While home exercises that can possibly initiate labor might not induce labor immediately, they can enhance a pregnant woman’s alignment and encourage the baby to assume a delivery position. In this article, experts discuss how to perform these exercises safely and efficiently.
By the end of the third trimester, most expecting parents are eager to get the show on the road. Joyce Gottesfeld, M.D., an OB-GYN for Kaiser Permanente in Denver, says, “[many people] feel uncomfortable being pregnant and wish they weren’t.” Some consider inducing labor themselves if their due date passes without any indication that labor is imminent. In fact, at that point, a great number of pregnant women are searching for methods to induce labor tonight.
What Can I Do Safely at Home?
Is it safe? Ilana Ressler, M.D., a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist in Connecticut, recommends that all pregnant women discuss labor induction and any plans to undertake it at home with their physician. Dr. Ressler says that anyone with elevated pregnancy or medical concerns should never attempt to induce labor on their own.
She acknowledges, however, that some pregnant women may wish to “create favorable conditions” for labor to progress normally. This may involve guiding the baby into position and enhancing the pregnant woman’s body alignment through exercise. The good news is that this can be done safely with calm, systematic motions.
“One of the most crucial things a low-risk person can do is exercise (or movement in general), pay attention to their posture, and align themselves correctly,” says Ashley Brichter, founder and CEO of Birth Smarter, a company that provides in-person and virtual childbirth classes to expectant parents.
She says that for labor to begin smoothly and continue to proceed, the baby should be in the correct position (head down and ideally facing your back with their chin tucked). Pregnant women should also promote good body alignment in order to create more room in their lower backs, which permits the baby to rotate and descend. Brichter states, “I would look for postural training and an attempt to bring balance to the body and pelvis.” The following exercises may assist in preparing your body for childbirth.
The Most Effective Home Exercises for Inducing Labor
There is no established way to induce labor safely at home, but there are things you may do to prepare your body for labor and urge your baby to assume the best position. Will this occur tonight? Attempting these methods to induce labor may or may not prepare your body for the real thing.
Always consult with your prenatal care practitioner before attempting any labor-inducing activities at home. When you’re ready and have been given the all-clear, you can try the following to prepare for birth.
1. Parallel your feet.
Brichter explains, “Many pregnant women splay their feet widely, but putting their toes parallel can assist separate the sitz bones.” This creates more space in the patient’s lower back, which facilitates labor and delivery.
2. Maintain alignment.
Instead of protruding your stomach forward while standing, keep your hips above your ankles. This position, which can be assumed while doing the dishes, waiting in line at the grocery store, etc., stimulates the baby to assume the correct position. Brichter advises, similarly, to avoid slouching when seated.
3. Seat yourself on a birthing ball.
According to Brichter, sitting in neutral, wide-legged positions on an exercise or birthing ball prepares the body for labor by improving blood flow, expanding the pelvis, and promoting cervical dilation. Additionally, you can attempt birth ball movements like as hip rotations in a circle, rocking, and gently bouncing.
4. Do pelvic tilts.
During vaginal delivery, the pelvic bones separate to make room for the baby’s head. Maintain joint mobility by performing pelvic tilt exercises.
Here is one technique to accomplish them: Place your feet flat against the floor while on your back and bend your knees. Slowly raise the pelvis until it is parallel to the trunk. Hold for ten seconds, then return to the beginning position and repeat a number of times.
5. Take the butterfly position.
You may be familiar with the butterfly stance from dance or yoga class, but did you know it can promote pelvic joint flexibility, improve blood flow, and facilitate childbirth? To assume the position, sit erect on the floor and bring your feet together while bending your knees. To extend your hips and inner thighs, pull your feet toward your body. Remember to breathe into it.
6. Go on a walk.
Maintaining a regular exercise regimen, particularly aerobic exercises with moderate impact, such as walking, has numerous benefits during pregnancy. However, walking can also be used to induce labor since it facilitates cervical effacement and dilation and allows the baby to descend into the pelvis. Walking may also alleviate some of the anxiety associated with labor and delivery.
7. Perform lunges.
Lunges help to extend the hips and widen the pelvis, which helps the baby get into the best position possible for birth. Here are the steps: Take a large step forward with one leg while maintaining knee alignment over the ankle. The opposite leg should be lowered until it is parallel to the ground. Return to the beginning posture and perform the same movement with the opposite leg.
Who Should Not Use Physical Activity to Induce Labor?
While specialists frequently promote regular exercise for low-risk pregnant women, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends stopping if you encounter the following symptoms during exercise:
- Abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Calf pain or swelling
- Fluid leaking
- Muscle weakness affecting balance
- Chest pain
- Regular, painful contractions
- Vaginal bleeding
Always discuss your plans to induce or stimulate labor through exercise with your healthcare professional, particularly if you are pregnant with a high-risk baby. Consider with a physical therapist on your plans.
Brichter states, “Midwives and OB-GYNs are excellent at keeping pregnant women safe, but they are not always experts in the body’s structure.” Physical therapists should be consulted by anyone considering exercise and mobility during labor.
“Do not force labor if your body is not ready,” advises Dr. Gottesfeld. Even though exercise can prepare the body for childbirth, it is not a proven means of inducing labor naturally. Dr. Ressler adds, “If someone is interested in attempting labor induction, they should speak with their physician.”