Your anticipation of going into labor as you near your due date is completely natural. However, labor can be unpredictable. The fear of not making it to the hospital in time during pregnancy is common, but you may also experience the opposite. This means, your labor may also take a long time to progress. Possibly you have heard that certain foods will speed up labor. Having sex or walking or jogging around may also do the trick. There are a few methods you can employ to help labor in its early stages or to speed up labor that is not progressing.
What Is Dilation?
Cervical dilation is the process of the cervix opening. The dilation and effacement are associated with thinning of the cervix. The purpose of dilation is to provide an opening between your uterus and the birth canal so that your baby can be delivered. To deliver via vaginal delivery, the cervix must be dilated by 10 centimeters (cm) and effaced completely1.
Several weeks before labor begins, the cervix can dilate up to one centimeter. Dilation of this magnitude only indicates the cervix is beginning to prepare for labor. When the cervix is 1 cm dilated, it is not necessary to worry about how to speed up labor.
It is common for people to mistake the first contraction or the breaking of their water as signs that labor has begun, which is in actual one of the false signs of labor that one must be aware of. In reality, labor begins only after your cervix is at least three to four centimeters dilated, which is known as the “active” phase or the beginning phase of labor.
The first stage of labor can be further divided into two phases depending on the degree of cervical dilation. During the latent phase, the cervix dilates from 0 to 6 cm, while the active phase begins once the dilation reaches 6 cm and continues to full cervical dilation (10 cm)2.
After entering your first stage of labor and if progress is not being made as expected, it was time to accept ways to speed up the labor process. Once the cervix is dilated how to speed up labor is a natural concern.
Can I Make My Labor Progress Faster?
If your baby is fine, and your cervix is slowly opening up, even if it’s slow, it may be best to let the labor begin naturally as there are certain risks of inducing labor too soon. Pregnancies are not all the same and the pace of labor can vary even for the same woman with a different pregnancy.
On the other hand, if the mother is so exhausted that she desperately wants the labor to progress fast and deliver the baby as soon as possible, there is no harm in trying natural ways to speed up labor. Wondering what helps speed up labor. Well, there are many ways of speeding up labor naturally.
Safe And Natural Ways To Speed Up Labor
It is common for women to seek out natural or non-medical methods to speed up labor. Before trying to speed up labor, you should speak with a healthcare professional. You should consider several factors before proceeding. You should take into account the fetal position, as well as any pregnancy complications.
Depending on the situation, one or more of the following methods can be used to speed up labor at home or in the hospital.
1. Standing and walking
Gravity is a major benefit of standing during labor. This encourages the baby’s advancement into the pelvis and increases pressure on the cervix. You can reap the benefits of movement if you can get up and walk around. Standing and moving during labor can shorten labor, reduce pain, are less likely to need medical intervention, and are more satisfied with the birth experience3.
2. Changing positions
In the case where your baby’s position is preventing labor progress, changing your position can enable them to move into the best position to pass through your pelvis as labor continues. Positioning during labor affects uterine contractions, fetal wellbeing, the comfort of the mother, and the progression of labor.
If you do not move much during labor, you may have difficulties. It is necessary to change positions or postures so that the baby comes to an optimal position for delivery. Your baby adjusts to the best position for labor as you move. As a result, the baby descends into the pelvis and applies pressure to the cervix.
There are certain positions to speed up labor. According to studies, sitting upright on a birth ball during the first stage of labor, and performing pelvic rocking exercises, allows the abdomen to act like a hammock, helping to settle the baby into an anterior position. Further, pelvic rock relieves lower back tension, resulting in a faster labor progression with less medical intervention and greater comfort for the mother.
A peanut ball is a type of exercise therapy ball that can also be used to ease and speed labor, especially if the baby’s position is causing a delay4. Your support person or nurse can help you move side to side or sit up if you have an epidural and are unable to change positions safely on your own.
Related Reading: 8 Tips To Cope With Anxiety During Pregnancy Third Trimester
3. Massage and acupressure
An effective method of speeding up stalled labor is to use pressure. The benefits of general massage may include relaxation, pain relief, and even the acceleration of labor. On the other hand, acupressure has been proven more effective at speeding up labor.
When acupressure is applied to certain points on the due mother’s body, oxytocin is released into her body, resulting in contractions. Acupressure can be applied by a professional or by a birth doula who gets training in acupressure.
