There are still so many mysteries surrounding birth and labor. But one thing is for sure…the end of your pregnancy is totally uncomfortable.
In fact, I considered my day a success during my pregnancies in that 9th month when I found a way to be comfortable for even just 5 minutes.
Once your baby drops down in your pelvis, you are getting close. You will be going on those weekly checkups to have your doctor see how things are progressing and check for any dilation.
If you’re in your 39th week, though, you may be eager to get things going. Can walking help with that?
Can walking really induce labor?
Unfortunately, science can’t quite prove that walking really induces labor. However, many women have tales to tell about how walking helped send them into labor.
I want to clarify that if you’re walking in your 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th month, or beyond, walking will not send you into labor. It may only help when your body is ready to go into labor, which only happens at the end of the 9th month.
Walking is a great exercise to do during your pregnancy. Especially if you weren’t big on exercise before, I highly recommend you do it if you’re not on bed rest to prime your body for the exhaustion labor will bring.
So, even though science can’t fully prove this theory, there are enough people out there experiencing this phenomenon. That begs the question…how could walking help push you into labor?
Many believe that it helps your cervix dilate.
Well, does it dilate your cervix?
Let’s look at full-term pregnancy. When you have your baby’s head down in the pelvis, primed for the birthing stage, this puts a ton of pressure on your cervix.
And this, mamas, is why it is so dang uncomfortable.
So, if you use gravity’s natural force, that weight from your baby can put enough force on your cervix, causing it to dilate.
I do not recommend you try to make yourself dilate before the 39th week. Additionally, I think you should speak to your doctor first to ensure you’re safe. Every birth is different, and while walking could help, it may not be a good idea in your situation. Only your doctor will know.
How can I walk to dilate my cervix?
While there are no specific recommendations across the board about how you should walk, there are a few tips to follow. I’ll get into those in a moment, but you should listen to your body and not push yourself. Keep a pace that doesn’t cause you to overdo things.
Also, make sure you’re wearing proper shoes. It’s always a good idea to go with someone else, like your spouse, another family member, or a friend. They can help keep you from losing your balance and falling. They can also help if you get too tired or you do start to go into labor.
How about curb walking?
I’ve written about curb walking before (you can check that out here), though it basically entails walking with one foot up on a curb and the other on the road to creating an uneven gait.
How would that help? Good question! Because it’s uneven, it may potentially open your pelvis up, allowing your baby to descend more and hit that cervix.
Unfortunately, no studies exist for this, but if my inbox is any indication, it definitely works for many mamas.
Will curb walking work?
Not always, but it is worth a shot. While they can’t confirm it can work, it isn’t harmful when you practice safety precautions. That means having someone by your side to hold your hand and keep you from falling.
At the end of pregnancy, we can be much clumsier because of the hormones that prime our bodies for birth. Add to that the lopsided dimensions we now hoist around with us, and it is the perfect recipe for toppling over, which can harm the baby.
Also, while walking and curb walking can help move your baby to a better birthing position, they will not trigger labor if your body isn’t ready for it.
What do doctors recommend?
That said, if you’ve been going to your checkups and you’re at the 39th or 40th week, and dilation has slowly started, you may be able to motivate things and get the ball rolling. Some women report this has helped get contractions to become more regular.
Walking of any kind, with a curb or without, can be very helpful to you throughout your pregnancy. Most doctors recommend this exercise to keep fit and prime your body for labor and delivery.
It may not kick labor off for you, or you may find it helpful. You’ll never know until you try, but again, check with your doctor first!
How much should you walk to induce labor?
Again, I can’t guarantee you that walking will induce labor. It may. It may not. Total crapshoot here.
But if you want to try it, here’s what to know about how much you should walk.
For fit mamas that have been walking throughout the pregnancy, 30 to 40 minutes a day of walking is good. If you start feeling fatigued, stop and get rest. It’s so important to listen to the cues your body gives you.
If you aren’t active, you can start with your doctor’s blessings and walk 15 to 20 minutes daily for 4 days a week.
But if you’re already at the end of your pregnancy, you shouldn’t even do that much. 10 minutes per day will be fine, especially if you only do curb walking. In fact, every mama trying curb walking should put a 10-minute time limit on it per session.
Never go on too long a walk to attempt to induce labor. You do not want to fatigue yourself. And what if you DO go into labor? Then you’ll already start exhausted; believe me, it is such an exhausting thing.
When my eldest turned around inside me, and I’d been in labor for nearly 24 hours, I was just done. I kept yelling at everyone to get the baby out of me because I could not handle it anymore. It became an emergency c-section situation from there.
In any event, if your doctor thinks it’s a good idea for your situation, give it a try. And do let me know if you wound up going into labor. I’d love to hear about it!
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.