You are at the tail end of your final trimester, pretty much over being pregnant, and ready to give birth! Although waiting for the process of labor to start naturally is the best way to go, you may want to try to kick start it yourself for various reasons. Maybe your body feels as if it’s deteriorating more and more every day or maybe your fearful that your doctor will want to start the process themselves with an induction. There are typically two things that doctors look for to see how close you are to going into labor. They’ll want to see if your cervix is dilating or opening and they’ll want to see how effaced your cervix is or if it's thinning out. The more effaced you are and the more your cervix is dilated, the more your body is showing that it’s ready.
There are methods that exists that help you to both open your cervix and thin it out. Although none of these methods have been proven to be effective without a shadow of a doubt, there have been cases where they have shown to be more effective than doing nothing at all. For that reason, you should talk to your doctor or midwife before doing any of them. For certain methods, you’ll also want to make sure you wait until you’re at lease 39 weeks which is considered full term to try.
If you can check both of these boxes, whether that reason is because your doctor wants to schedule and induction or because you’re just anxious to meet your little one, these 5 methods are ways that moms have sworn by.
1. Dates – A study performed in 2007 and 2008 followed 114 women and found that the ones who consumed 4 to 6 dates a day starting from 36 weeks of pregnancy appeared to have easier labor. 69 of the women ate dates and 45 of them did not. The ones who ate the dates were more likely to go into labor naturally rather than need to be induced. It also discovered that these women were less likely to need drugs like Pitocin to get labor going along and had shorter stages of labor.
2. Get moving – The last thing you may want to do in your last month of pregnancy is move. Moving is not only good for your health but may help make labor come faster and easier. Movements like walking, climbing stairs or squats can help to dilate the cervix as the baby moves downward and puts pressure on the cervix. It can also help to get your baby into a great birthing position and speed up labor. Just make sure that your baby is in the proper position in the first place and not in a breech position before you attempt to move them further down.
3. Exercise Ball – You may know that an exercise ball can help once you’ve actually gone into labor, but did you know that it can also help to bring on labor. Gentle movements like bouncing or rolling on an exercise ball can help your baby move into an optimal position for labor and help to dilate your cervix. The same with moving just make sure that your baby is in a proper birthing position and research how to use the birthing ball before using it.
4. Sex – Sex is believed to speed up labor if a couple of different ways. Having an orgasm can help to release oxytocin which is a type of endorphin that may help start labor. Semen can also be helpful in softening or ripening your cervix. Sex is also something that safe to do during your entire pregnancy as long as you don't have any complications!
5. Nipple Stimulation – Nipple stimulation works similar to the way that sex works. It arouses your body, which causes it to release oxytocin. In a study conducted, women who performed nipple stimulation had shorter labor and delivery than women who did not. Pitocin, which is used by medical professionals to induce labor is even a type of oxytocin!
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