What do pregnant elephants and Kenyan women have in common?

By Floor Tuinstra

What do pregnant elephants and Kenyan women have in common?

What do pregnant elephants eat to induce labour?

Can you do that yourself or do you need help?

Elephants can sometimes gobble up an entire bush of the boraginaceae plant and then give birth 3 days later. It seems like that’s a long time in between, but since they’re 22 months pregnant, that’s relatively short. Kenyan women also use this boraginaceae plant to induce labor and for an abortion. A strong concentration of these plants grows in the Mediterranean, where it is also used by Mediterranean women for this type of purpose.
Perhaps, when it comes to ourselves, we can also look at what nature offers us, but how can you induce labor if we don’t have such a plant at our disposal?

Known home remedies for naturally inducing labor

Many home remedies are known, for example:

  • Raspberry leaf tea
  • Eating dates
  • Sex
  • Stripping the membranes
  • Nipple stimulation
  • Walking

Stripping is still a bit too invasive for many, not everyone wants to have sex with their partner and not every woman needs nipple stimulation.

Some can drink raspberry leaf tea for weeks without noticing any effect and ladies with gestational diabetes should be careful about eating dates. Walking does not work for everyone, especially if there is pelvic instability or a painful pelvic area.

I personally think walking is a very good activity to continue the descent of your baby downwards, if you can do it physically I would definitely do this.

But what if all this doesn’t work for you (yet), or if this isn’t your thing?


You don’t really need much except for your hands to induce labor naturally. With the knowledge of a few techniques that show you where you can treat yourself or your partner, you can get started yourself.

Many obstetricians are already familiar with it; foot reflexology. And let that be my field of expertise.


During my pregnancies, I found a visit to the foot reflexologist a bliss. I would have preferred to go every day, but that became an expensive hobby. Fortunately, I was able to show my husband a few simple techniques, so that I also received a treatment from him every evening outside of the foot reflexology treatments. It was so relaxing.

A friend of mine enjoyed applying the techniques herself on the couch.

Towards the end of my 2nd pregnancy, I went to my foot reflexologist once a week for treatment.

Now that I am no longer pregnant, I still go to the foot reflexologist once a month. For me there is no better form of massage to discharge of any accumulated stress in my body and mind.


What can you do if there is no foot reflexologist near you that you can visit in the short term or if you want your partner to treat you or to massage yourself? The techniques that I have shown to my husband, girlfriend and clients have recently also been described in a book so that you can get started. In Inducing childbirth naturally with acupressure and foot reflexology , 14 techniques are described to continue the descent of your baby downwards, to be able to let go (both mentally and physically), for more energy (both for you and the baby), to promote dilation, more relaxation and experience less stress and more tips and experiences from clients can be found in this book. Unfortunately it has not yet been translated to English and is only available in Dutch at the moment.

1 technique needed

There are a number of points around the ankle that you should not treat during pregnancy and elsewhere on your body there are also a number of those acupressure points. But towards the end if you want to slowly prepare your body for giving birth, these points are recommended. That does not mean that childbirth will start immediately. Ultimately, the child decides when it comes. And it also differs per mother and in which stadion she is in her pregnancy.

But sometimes someone only needs 1 technique.

Like Wendy one of my clients and later also a student.

At 41 weeks, the interventions that would take place if the baby had not yet arrived at 42 weeks were discussed with her by her midwife. She didn’t feel like any of those. But there was still no signs of the start of labor. She only used the technique ‘The nest‘. Her mother once told her about this, that you can also regulate your cycle with this. This is a technique that stimulates the uterine reflex zone on the foot, and within 3.5 hours the contractions started and she gave birth naturally at 41 weeks and 3 days.

The nest

Copyright Floor Tuinstra
Copyright Floor Tuinstra

Where is the nest and how can you treat it?

This point is safe to treat from 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Location: It is located on the inside of the foot between the ankle bone and the heel.

Sit on the bed or on the sofa and put the foot you are going to massage in front of you, as shown in the picture. Use your thumb or fingers to apply moderate to deep pressure and massage the point for 30 seconds. Repeat this on the other foot as well. If the point is very sensitive, you can pause. You can increase the duration if it feels good. Up to 1 or 2 minutes.

Fun fact: as I described earlier in Wendy’s story, you can also use this point to regulate your cycle. Suppose your cycle does not start, you could massage this point. In addition to other techniques, I always use these for clients who come by for a fertility journey.

NIBY’S® treatment and course

Many mothers-to-be come to my practice through the midwives. Florence (midwife herself) recently came by for a NIBY’S® treatment and at the first touch I told her ‘this baby has descended really well’. To which she immediately exclaimed: ‘How do you know that when you have barely touched me and how long do I have to study to be able to feel what you feel?’.

Thanks to the experience I have built up, I can already feel at the first touch whether a baby has descended properly or not. As a professional, would you also want to learn how you can get started with your clients? The first NIBY’S® courses are planned for 2023:

NIBY’S®-Course for Therapists

Find all courses here.

NIBY’S®-Course for mothers and partners

As a mother or as a partner/supporter of the mother, would you like to know how you can get started yourself and learn more about this in practice? Send an email to info@floortuinstra.nl.