One of the most natural ways to soften your cervix in readiness for labor is to have a warm bath. A bath alone will not start contractions, but a warm bath stimulates the production of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, which is the hormone that promotes contractions and makes them stronger once they begin. Taking a warm bath helps your body relax and sometimes is all your body needs to go into labor. But before you jump into that bathtub, It’s important to note that The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advises that your bathwater temperature shouldn’t be higher than 98 degrees Fahrenheit, while your body temperature should never be above 101 degrees Fahrenheit after spending 10 minutes in the water. Water that’s too hot can reduce blood flow to your baby and cause distress.
If you’re nearing your due date or are overdue, you’re probably wondering if there are any safe and effective methods for moving things along since only 5% of babies are born on their due date.
One method of getting started in inducing labor naturally that frequently shows up is taking a warm bath.
Benefits of a warm bath during pregnancy
Taking a bath can be very helpful when it comes to starting labor, here are some reasons why:
- Water immersion can help you have a shorter labor. Allowing your body to relax in the beginning can have a long-term positive effect on your upcoming labor and delivery. When you calm down, muscles may loosen up, and the baby may find its position and drop further into the birth canal.
- Water immersion can also reduce your need for an epidural. If you plan to have a natural or water birth and want to avoid an epidural, using a warm bath to induce labor may help you avoid having a medicated birth.
- Other benefits of a warm bath are that it can help ripen your cervix and encourage the release of the oxytocin hormone. As your body prepares to give birth, your cervix will soften and open up for your baby to pass through the birth canal. The released oxytocin will play a role here.
- A warm water bath can be very effective for comfort and pain relief. Water provides support and buoyancy that enables laboring women to relax and take advantage of the weightless feeling it provides.
- Warm water immersion in labor can diminish the stress hormone catecholamines and reduce pain by increasing the production of endorphins, the body’s pain relievers. It can ease vascular tension and help you relax in between contractions.
Reasons to avoid baths during the early onset of labor
Even though there are some great benefits of taking a warm bath to soften your cervix to induce labor, there are other important things to consider.
- If you’ve had an epidural or any sedation medication, you should 100% avoid taking a bath while laboring. Taking a bath can be incredibly dangerous if you’re not in charge of your body.
- Fetal heart monitors are used underwater, but they won’t stay on well. After a while, they become far more of a hassle and disturbance to your labor trying to keep them on than it was worth. So, if you can’t have a fetal heart monitor on properly, avoid taking a bath.
- If you have preterm labor, you should avoid taking a bath as you may not know it, but your water may have already broken and could be dangerous for your baby. Unless cleared by a health professional to take a bath, don’t do it.
- You should also avoid taking a bath if you have a blood-transmitted infection. If it’s something minor that shouldn’t be an issue, consult your healthcare provider.
- Taking a warm bath is like using a warm blanket. If your body temperature increases to an unhealthy extreme, you increase your risk of complications and developmental abnormalities in the baby. If you overheat, take a cool shower to lower your core temperature.
What kind of foods will induce labor?
About foods to induce labor, dates are your best bet. Studies suggest that dates reduce the need for induction and shorten labor.
Pineapples and spicy foods may also help induce labor though there isn’t much evidence to support these theories.
What if I go past my due date?
The date you give birth depends on factors including your baby, the average length of pregnancies in your family, and whether your due date was calculated correctly.
Your baby and body are the ones to initiate labor, and they usually know when they’re ready. If mother and child are healthy, it’s perfectly reasonable and evidence-based to give birth at 42 weeks.
How long will it take to give birth after an induction?
Just like most aspects of childbirth, there’s no hard and fast rule. Every woman is different.
For some, inducing labor can take just a few hours, and for others, a few days, and sometimes induction doesn’t work. In such a scenario, a c-section may be necessary.
Your pregnancy journey will cause you to experience all kinds of aches and pains you never thought were possible. In the end, they’ll be worth it, but you deserve relief.
You can safely take a warm bath if your doctor hasn’t advised you otherwise. Baths can enhance your mood, relieve stress, and soothe your muscles and body. All this can promote cervical ripening.
The most important note to remember is you must be cautious of your water temperature. A hot bath can have harmful effects on your baby. So, enjoy a warm bath but don’t overindulge.