During early or active labor, firm pressure may be applied for 5 minutes on each point every 1-2 hours. When we say “firm pressure,” we mean consistent, constant pressure, not massage or rubbing. However, rubbing and massage along with consistent pressure are fine if the mother finds them more relaxing. The three primary pressure points are as follows5:
- Spleen-6, located above the inner ankle bone. It is just behind the tibia bone of the lower leg
- Large intestine-4, located between the thumb and index finger on the backside of the hand
- Gallbladder 21 is located at the highest point of the shoulder muscle
4. Nipple stimulation
Nipple stimulation is a natural way to speed up labor at home. When the breasts are stimulated, oxytocin is released, which causes contractions and accelerates labor. You can stimulate your nipples by massaging or twisting them, but not to the point of hurting them.
The easiest way to massage your nipples is either with your fingers or by using a breast pump. Taking a warm shower will also stimulate the breasts as the waterfalls and moves down the breasts6.
Related Reading: Sore And Cracked Nipples- 15 Indian Home Remedies
5. Consume castor oil
A conventional method of starting labor involved the use of castor oil. One study reported that 57.7% of the women who consumed castor oil experienced labor within 24 hours. Another study discovered 65 percent of women went into labor within 48 hours after drinking castor oil.
Castor oil needs to be mixed with orange juice and baking soda (since plain castor oil is unpalatable). You should drink it every half hour, but only one ounce at a time. This increases cervical dilation and stimulates contractions. When combined with other things, like nipple stimulation, it can speed up labor. As mentioned earlier, it could speed up labor overnight.
6. Exercises and stretches to speed up labor
Trying a few specific exercises may be necessary if walking or other mild movements are ineffective for speeding up labor.
· Labor lunges
A labor lunge is different from a regular lunge. The lunge is a technique for opening up the mid-pelvis between the ischial spines. The narrowest part of the pelvis and the pelvic outlet is opened as the laboring woman leans towards her foot7.
Women who are laboring can use this method as long as they can stand up and place one foot on a stool or chair. Do it during regular contractions. Lunges work best when performed with moderate to strong contractions. This is due to the rotational power of contractions. The lunge helps:
- Rotating or descending an occiput posterior baby
- The descendant of an asynclitic baby. (A baby positioned in the womb with its head tilted to one side. This means that its head is not aligned with the birth canal)
- Get your labor moving again by overcoming a stall
Squatting helps open up your pelvis and makes it easier for your baby to descend8. Labor can be accelerated by this exercise. Maintain a parallel position with your feet and use adequate support while performing this exercise.
· Butterflies stretch
Your back, thighs, and pelvic muscles will be strengthened by this stretch. It will also help keep your pelvis flexible and improve your posture. Doing this stretch will speed up your labor. Lie on the floor with your feet touching each other. Slowly push your knees to the ground and hold them there. Be careful not to bounce your knees up and down, as this will strain your muscles9.
· Birth ball exercises
Labor can be accelerated by using an exercise ball. The hip and lower back muscles can be soothed by sitting on the ball or rolling it from side to side while sitting on it. Just bouncing up and down causes the baby to descend towards the pelvic area. This will facilitate an easy and quick delivery. Make sure you are holding on to someone while exercising10.
Related Reading: Packing Hospital Bag For Delivery — Things To Know
During pregnancy, women who received acupuncture had a higher chance of going into labor naturally, thereby reducing the chances of needing a cesarean delivery11.
The use of acupuncture to induce labor is recommended only if the expectant mother is at least 40 weeks pregnant – applying it earlier might be potentially dangerous because it might encourage labor too early. Moreover, instead of performing it on one’s own, one should allow a trained and skilled acupuncturist to do so. It is essential to use disposable, pre-sterilized needles and maintain strict hygiene to prevent any infection later on. Acupuncture is simply a way to stimulate the progression of natural labor. The effects vary from person to person and situation to situation.
During labor, a woman’s position, mobility, fear, and anxiety or, conversely, her confidence may impact her experience of pain. By laughing, you can reduce stress and fear. Even temporary relief can relax the body and promote dilating. A stalled or slow labor could lead to the need for medical intervention, such as a Cesarean section. Even though there is no magic button for inducing labor, some women wish to induce labor naturally. Of course, each mother is different and one should always consult a doctor first to make sure they’re not doing anything harmful to themselves or their babies.
One cm of dilated cervix indicates your body is preparing for labor or is at the beginning stages of labor. The dilation rate of your cervix is impossible to predict.
The process can take hours. Or it could take days or even weeks.
Dilation occurs at a rate of 0.5 cm per hour in normal labor over 4 hours. When it dilates slower than this, it is considered slow labor.
To determine if you are having slow labor, usually, doctors give you a four-hour window.