While living abroad, I was very amused by my friend Kayleigh and the videos she posted to Facebook (which are since gone) about curb walking for labor. She was hilarious with her big bump protruding from her otherwise small frame as she walked along the curb.
Narrating her endeavors with her husband shooting the video and encouraging her in the background, she was beyond frustrated that this baby hadn’t come out yet in the 40th week.
“Get out! Come on, baby!” she was yelling. “I’m going to evict you from my uterus!”
So, did it work?
A few days later, Kayleigh gave birth to a healthy baby boy. It seems to have done the trick.
Are you curious if curb walking for labor can help you too? Read on and find out!
What is curb walking?
Curb walking is about as descriptive a term as there is, and it’s just what the name implies. You walk on a curb, only with one foot on the curb and one foot on the normal ground.
Why would you curb walk?
Curb walking intends to move your baby farther down in your pelvis. Once that happens, the baby applies greater pressure on your cervix. That increase in pressure releases oxytocin, which can help trigger contractions or keep contractions progressing when labor has already begun.
How does curb walking induce labor?
Curb walking can naturally induce labor, though if you’re not ready to go into labor, it will not help. Also, if you are preterm or at risk of entering labor early, avoiding anything that could induce labor is best.
And even if you are full-term, it really is a good idea to ask your doctor about curb walking first. Depending on your own specific situation, they may give you the go-ahead to go for it or tell you to take it easy.
When you’ve already begun dilating and effacing, your body may need a little push to get things rolling. For those with contractions that have already started, doing some curb walking can be helpful.
However, be forewarned that labor is exhausting! I can tell you this because I was in labor with my eldest for close to 24 hours before I had to go in for an emergency c-section. Labor is like the worst Bootcamp class you have ever endured, times 1,000. It would help if you prepared for it like a marathon, not a sprint, to keep your energy up.
What about regular walking?
I’m so glad you asked! Walking the regular way is a great idea in the weeks leading up to your due date, as long as your doctor doesn’t have you on bed rest or anything. Walking is a great exercise that prepares your muscles and your whole body for birth.
It can also naturally coax your baby to move deeper into the pelvis and prep you for the main event. So, if you know you’re not too close to things and want to prime yourself, just walking can help.
How to do curb walking while pregnant?
Ok, so let’s assume you’ve checked with your doctor, and they have encouraged curb walking. How do you do it?
It’s really quite simple…
- Put on good shoes. Like sneakers or whatever fits at this point, something that will cushion your feet.
- Put one foot up on the curb. The other stays on flat ground.
Because you’re creating an uneven gait, you are opening up your pelvis more and giving the baby the room they need to descend. As that happens, more pressure will apply to the cervix and should lead to dilation and effacement.
You can start on a normal walk and then, in the end, do 10 minutes in the curb walking style. It’s also a good idea to go in both directions to alternate legs, but if one feels more comfortable, you can just stay on that side.
What if there aren’t any curbs near me?
Not every neighborhood is blessed with a bounty of curbs. So, do you have to miss out on curb walking for labor if there are no curbs? Or drive to a curbed place? NO!
There are others ways to recreate this movement. You can try any of the following:
Take the stairs
If you have stairs in your home or outside, even a small staircase, you can simply go up and down them. This action also opens up your pelvis with that uneven walk.
Grab a high heel shoe
Assuming your feet didn’t swell up to ham hocks as mine did during my pregnancies, you can take one high heel shoe from a pair and put it on. On the other foot, wear a flat style. This will create uneven heights like the curb, though it is a far less stable method than the stairs. I recommend holding onto a railing or something as you do this to be safe and prevent a fall.
Use a step stool
A step stool or even those steppers you get for aerobics, if you have one, will work in a pinch too. Just step up and then down again and again like you were taking the stairs.
When should you start curb walking during pregnancy?
Sidewalk walking to induce labor is a great idea when you are at the end of your pregnancy. The benefits of curb walking can ease the pain as you get to those final days of pregnancy.
Don’t forget that this natural strategy to kick off labor is no guarantee that it will work for you. It’s best to wait until you’re at your due date or at 39 weeks and talk to your doctor first to ensure it’s safe for you.
You need to be near the time your body is ready for labor first. And if your doctor has told you to stay on bed rest or restrict your activities, it is not advised to start to curb walking.
That said, I’d love to share some stories with you about some lovely mamas I know who tried curb walking during pregnancy.
“My first pregnancy was so uncomfortable at the end that I seriously couldn’t get any peace. I felt like there was no end in sight to this misery and I kept cursing at my husband for getting me pregnant.
“During my 39-week checkup, the doctor told me that I wasn’t dilated or anything yet, but that Glenda had dropped down in my pelvis. I asked her what I could possibly do to stop this aggravating pain down there. That’s when she told me about curb walking.
