I don’t know about you, but I love taking a nice hot bath to relax. Actually, it’s more of a warm to hot temperature. What I find soothing and comfortable, my daughters scream that I’m trying to boil them alive if I fill their tub with water of the same temperature. Preferences!
Anyway, I have a whole post devoted to natural ways to induce labor. On that list, I’ve included a warm bath to induce labor, but is it for real? Can it help you kick labor in during the last weeks?
While I advise you to wait it out if you are earlier than 37 weeks along or even in the 28th or 39th weeks, you may find comfort in a warm bath.
Does it work for inducing labor, though?
I can’t find a shred of documented evidence where taking a warm bath to induce labor is effective at all. Ditto for taking a hot shower to induce labor. This lack of evidence should tell you everything you need to know.
But there’s something else. 🙄
Often, doctors will tell you that taking a bath is a lovely idea while you’re pregnant. If it would induce labor at any point, they’d tell you to avoid it altogether. Wouldn’t you agree?
So, a warm bath is just excellent for relaxing, but don’t expect it to make you go into labor. There is something you should definitely avoid, though…
NO hot tubs!
Your doctor likely told you in the first trimester not to get into a hot tub. There are many reasons to avoid it, though you can safely stick just your feet in there and let them be soothed.
One reason for skipping the hot tub is that it can breed lots of germs. That alone is reason enough! However, there’s more to it, namely the temperature of the water. So even if you have your private hot tub, sitting in water that’s too hot is a bad idea. It’s dangerous for your baby.
That’s why a safer way to soak is in a bathtub filled with warm water though there are some stipulations.
Can you take a bath when dilated?
The American Pregnancy Association cautions you not to take a bath at all if you are dilated. You won’t know this until your checkups that come weekly at the end of your pregnancy. So if your last checkup reveals you’re starting to dilate, do not take a bath!
Instead, you can take a warm shower. Which won’t induce labor, but it will feel so good!
Does an Epsom salt bath help induce labor?
Let’s say you’re not dilated, but you want to use Epsom salts. Will that help with labor induction? Nope! But it is safe to do as long as you mind the temperature. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the water to keep your core temperature from rising above 102.2°F.
All in all, taking a warm (not hot!) bath is soothing and will release stress. It will also release oxytocin, but there’s no guarantee that release will kick you into the land of contractions. Think about how many times oxytocin is released during your pregnancy through other activities. It’s not the sole factor in telling your body it’s time to get that baby outta there.
Don’t believe the hype. 😐
Some of you have asked me about castor oil and a hot bath to induce labor. I mentioned it in my other post, but it’s worth repeating. Castor oil tastes disgusting and has conflicting studies about its effectiveness. Before you even think about taking a spoonful (assuming the vile smell doesn’t put you off entirely first), please consult your doctor.
A warm bath won’t induce labor, but it will induce good and happy feelings in you. It will help your muscles relax and make your mind calmer too, and for that, it’s a great thing to try while pregnant.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs. She loves eating too much sushi, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.