Your physician may decide to help bring your bundle of joy into the world through a number of methods. During routine prenatal checkups, he may "strip your membranes" to encourage contractions. Or, breaking your water, called an amniotomy, is also a common way to speed up labor and get you to the finish line.
Medication may also be used to speed up contractions and ripen your cervix. Pitocin is often administered through an IV to stimulate contractions, while suppositories such as prostaglandin inserts that contain relaxin to help your cervix make way for your baby's delivery.
Natural ways to speed up labor often include shifting positions. "I generally encourage my clients to have a mindfulness about how being in one position for long periods of time can be a disservice to the baby who may need a change in order to move him/herself into a more optimal position for birthing," shares Lisa Pedersen, LCSW, Mindful Beginnings.
Whether Mother Nature or your physician helped start labor, once you're headed towards the finish line, let gravity do most of the work. As long as you haven't been administered an epidural, try standing next to your bed and swaying back and forth through contractions or taking a stroll down the hall. The change of scenery will do you some good, too!
The release of oxytocin through breast stimulation is a common, natural way to speed up labor. Use a breast pump, massage your nipples or get into the shower and let the water do the work to release oxytocin into your body, which can cause contractions. You should feel a contraction within 20 minutes if this method is working for you.
As long as your water hasn't broken and you're in the first stage of labor, the practice of sex during labor is gaining momentum. A hormone called relaxin is found seminal fluid, softening the cervix and lengthening the pelvic ligaments to get your labor moving. It is also known to help start labor as well.
Be sure to check with your physician, OB-GYN or doula before you initiate any of these ways to speed up labor. He or she will be your best source on how to speed up labor for your particular situation. Although you are anxious to hold your newborn in your arms at the start of labor, your baby may just need a little more time before making her grand entrance into the world!
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