“I decided I’d try it later when my husband was home from work. She had told me not to be alone in case I lost balance or something. So, I was hobbling up and back along the stretch of sidewalk in front of our home and neighbors’.
“I remember saying, ‘This is so dumb. I look stupid. Nothing is happening.’ And then literally as if to prove me immediately wrong, I felt some liquid seeping out. I thought I just peed my pants so I went inside to change. I noticed the liquid was clear, though, not like pee.
“It wasn’t gushing or anything, it was just the littlest bit. I decided I’d had enough excitement and tried to get in a nap. And as I was drifting off to sleep, I was woken up by a horrible pain that I’d later learn was a contraction. I tried to fall back asleep, but another came. And another. That’s when I realized I was going into labor.
“An hour after that, I arrived at the hospital and I was now 4cm dilated. Curb walking definitely got the ball rolling on my labor!”
“While I did try curb walking, it didn’t work out in my favor. I was at 40 weeks and Dylan was a stubborn baby who apparently was not ready to be born. Every day, I would curb walk for about 20 minutes. It didn’t make any difference to me. At 42 weeks, I was induced.”
“My curb walking experience was amazing. It was my sister who told me I should do it. My husband Jeff was deployed, and my sister came to stay with me to help me out.
“When my due date came and went, I was really disappointed. I mean, like where was this baby that was kicking me? Why was he still hiding out in my uterus? I ordered the spiciest ramen from the Korean place up the street, and nothing. This kid will likely live with me until I’m 40, isn’t he?
“I went for a pregnancy massage too, and still this baby just wouldn’t budge. So Casey, my sister, tells me about curb walking. We were out at the mall looking at more baby stuff, and there were these long rows of steps. And she’s demonstrating how I should do this and saying it will open up my pelvis and stuff.
“Because I was so tired of being pregnant and just wanted to get the birthing over with, I started to give it a try. But then she started laughing at me and I thought she was just playing a joke like she always does to get me to lighten up. So I started yelling at her about it.
“As this is happening, this woman comes up to me with her 3 kids and says, ‘Keep it up. That’s how I got all 3 of these kids to come out.’ And then she walked away.
“I thought sure, it works for everyone but me. Casey and I went to get something to eat and as we sat there waiting for our meals, I started to feel funny. Like I had this pressure deep in my pelvis and it hurt. And then it felt like I had my period, like the WORST period ever with cramps kind of thing.
“Casey starts shouting that I’m going into labor and suddenly, the restaurant manager is comping our meal, and the next thing I know, I can’t even walk myself to the car. It was nuts! We got to the hospital, the doctor checked my cervix, which was so embarrassing because she did this with a bunch of med students staring at my bits, and she started shouting to take me to the delivery room.
“It was just wild. After about 8 hours of labor, I finally had my son and I thank curb walking for that.”
“When I went to the doctor for my 38th-week checkup, she told me my baby girl was dropped down. All I had to do was wait. But I hate waiting for things. I really do. So, I asked her how I could get labor over with.
“She laughed and said that some moms found spicy foods or prenatal massages effective. But she said if I was really ready to get the show on the road if my body was ready for labor, then curb walking would do it.
“It was the dead of winter though and there was snow and ice everywhere outside. I was worried I’d slip and fall out there so I kept going up and down our stairs. Nothing.
“Then I remembered reading about curb walking where this woman wore one of her stilettos on one foot and a ballet flat on the other. I tried something similar, well, I wanted to, but my feet were so swollen and fat I couldn’t get them into my heels. I was about to give up entirely.
“My husband called up to me from downstairs and asked me to bring him something from the bedroom the next time I headed downstairs. ‘No rush,’ I remember him saying. But I had nothing else to do and I wasn’t laying down so I thought I’d just bring it. I went down the stairs and brought it to him.
“About an hour later, I began to experience these painful sensations. My pelvis really hurt, and these cramp-like things radiated from my back to my front. This kept happening more and more, but I didn’t think anything of it. My husband, who is the oldest in his family, vividly remembers when his mom went into labor with his youngest sister and he said, ‘Honey, grab your coat. I’ve got your bag. You’re in labor!’
“I didn’t believe it but when we got to the hospital, they confirmed I was indeed in labor. Maybe all those jaunts up and down the stairs were similar enough to curb walking to make a difference.”
A final word of advice…
As you near the end of your pregnancy, you may notice your balance is a bit off-kilter. For someone clumsy like me, it only made my lack of balance more pronounced. So, go with your husband, a friend, mom, dad, or in-laws. And if you’re alone, please use a railing to steady yourself so you don’t fall over!
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, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.