How to Speed up Labor

Ways to Meet Baby Sooner When Delivery Day Is Near

Delivery day is nearing. You're ready to see that beautiful face in real life instead of on a blurry screen. It's time to get the show on the road, except Junior feels perfectly comfortable nestled inside your womb. Can you speed up labor? Many home methods to kick-start labor are more old wives' tale than scientifically reliable. But, if necessary, your OB/GYN can work some magic at the office or hospital.

Reasons to Speed Up Labor

Stressed young woman patient at the hospital

Can Walking on a Treadmill in Late Pregnancy Throw You Into Labor?

Learn More

Some moms want to speed up labor simply because they're tired of being pregnant and can't wait to hold their baby after nine long months of waiting. Others have doctors who have medical reasons for hurrying the delivery, determined on the potential for danger for mom or the baby if the pregnancy goes full-term.

Some reasons for speeding up labor include:

  • Pregnancy that lasts longer than two weeks past the due date
  • Growth issues with the baby
  • Lack of amniotic fluid
  • Infection in the uterus
  • Placental abruption
  • Rupture of the amniotic sac without any contractions
  • Potential danger caused by a medical condition

Natural Ways to Speed Up Labor

Most doctors agree that natural at-home methods of speeding up labor either don't work or have no scientific proof as effective. Some methods can be potentially dangerous, so talk to your doctor before trying something to rush labor.

Some common methods that moms try include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Walking
  • Eating spicy foods
  • Castor oil
  • Nipple stimulation
  • Sex

Many of the methods don't have the potential for danger, so it doesn't hurt to try them even is no evidence exists that they work. Sex and walking are two examples. If nothing else, you foster intimacy with your partner and get some exercise.

Women sometimes try using certain herbs such as black cohosh or evening primrose oil. Even though they are derived naturally, herbs aren't always well-researched and could cause side effects. Always talk to your doctor before trying any kind of herbal remedy.

Ways Your Doctor Can Speed Up Labor

Stressed young woman patient at the hospital

What Exercises During Pregnancy Start Labor?

Learn More

If your doctor decides it's safe to induce labor, she can use one of a few options. These methods encourage the body to start contractions, which speeds up labor.

Stripping the membranes is a process usually done in the doctor's office if your water hasn't broken. The doctor uses a finger to rub against the membranes attached to the amniotic sac. This encourages the release of prostaglandin, a hormone that softens the cervix and kick-starts contractions.

Some doctors use medications to pick up the pace. One option is prostaglandin in pill form or as a topical applied directly to the cervix. Another option once the cervix is open is synthetic oxytocin, a hormone that starts contractions, administered via an IV injection.

What You Need to Know About Speeding Up Labor

When you're near your delivery date, you may become anxious to meet your little one and not be pregnant any longer. However, it's usually best to let nature take its course, unless a medical reason exists to move things along faster. Inducing labor before your body is ready may increase your chances of having a cesarean or other interventions. Plus, your due date is your doctor's best estimate, but it's not guaranteed to be accurate. Your little one may need more time in the womb to get ready for his big debut. Even if you think a method for speeding up labor is safe, first check with your doctor before trying it to get a professional thumbs-up to ensure the safety of both you and your baby.