Labor can be medically induced in some cases, but a person can often encourage dilation by keeping the body loose and relaxed. This can help ease the delivery.
Dilation is the widening of the cervical opening. Dilation of the cervix is one sign that a pregnant woman is about to go into labor.
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Doctors perform cervical exams during the final stages of pregnancy to track the progress of the pregnancy and the degree of dilation of the cervix.
In the first stage of labor, the cervix will dilate to 10 centimeters (cm) in width. A few different factors can influence how quickly dilation occurs.
How to dilate faster at home
The following natural methods can help:
Use an exercise ball
A large inflatable exercise ball, called a birthing ball, may also help encourage fast dilation. Sitting on the ball and rocking back and forth or moving in circles can help keep the muscles in the pelvis loose, relaxed, and prepared for delivery.
A pregnant woman may become tense during the last stages of pregnancy, however, learning to relax can help a lot. Stress and muscle tension and can delay labor by making it harder for the cervix to dilate. This can prevent the baby from descending. Many women benefit from practicing breathing exercises or meditation before and during labor.
Getting up and moving around may help speed up dilation by increasing blood flow. Walking around the room, changing positions in chair or bed, and doing simple movements in bed or chair, may encourage dilation. This is because the weight of the baby applies pressure to the cervix.
Watching funny movies or stand-up comedy may help promote laughing which can keep spirits up before and during labor. Laughing can keep stress and anxiety at bay.
Sexual stimulation can relax the body. A hormone called prostaglandin in semen can equally promote dilation.
Tips for quicker dilation during labor
Labor may be a natural process, but there are times when a doctor needs to intervene. Medical intervention may be necessary if:
- a woman has an infection in the uterus
- the baby is more than 2 weeks late, and active labor has not started.
- the water has broken, but there are no contractions
- underlying medical conditions will complicate delivery for the mother or baby
A doctor may apply a medication that contains prostaglandin to soften the cervix and encourage dilation.
A process called membrane stripping, which involves a doctor or midwife rubbing their fingers against the membranes of the amniotic sac to release prostaglandin into the uterus and assist the cervix dilate, may help.
Women interested in natural birth may avoid medical intervention until it is needed.