Pregnant women usually have of concerns regarding labor. One of these concerns is related to labor induction. This is the process in which contractions in the uterine wall are promoted in order to start labor. It can be done naturally or through medication. As a pregnant woman nearing the due date, you may often look up different ways to dilate yourself to jump-start labor. You must have come across many different methods, like exercise, nipple stimulation, acupuncture, and warm baths. But you may still be unsure if these methods will work.
Are you looking for natural ways to dilate yourself before labor? Are you unsure if warm baths really help in dilation for labor? There is no need for you to worry as we are here to answer all of your questions.
Though taking hot baths during pregnancy has a lot of benefits, such as helping you calm down, there is no scientific evidence proving the correlation between hot baths and induced labor. Warm baths are said to promote relaxation in your body which in turn helps to encourage oxytocin release. As a result, it helps in labor.
Your body tenses up when under stress as a part of its natural defense mechanism, and starting contractions under stress can be hard. In addition to warm baths, acupuncture and homeopathy are other natural ways to induce labor that are not supported by scientific evidence.
Induction of Labor
Usually, labor starts between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. During this time, the pregnant woman can feel the contractions start in her uterus. Her cervix starts to soften up, and eventually her water breaks. This whole process occurs naturally. Induced labor requires external help in order to start uterine contractions and to cause your water to break. In addition to this, induced labor may involve mechanically opening your uterus.
Induced labor is said to be much more painful than natural labor as the pain in natural labor builds up slowly over time while induced labor contractions can be stronger and quicker, making it an overall more painful process.
Induced labor is often recommended at times when the mother’s or baby’s health is at risk. Following are some reasons why your healthcare provider might suggest induced labor:
- The placenta is not working properly.
- The mother has health problems like kidney issues, pre-eclampsia, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
- Natural contractions have not started but the water has broken.
- The mother is having twins or multiple babies.
- The mother is overdue for her due date.
- The amniotic sac does not have enough fluid.
Labor induction is appropriate under certain circumstances, and some pregnant women request the healthcare provider to induce labor for convenience, but you should remember that this process has a lot of risks.
Natural labor is the best option for most mothers and babies. Following is a list of different risks of inducing labor:
- Low fetal heart rate: the medication used for induction can cause abnormal contractions. This results in a low oxygen supply to the baby, along with a low fetal heart rate.
- Bleeding after delivery: labor induction may lead to your uterine muscles not contracting properly. This may lead to serious bleeding after delivery.
- Failed induction: if the delivery does not occur 24 or more hours after induction, then the induction is said to be failed and a C-section might be required.
Keeping all of this in mind, consult your doctor in order to get an appropriate recommendation that fits your situation.
Will a Warm Bath Help Soften My Cervix
Taking a warm bath has a lot of benefits. It not only helps your body to de-stress but also helps you to soften up your cervix. Taking a hot bath is the most natural way to help your cervix be ready for labor, but if you are having preterm labor, then you should avoid taking a bath. When you take a warm bath, your body releases oxytocin which helps to stimulate contractions.
Is a Hot Bath Safe?
Though a hot bath helps in inducing labor, it is important to remember that your body temperature should not exceed 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Mothers taking baths in very hot water are at an increased risk of having birth defects in their babies. Hot water can reduce blood flow to the baby’s head, causing distress.
How Can I Make Myself Dilate and go Into Labor?
There are plenty of different ways to induce labor naturally. You can try a variety of methods to safely cause cervical ripening and push your body towards labor . A medical professional has the following two options that can help in inducing labor:
- Medications: The healthcare provider may apply the hormone prostaglandin to the surface of your cervix, or they may insert a suppository into your vagina. This hormone performs the function of softening up your cervix.
- Stripping the membranes: The membranes connected to the amniotic sac are ruptured which triggers the uterus to secret prostaglandin. Keep in mind that having your membrane stripped can cause light bleeding.
You can induce labor naturally at home by using a variety of methods like exercising, eating spicy foods, having sex, etc.
7 Natural Ways to Induce labor
Following is a list of ways that may help you to induce labor at home naturally, and all of these methods are perfectly safe for the baby and mother:
Most doctors suggest that one should increase daily exercise in order to induce labor. Heavy exercises during pregnancy are not recommended, but anything that gets the heart rate up may help in the baby’s birthing process.
