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How can I speed things up naturally in early labour?

Well, congratulations my dear, this is super exciting! It's what you've been waiting for, for 9 months.

Very often, early labour can be challenging to identify, particularly if you have been experiencing Braxton-Hicks like tightenings for a few weeks. Any surge, tightening or contraction will all be helping your body to get ready to birth your baby, so think on it as a very positive and exciting event!

Also, sometimes your waters will break and the contractions will be super sporadic, and mama wants to get things moving before any medical interventions are required.

So if you think you are in this early stage of labour, here are some things to do:

  • Stay fairly close to home, and try to go about your day as normally as possible, understanding that the thinning of the cervix and the 1st few centimetres of dilation can be very tough work for some 1st-time mothers. Some women will fly through this stage of early labour, but for others, they'll feel every contraction working! If you're already in hospital because your waters have broken, no stress, you can do all of these things in hospital too :-)
  • Relax, as much as you can, but balance it with some exercise. Movement is the body's friend. Remember to keep the love hormone, Oxytocin, flowing - that is what is going to dilate you.
  • Practice your yoga poses, and in particular, some hip-opening poses like deep lunges and squats and poses on your hands & knees. These will all help to open up the pelvis and help baby to descend, but also will help baby get into a good position, which can sometimes be the reason why labour is slow to progress.
  • When seated, use a birthing/exercise ball (just make sure it is fully blown up), and do gentle hip circles. You can also gently bounce on your ball - just not to the point of exhaustion! Ensure that your hips are above your knees so that encourage baby into a good position. 
  • Keep distracted – if you can’t sleep, watch your favourite movies
  • Take warm bath/shower - if you have your Clary Sage oil, you can pop 5-10 drops into a warm bath.
  • Can you get intimate? Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for dilating your cervix. Whether you are on your own or with your birth partner, sexual activity, orgasm and nipple stimulation will really make that Oxytocin flow. If you're in the hospital, look for some privacy in a bathroom which you can lock and hopefully have access to a bath or shower. 
  • Other ways to keep your oxytocin high are to think about your baby! Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths - get into that relaxed space. Visualize meeting them, holding them, smelling their little precious head, and calling them by their name:-) 
  • Drink – about 120mls an hour, ideally drinks that replace sugar/electrolytes e.g. water, hydro-active drinks, coconut water, tea&honey, miso soup
  • Eat – every 2-3 hours in early labour, things which are tasty and easily digestible, for example, some fruit, toast, yoghurt, cereal, cookie
  • When resting, lie on your left side, but not flat. Always try to maintain downward pressure on the cervix, so keep yourself propped up with a stack of pillows or cushions.
  • Note – baby should be moving all the time during labour.
  • Visualize the cervix thinning & opening, and use any other techniques that you have been practising during your pregnancy.
  • Use any relaxation or hypnobirthing tracks that you have been doing throughout pregnancy.
  • Get up and walk around. Make friends with the stairs! Go up and down as many as you can find, without exhausting yourself (you'll need energy for the rest of your labour). Try a normal climb up and down; then go up two steps at a time; then go up and down sideways.  Alternate with rest, remembering to rest on your left-hand side ideally, with some downward pressure onto the cervix.
  • Let gravity work!

It's often at this stage when the woman can understandably get super frustrated. You just want it to happen already! But try to flip your mindset and understand your body is doing everything perfectly, is doing everything it should be right now. Breathe, enjoy it and try to remember that you will be meeting your little arrival very soon!

If you want to learn how to have a kick-ass pregnancy and birth, with my ongoing support, why not join up to our amazing Prenatal Program 'The Empowered Birth'. Check it out here to see what it's all about :-)


Helen Plass is a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist, and Yoga Instructor, working with women to achieve a comfortable, healthy & happy journey into Pregnancy, birth, and Motherhood. She is known for her very practical & non-judgmental approach to pregnancy and the crazy times of motherhood. Check out all her communication at NurtureMamas.com.


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