. 
  • Midwives brew is a mixture of castor oil, nut butter, juice, and tea. 
  • Midwives brew may cause diarrhea, cramping, and painful contractions. 
  • Do not use midwives brew if you are less than 40 weeks pregnant, have placenta previa, or your baby is not in the correct position for delivery. 
  • Consult your doctor before doing anything to induce labor at home.

Whether you feel like pregnancy is a magical time, or a painful experience, going past your due date will make any expecting mother feel antsy. When you just can’t wait one more minute to meet your new baby, you might be willing to try almost anything to induce labor. 

At 41 weeks, my pregnant friend could be found doing all kinds of different things trying to put herself into labor. She spent hours walking around the block, eating Thai food, bouncing on an exercise ball, and drinking different smoothies from online recipes. When she finally went into labor, we had no idea which strategy finally did the trick. 

A quick internet search brings up hundreds of tips to get your body into labor and bring your baby into the world a little faster. Some seem reasonable, and some seem crazy. Some are just fun ways to pass the time while you are waiting to meet your new baby.  One of the most popular labor inducing tools is Midwives brew, but does it really work to induce labor?

Midwives Brew: What’s It All About?

What is midwives brew?

Midwives brew, also known as the “German labor cocktail,” is a popular tea blend that is often recommended to pregnant women at the end of their pregnancy. This mixture is thought to have originated in Europe and has been used by midwives for centuries.

Why midwives brew is used

If you have been pregnant before, you know that the last few weeks of pregnancy are tough. You feel like you have been pregnant forever, you are uncomfortable, and you just want to meet your little baby. Mothers past their due date get especially tired of waiting and turn to midwives brew as a natural method to induce labor. 

Midwives brew is used to help with cervical ripening. This is the process of thinning, dilating, and softening the cervix so your baby can come out. It is also used to stimulate the muscles in the uterus and help them contract. These contractions are what help you push your baby out. 

Pregnant woman sitting on a leather sofa enjoying music and black tea.

What’s in Midwives Brew?

Midwives brew is a mixture of natural ingredients like teas, oils, and juice that are supposed to stimulate your uterine tissue to start contracting. 

Ingredient List

To make the midwives brew recipe, combine the following ingredients in a blender until smooth, then drink on an empty stomach. 

  • 2tbs castor oil
  • 2 tbs Almond butter 
  • 8oz lemon verbena tea
  • 10oz apricot juice 

Castor Oil

Castor oil is the main active ingredient in midwives brew. It is actually a laxative used to relieve constipation and help people prepare for bowel surgery. It stimulates the uterine tissue to contract in a similar way that it makes the intestines contract. 2 tbsp of castor oil is all you need. 

Almond Butter

Almond butter is said to reduce spasms in your uterus making the contractions less painful. The fat in the almond butter is supposed to slow the digestion of the castor oil, helping it stay in your gut for longer. There is very little scientific evidence to support either of these claims. Peanut butter works as a substitute for almond butter.

Apricot juice

Apricot juice is mainly used to hide the castor oil flavor. While it does have some vitamins and minerals good for a mom and her growing baby, apricot juice does not do anything to promote labor: Pineapple juice or mango nectar can be used instead of apricot juice. 

There is some anecdotal evidence stating that pineapple juice helps to soften the cervix and stimulate the uterine wall. 

Even with the addition of your favorite juice, castor oil has a strong flavor. If you are sensitive to smells, the drink might be intolerable with or without the juice.

Lemon Verbena Tea

Pure lemon verbena tea is a mild laxative that can induce labor similar to the way castor oil does. It is also a relaxing tea that can help soften your cervix. Let the tea bag sit in hot water for 3 to 5 minutes and let it cool before blending it with the other ingredients. 

Spicy food

While spicy food isn’t an official ingredient of midwives brew, eating spicy food with your brew might increase your chances of going into labor. It is said that spicy food irritates the gut and stimulates uterine contractions. 

Spicy food is a much gentler induction method than castor oil. You may want to try eating some chips and salsa before turning to midwives brew.

How to Use Midwives Brew

You won’t keep midwives brew as one of the snacks for your hospital bag. The ingredients in midwives brew are meant to get things started, but they won’t help you progress any faster once your contractions have become regular. In fact, drinking midwives brew while you’re already in labor can make your contractions too strong and close together. 

