How to Speed up Dilation

There Are Several Safe and Effective Ways to Help Speed up Dilation

One of the most endearingly, and sometimes frustratingly, human things about newborn babies is that they all make their way into your arms in their own way and especially in their own time. Your cervix, which is a narrow, 2-inch-long tube at the bottom of your uterus, needs to be fully dilated to 10 centimeters in order for your baby to be born with a minimum of wasted effort and vaginal tearing. The time it takes from first labor to full dilation can be as little as a few hours or as long as a few days. Fortunately, whether this is your first baby or your fifth, there are things you can do to encourage dilation.

Water

Unrecognizable mother with newborn baby son lying in bed

Exercises With an Exercise Ball to Help Induce Labor

Learn More

While staying perfectly calm during labor may be easier said than done, relaxing your body can help move things along. A warm bath or shower can be soothing, and the gentle heat can help your muscles loosen up. Avoid very hot water that can raise your internal temperature or dehydrate you by making you sweat. Make sure that you have help in and out of the tub or shower enclosure and that you have a slip-proof, absorbent place to step onto when you emerge. Dry yourself—or have your partner or birthing coach help dry you—with a soft, clean towel before putting on loose, comfortable clothing.

Music

Listening to soothing music can help relax you emotionally, and that will help relax you physically. Choose a genre of music that you enjoy, and select several pieces which are low-energy and familiar. Keep the volume low and sit or lie down in a comfortable position, if you can find one. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply. Imagine your cervix opening as you listen to the music.

Movement

Unrecognizable mother with newborn baby son lying in bed

Exercises During the First Trimester

Learn More

Many women don't like to sit or lie still in the early stages of labor. If it is all right with your doctor, midwife or other birthing professional, take a leisurely walk around while your labor is in the early stages. Don't try to set land-speed records. Most births are closer to a marathon than a sprint, and you'll want to conserve as much energy as you can for when it's time to push. Stop and breathe deeply whenever you feel a contraction, leaning on your partner or birthing coach as you rest between walks.

Touch

Gentle massage helps loosen muscles, and touch releases hormones, such as oxytocin, that promote bonding. Have your partner, birthing coach, a family member or close friend rub your feet and legs, your shoulders and arms and your lower back very gently. This is not the time to work out any stubborn kinks or knots; the purpose is to soothe you in one of the most primal ways possible. If you don't want to be massaged, cuddle with someone you love, such as your partner or any older children who can be counted on to keep still for a short while.

Tips

Aromatherapy is another way to soothe your senses. The smell of a gentle oil or lightly-scented candle can help relax you.

Warnings

Call your doctor or birthing practitioner immediately if your mucous plug falls out, your water breaks or you experience any vaginal bleeding.

×