Doing moderate exercise during pregnancy for about 30 minutes, including during the early stages and third trimester, can be very helpful. It not only improves your sleep but also decreases your risk of cesarean delivery.
Sexual intercourse causes the glands to secrete oxytocin which increases contractions. In addition to this, pregnant women who have sex with men have higher chances of labor as semen contains prostaglandin hormones.
Your body pulses during orgasm, which is in fact your uterus contracting. Make sure to get your doctor’s approval before going forth with this method of induction.
Nipple stimulation stimulates the production of oxytocin and also causes your uterus to contract to bring about labor. Keep in mind that you should not stimulate nipples during contractions, and you should only stimulate one nipple at a time.
Some people also use a breast pump for stimulation, but no research shows that this method is safe for mothers.
It is believed that acupuncture stimulates the production of hormones in the body and can thus induce labor. The effectiveness of this method is not known; hence, there is no surety that this will work.
Applying pressure at certain pressure points can help de-stress your body, release oxytocin, and induce labor.
Drinking caster oil is said to cause cervical ripening, as it is believed that caster oil stimulates the secretion of prostaglandin hormone and helps with dilation. Along with caster oil, red raspberry leaf tea and evening primrose oil are other ways to stimulate induction.
Be aware that drinking caster oil can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Because of this, it is suggested that you should only drink caster oil under the supervision of your doctor.
Eating dates in the third trimester of pregnancy can lead to early labor, as it increases cervical ripening and cervical dilation, and also decreases the need for pitocin during labor. Eating spicy food can also help your baby to move through the birth canal with ease.
Herbs and Supplements
Many women swear by the statement that herbs play an important role in inducing labor, but these herbs can have many harmful side effects. To avoid those, you should always talk to the doctor or midwife before taking any herbs or supplements.
The touch of massage can help calm you due to the increase of the levels of the hormone known as oxytocin in your body. This hormone performs the function of starting uterine contractions during labor. Hence, massages may help in labor induction.
A professional prenatal massage may be the only thing you need for proper relaxation, as pregnancy can have a great effect on the mother’s mental health.
Warm Water Immersion and Water Birth
Throughout the world, women swear that water birth is the best way to go into labor. During water birth, the pregnant woman is placed in a tub of warm water. This procedure can be done in homes as well as hospitals. Many people swear by water births as they believe that it provides a gentle and natural experience.
Being gentle does not mean that water births are completely pain-free. The painful contractions are present, but the soothing and relaxing environment makes the experience much better. A water bath makes the unborn baby and its mother feel secure before going into active labor. Following is a list of its benefits:
- It is a more relaxing birth experience
- The labor time is of a shorter duration
- There is less need for pain medications
Water births are a beautiful experience, but before making any decisions, you should consult your doctor in order to choose the best choice for yourself. It may not be safe for you to go with a water bath if you consider the following options:
- Your pregnancy is under 37 weeks
- You are suffering from epilepsy
- You have an infection.
- You have high blood pressure
- You have diabetes managed with insulin
- You have vaginal bleeding
- You have a high fever
It is very important for you to go through all the pros and cons of this process with your doctor so that you are well-aware and ready to take things into your own hands.
Precautions While Birthing in Water
Though water births are a great experience, it is very important for you to take proper precautions to avoid any kind of complications. First, you should get a vaginal exam to be sure that you do not have any kind of infection, like a yeast infection, as the water can cause the infection to worsen. If you, for some reason, feel unsafe in the water, then it is better for you to not go with this technique.
Keep in mind that the water could drown the mother and even the new baby, so when choosing this way, one should be very careful. Make sure your bath water is not too hot. If you want to use a hot tub, you should first talk with a medical professional to get an idea about safety for you and your baby.
Though hot bath-induced labor is a great way of inducing since hot baths help your body to relax, hot tubs can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Before lying in the water to get your labor started, make sure that the water does not contain bath salts or bath bombs, as these can be very harmful to the baby.
Does Warm Water Help In Dilation?
There is no evidence that proves that hot baths can induce labor, but it is said that hot baths promote relaxation, which in turn increases oxytocin levels. This oxytocin then increases contractions, leading to labor. To date, there is no evidence that answers the question, “Does a hot bath induce labor?”
There are many different ways through which a pregnant woman can induce labor naturally. It can be done through exercise, eating, or using castor oil. Another natural way of starting labor is to induce labor by taking a hot bath. All of these help in cervix dilation, making the delivery process a little easier for both the mother and the baby.