How to Speed Up Labor

Speed up LaborPregnancy is a beautiful time. It’s when a woman’s body takes the raw genetic materials and grows a child.

For roughly 40 weeks, the body goes through a plethora of changes both for the woman and the child (or children) until finally, the child is ready to come into the world.

No matter the method of labor, either naturally started or induced, it can be a lengthy process. Really. Some women are in labor for an hour or two, while others can be in labor for a day or two.

When the process takes that long, a lot of people want to speed it up. While the body naturally can work wonders, it can sometimes be slow.

With that being said, there are some natural ways to help speed up the process, whether you are laboring at home or at a hospital or birthing center.

These are things you can try before you get an epidural if you have one or intend on getting one, and as long as it is safe for you to move around (not on bed rest, constant monitoring of the child, high-risk situations, etc.

Hopefully, if you are nearing the end of your pregnancy you can use some of these tips to help speed things along and welcome your newest addition to the world a bit sooner.

Good luck and congratulations on your bundle of joy. Now read on to help make the process a short run and not a marathon.

Some Reasons Why Labor Might Be Slower

First a little background. Did you know that first labors generally take longer to progress than other subsequent ones? It’s like the body is learning how to actually do this, how to birth a child.

According to BabyCenter [1], there are a few reasons for a slower than normal labor which could be related to issues other than complication.

  • Maybe you are really tired and thirsty. This is a high possibility if you are in a hospital setting and they don’t allow you to have anything other than ice chips. Your body might be telling you to rest (as hard as it may be), you might have to in order to get things going.
  • Your baby might be in the wrong position for birth. This could potentially mean that there are other interventions that are necessary, but it could be slowing down progress.
  • Your stress levels are interfering with the release of those all-important labor hormones. If this is the case, try to find something relaxing for you to focus on, but we’ll go into that later.
  • Your contractions aren’t very strong or are not increasing in intensity. If that is the case, again there might be some other interventions that are needed but those are a case-by-case basis and something to discuss with your midwife/doctor/doula.

These are basic reasons why labor might be going a bit slower than it “should” be. Now should is an operative term because no two labors are the same.

Ways to Speed up Labor with Doctor Intervention

Let’s also get the doctor interventions out of the way. These are the last resort options that you might want to consider if all the other natural methods don’t help.

One process is stripping the membranes, which encourages the release of prostaglandin that softens the cervix to get contractions started.[2]

If labor does not progress even with this medical intervention, then the start of Pitocin might be in order, which will only be done by your doctor at a hospital.[3]

But you want to know how to naturally speed up labor first before we get to the medical aspects of it so let’s get to that portion of this article.

Get Up and Get Moving

This is by far one of the easiest ways to help speed up labor. When you are starting to get into early labor sometimes you want to just sit and relax. Even after you have been laboring for a while, you still want to keep moving.

Sarah Prince[4] stated that giving birth is like trying to take off a ring on a finger that is too small, you have to move it around, twist it, and help it off. Same with a baby, you have to move around to help make space.

You don’t have to limit the movement to walking. This can also include dancing (check out some amazing YouTube videos of pregnant woman dancing), yoga (which can also help with relaxation), rocking on an exercise ball, oh, and walking.

In reality, the movement is helping your bodies natural progression using gravity to help the baby settle into their space for their final decent so to speak.[5] it’s just all about getting going and helping things along.

Acupressure

Do you remember hearing that you shouldn’t get a pedicure while pregnant because their massage could put you into labor? Well, it is true.

There are certain points on your feet and ankles that are pressure points to help stimulate labor. One point is the inside of the ankle.[6]

Have someone rub that area for you while you’re in labor (which can aid in the relaxation idea one as well which will be discussed later).

Another spot is the area between the thumb and the forefinger. Massaging this area for a few minutes at a time can help to increase contraction as well[7] (plus, who doesn’t like a good hand massage).

Relax

I know we told you to walk around, however, there are also benefits to increasing how relaxed you are.

While it’s understood that this tends to be a stressful time, the more relaxed you are, the better your body can produce those all-important labor hormones.

Whatever relaxes you it what you should use. Sarah Prince[8] likes to use spa music which can be calming and soothing and using visual imagery with meditation.

These two things can help you slow your breathing and focus on something other than the contractions.

Another thing that is recommended is turning off or dimming the lights. This helps the body to respond better to the labor hormones.[9] If you still want some light in the room, get some candles and put them around.

Breast/Nipple Stimulation

While this may seem counterproductive, your breasts and nipples are tender and more sensitive due to being pregnant, this one can help by increasing the flow of oxytocin which can help induce contractions.[10]

But this is something that should be done only when you are already in labor and a technique that should not be done in high-risk pregnancies.

In order to utilize this technique, it should be done between contractions where you massage one nipple for about 5 minutes and then wait.

If nothing happens move on to the other one. Once labor starts again you can discontinue this stimulation.[11]

Move to a Different Location either Mentally or Physically

This might sound like an odd one, but it also comes with the feeling of relaxation. If you are inside (and at home or a birthing center, even the hospital if they allow it), try and move around and find a better location.

This could be getting some fresh air outside, walking the hallways, finding someplace quieter or asking people to leave for a bit.[12]

Sometimes the stimulation from having a lot of people in the room or a lot of noise can affect the way your body is handling labor and adding to your stress.

Getting them out of the room or walking out yourself might be helpful to aid things along.

Sometimes you need privacy or a change in scenery to help you lower your adrenaline levels and increase the oxytocin, which is required for progression.

Mentally this can even go for the nurses/midwives that you have around you. If they are making you feel uncomfortable or rushed, it could be that their presence that is making you uncomfortable.

Request someone else, because this birth is about you and how you feel, and they should never try to pressure you into rushing unless there are complications.

Every Birth is Different

While some of these tips and tricks might work for one birth, another might now be the same. Just as some must have a C-Section and then can do a VBAC.

It’s all based on that pregnancy and that situation. If none of these work for you and you must have an intervention, don’t fret.

Just because the labor process didn’t go as planned, if you have a beautiful child at the end the nit doesn’t matter. Good luck with the birthing process.

References

  1. Babycentre. Speeding Up Labour – [link]
  2. Shelley Frost via Working Mother. How to Speed up Labor. – https://www.workingmother.com/momlife/13590261/how-to-speed-up-labor/
  3. See Above #2
  4. Sarah Prince via My Natural Baby Birth. 9 Ways to Speed Up Labor and Get to Pushing. –[link]
  5. Robin Elise Weiss, PhD and Anita Sadaty, MD via Very Well Family. 6 Ways to Speed Up a Slow Labor. – [link]
  6. See Above #4
  7. See Above #4
  8. See Above #4
  9. Lauralyn Curtis via The Curtis Method of Childbirth Education. How to Speed up Early Labor. – [link]/
  10. See Above #9
  11. Kelly Winder via Belly Belly. 8 Natural & Effective Tips for a Slow or Stalled Labour. – [link]/
  12. See Above #11
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