Lightening is the medical term used to describe the baby settling deeper into a woman's pelvis. The American Pregnancy Association points out that although this does indicate the body is preparing for labor, it might occur several weeks or only a few hours before actual labor begins. There are a number of things a woman can do to encourage the baby to drop deeper into the pelvis, but if her body isn't ready for labor, her efforts will be futile.
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Consult your health-care provider overseeing the pregnancy before making any attempts to encourage the baby to drop. Many methods that might cause lightening are basic natural labor induction techniques.
Increase daily walks. Walking at a comfortable pace several times a day can help put the baby's weight on the cervix and help it to dilate, or open. When the cervix dilates enough, contractions will begin to help push the baby downward. Many women experience Braxton-Hicks contractions during the later stages of pregnancy. These are not real labor contractions, but they can have a similar "warming up" effect by pushing baby down slightly.
Avoid sitting cross-legged at all times. Instead, spread the knees wide, and lean forward to allow the belly to hang down. The more the baby's weight is focused on the cervix, the more likely it is that dilation will occur.
Engage in sexual intercourse. Intercourse can encourage cervical dilation and progress labor in two ways. First, the male's sperm can act like prostaglandins, a hormone that can thin the cervix. Second, a female orgasm can trigger uterine contractions. Women who have been prescribed pelvic rest or have lost the mucus plug should not attempt this technique.
Insert one capsule of evening primrose oil before bed. This herb is recommended by many midwives to help ripen the cervix for labor, according to the What to Expect website. The oil can also be placed directly onto the cervix, or it can be ingested. This method should only be used under health-care provider supervision.
Avoid most home labor induction remedies until the baby has actually dropped or other signs indicate labor is just around the corner. Many remedies, such as castor oil and spicy foods, will only cause stomach upset if done too early in the pregnancy. No method of getting the baby to drop or encouraging labor will work if the body isn't truly ready.