When to start drinking midwives brew 

You should start drinking midwives brew when you are ready to go into labor and have at least reached your baby’s due date. Try to be patient, and wait as long as you can before you start trying to jump start your labor. 

Do not try to induce labor until you have consulted your provider. Just because you have reached your due date does not automatically mean that you and your baby are ready for labor and delivery. 

The best time to start drinking your brew is when you feel ready, you have reached or passed your due date, your doctor agrees, and your baby has grown well and gotten into a good position. 

If you are ready, drink your mixture first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Try to finish the entire drink in 30 minutes. Don’t force yourself to drink it faster if you get nauseous. 

How much to take 

The total mixture will be about 20oz drink the entire thing, and do not make another one for at least 48 hours. Because castor oil can stimulate contractions, taking too much is dangerous. It may make your contractions come too close together, which is dangerous for both you and your baby. 

Time to effectiveness

Moat people who use this brew state that their labor started within 24 hours after drinking it. One study showed that women who were past their due date were three times more likely to start labor within 12 hours of drinking castor oil than those who did not drink anything. 

Drinking this tea after you lose mucus plug is even more likely to be effective, since your body is already showing some signs of early labor. 

Is Midwives Brew Really Effective at Inducing Labor?

The jury is mixed on the results of midwives brew. Some studies show that it is effective, and some do not. Online, many mothers share their success stories after the use of castor oil. However, besides nausea, no studies have reported severe side effects in healthy, full-term mothers who use a midwives brew to jumpstart their labor. So if you want to try it with your doctor’s approval, it is worth a shot! 

You can combine midwives brew with other natural labor inducing strategies like sex, curb walking, and acupressure to increase your chances of going into labor. 

Midwife or nurse and pregnant woman in delivery room of hospital.

Is It Safe to Use Midwives Brew?

Doctor Recommendations

Most likely, your medical provider will encourage you to try to be patient. Due dates are an educated guess and every pregnancy is different. For healthy pregnancies, expecting mothers can go up to two weeks past their due date before induction is recommended. 

Early induction for medical problems like preeclampsia, oligohydramnios, or diabetes should be medically supervised. Do not try to take care of those issues at home on your own. 

Negative Side Effects

The ingredients in midwives brew are generally safe. However, like anything, there is risk of side effects. 

  1. Severe Diarrhea
  2. Cramping
  3. Dehydration 
  4. Painful contractions 
  5. Nausea and vomiting 

Most of these are caused by the castor oil in midwives brew. Several small studies have shown that 100% of women feel nausea after drinking midwives brew. Dehydration is usually a secondary side effect caused by the throwing up and diarrhea. 


Never try to induce labor if you are less than 40 weeks pregnant. Going into labor early is risky for you and your new baby. Even things like losing your mucus plug early create risk of infection and complications. 

Do not drink midwives brew if you have been diagnosed with placenta previa. 

If you know that your baby is not in the correct position for labor, wait until the baby has turned before you start your drink. 

Use caution if you are attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean, since too strong of contractions increases the chance of re-opening your incision. 


What medicines are used in a hospital to induce labor?

If you have a scheduled induction, or your body needs help during labor, your doctor can give you a drug called Pitocin. This drug is given through an IV and helps your uterus contract harder to get your baby out. This medicine can also be used after delivery to help the uterus shrink back down and stop postpartum hemorrhage. Side effects include nausea, painful contractions, and irritation at the injection site. 

How can you induce labor naturally?

Drinking midwives brew is one of the most effective ways to naturally induce labor. You can also try exercising, having sex, nipple stimulation, and eating spicy food to induce labor. Some women claim that doing something exciting or stressful has put them into labor. Going to a sports game or a concert when you are overdue for delivery can be a fun way to pass the time and might help you go into labor. Just make sure you have your hospital bag packed before you head out on your fun night! 

When can labor be induced?

You should not try to induce labor without your doctors approval. Unless you are in a special circumstance, do not try to induce labor before your due date. Always discuss your options with your care provider before taking action. 

How long does it take to give birth after being induced?

The time it take from the start of labor to baby’s birth is different for everyone. It could be as fast as a few hours and you could be in labor for a full day or more. There is no way to know how long your labor will last.

Midwives Brew: Does It Really Work to Induce Labor Pin

The information WonderBaby provides is not intended to be, and does not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. Always consult with a qualified medical professional about your specific circumstances.

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