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Can a bath induce labour?

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If you’re approaching your due date or you’ve gone past it, you’re probably wondering if there are any safe and effective methods of moving things along. It’s likely that you have done your research and discovered some normal, and some not so normal tips and tricks that other parents have recommended. One of the most popular queries often searched by expectant mothers is: “can a bath induce labour”?

In short, no. A bath itself cannot induce labour (by which I mean to take you from not being in labour to progressing into and being in active labour). Although a bath alone will not induce labour, that is, after all, the job of your hormones, there are plenty of other benefits to taking baths during pregnancy.

Mummy to Dex, baby led weaning mummy blogger aka Nicola stood in front of her home wearing a black vest top and skirt, six months pregnant

What are the benefits of having a bath during pregnancy?

If baths have long been your go-to source of comfort during stressful times, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s no need to restrict yourself during pregnancy. In fact, although you may be upset to learn that the answer to ‘can a bath induce labour?’ is a no, there are in reality many benefits to taking a bath during pregnancy.

  • Warm baths help  to relax your mind and body
  • Baths may help your baby move into a better position, ready for birth
  • Taking a bath during pregnancy can help to soothe the pain of external hemorrhoids
  • Warm baths act as an effective pain relief for cramping and muscle pain
  • Baths can help to reduce stress-related health conditions during pregnancy

Let’s take a look at each of these benefits in turn:

Warm baths help to relax your mind and body

Instead of asking yourself can a bath induce labour, try redirecting your anxiety about labour into self care, by allowing yourself the time to relax your mind and body. Pregnancy can cause so much stress, both mentally and physically, and often women shoulder the burden without granting themselves permission to let it all go. Your state of mind is just as important during pregnancy as your physical state, and you should therefore take the time to relax and pamper yourself. Consider that when your little bundle of joy does finally arrive, it’s very likely that your free time will become sparse, leaving you very little time for self care. 

Baths may help your baby to move into a better position, ready for birth

 “Can a bath induce labour?” is a popular question among expectant mums and dads, and although we’ve discussed that a bath alone is not enough to get things started, that does not mean there aren’t additional benefits to having a soak. A warm bath is unlikely to induce labour, but it can help to relax the muscles in your body, allowing your baby to move into a better birthing position, ready for when the time comes. 

a selfie of a woman taking a picture of her baby bump

Taking a bath during pregnancy can help to soothe external hemorrhoids

Constipation, coupled with the growing weight of your uterus during pregnancy, can increase the chances of developing external hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids, or piles, are a result of the veins in the lowest part of your rectum becoming stretched and swollen resulting in sharp pain, blood when you wipe, and an uncomfortable itchy feeling.

 These sensations can become increasingly uncomfortable as pregnancy continues due to additional weight gain and the difficulty this weight gain presents when attempting to apply topical creams to the area. Soaking in a warm bath, especially one with Epsom salts, can help to soothe the pain and even shrink the size of the veins. Soaking in a warm bath for around 20 – 30 minutes can not only help to soothe the pain associated with hemorrhoids, but it can also help to lessen the uncomfortable itchy feeling that can make sitting and walking extremely uncomfortable.

Warm baths can act as an effective pain relief for cramps and sore muscles

During pregnancy, your body changes a lot in order to accommodate your growing child. Abdominal muscles stretch and ligaments often become sore, resulting in discomfort. For many women, these physical changes cause more discomfort as their baby grows, which can affect the overall mood and stress levels of an expectant mother.  An effective way of treating these uncomfortable, yet extremely common pregnancy aches and pains, is to soak in some warm water. 

The warm water helps to relieve pressure from achy joints as well as stimulating blood and oxygen flow to sore muscles. Warm baths can even act as extremely effective pain relief for cramps, which is why water births are a popular choice among expecting parents. 

Sat in bed putting Palmers stretch mark cream on my baby belly

Taking a bath can help to prevent some health conditions that occur during pregnancy.

We all know that stress can affect our bodies physically as well as mentally. During pregnancy, this is especially true. High stress levels over a prolonged period of time can cause health problems for both mother and baby, including conditions such as high blood pressure, or going into labour prematurely. There are many factors during pregnancy that can lead a person to feel highly stressed, but one of the easiest ways to alleviate some of the pressure and discomfort that may be adding to your stress levels is to take a nice, warm bath. Warm water baths relax aching muscles, help alleviate nausea, and can even help to reduce anxiety.

Are there any reasons to avoid baths during pregnancy?

It’s typically deemed safe to enjoy relaxing baths during your pregnancy, however extra care should be taken. As with many things during pregnancy, there are some additional precautions that should be taken in order to ensure both mother and baby’s safety. 

  • Always check the temperature of your bath. During pregnancy, you should not be taking hot baths as this can raise your internal body temperature and cause discomfort to your baby.
  • Be sure that you are able to safely enter and exit the bath. Pregnant women often experience a struggle when getting into or getting out of a bath, so be sure that you are able to do this safely, or enlist the help of your partner. 
  • Never take a bath after your waters have broken. Although warm water is a great form of pain relief for cramps, taking a bath after your waters have broken can lead to infection. 

Are there any methods of getting labour started?

Can a bath induce labour? Does spicy food get things moving? Will taking a drive down a bumpy road start labour? There are many myths surrounding pregnancy and inducing labour, and although some of them may contribute in some way or another, the actual process of labour comes down to your body’s hormones.

We cannot force labour to start, however, there is plenty of evidence that shows us that oxytocin, otherwise known as the cuddle hormone, plays a prominent role in labour because it triggers contractions. Oxytocin is released when you cuddle and bond with someone you love and it’s also evident when you have sex. Therefore, instead of eating spicy curries and driving over speed bumps, try snuggling up with your partner in the evenings and sharing some intimacy.

nicola pregnant standing in burscough wharf

Can a Bath Induce Labour?

Despite the fact that the answer to “can a bath induce labour?” is a resounding ‘no’, there are plenty of benefits to soaking in the tub during pregnancy. As long as you are mindful of the temperature and take your time entering and exiting the bathtub, you can still enjoy many of the benefits, including pain relief and relaxation. 

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