Any woman that has reached 39 weeks and beyond in their pregnancy has probably considered just about anything to initiate labor. Those last few weeks can get so uncomfortable and most women are ready to say goodbye to all their pregnancy symptoms and meet their little one. Curb walking is one way that you can attempt to stimulate labor when your body is already progressing at home.
Curb walking is not a full proof method to induce labor. Unfortunately, there is no real full proof way other than a formal hospital induction. This post will go through how curb walking can support and help your body naturally go into labor and other options you can try prior to a formal induction.
What is Curb Walking?
Curb walking is pretty simple, you walk with one foot on the curb and the other foot on the road. This gives you an uneven gait which causes some rocking and opening of the pelvis.
Curb walking for labor initiation uses gravity to assist your baby to descend deeper into the pelvis and put more pressure on your cervix. The pressure on your cervix helps to ripen the cervix by causing more dilation and effacement preparing your body for delivery a natural delivery.
Safety Precautions to Consider
Always talk with your medical provider prior to attempting curb walking or other labor inducing alternatives to ensure it is safe for you to try. If you have had a safe, uncomplicated pregnancy with a baby that is positioned head down it is usually safe to implement, but every pregnancy is different. Consulting with your provider is the best option based on your unique situation.
Ensure you are wearing appropriate footwear to avoid falls. Make sure you have a support person to assist you if you naturally go into labor. You may additionally need an extra hand to maintain your balance in the late stages of your pregnancy. Your abdomen can cause you to become off balance more easily so it’s best to have someone standing by if needed.
How to Curb Walk:
- Place one foot on curb
- Place other foot on the road
- Walk with slow small strides
- Switch sides after 5-10 minutes
- One side may be more uncomfortable than the other, if it is painful stop.
If you live in a colder climate or it is unsafe to walk outside you do have the option for alternative methods indoors.
If you want to try curb walking inside you can wear one high heel or thick soled shoe and walk around the house. If you are unsteady it is best to avoid this option. Other options are lateral stair walking, hip hiking, or standing hip shifts. See the video below for proper technique.
This video is from Mamastayfit a pregnancy and postpartum education and fitness resource.
When is it Beneficial
So the real question is does curb walking work? Ideally it is most effective if your body has already started showing signs of readiness for labor such as dilation and effacement of the cervix. Additionally, if you have had some intermittent contractions this may help your contractions become more regular.
Walking in general is a great form of exercise to prepare your body for labor leading up to your your delivery. In a study from 2021 researchers found that walking 40 minutes 4 times a week from the 34th week improved cervix preparation and Bishop Score (score to that indicates readiness for labor), increasing the cases of spontaneous labor and decreasing the cases of induction of labor and cesarean section without causing any undesirable effects on newborn Apgar scores.
If you are less than 38 weeks pregnant, start by regularly incorporating a walk 4 times a week to prepare your body for labor. If 40 minutes is too much for you work up to it over several weeks. Start with 15 minute walks and slowly increase the length of your walks every few days.
It is best to wait to implement curb walking until you are at least 38 weeks, cervix is ripening, and your baby is properly positioned head down.
Other Ways to Stimulate Labor Outside of Formal Induction
There are some other safe alternatives to curb walking that have the potential to stimulate labor:
Membrane stripping or membrane sweep is another option that can lead to a spontaneous labor. It has been shown to be 75-85% success rate in inducing labor and avoiding the need for formal induction. Read more about membrane sweep and whether it is a good choice for you.
Sex is another natural way to induce labor. Sperm contains prostaglandins which encourages the ripening of the cervix and can help stimulate labor. This may not be a safe option in all pregnancies so check with your care provider.
Nipple stimulation releases oxytocin which stimulates breast milk production but oxytocin also stimulates contractions. If your body is already showing signs of readiness for labor using your breast pump to stimulate one nipple at a time has the potential to push your body into labor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Curb Walking is not a guaranteed way to induce labor. There isn’t a lot of specific research to support or refute it as a way to induce labor. However, It is safe for most pregnant women and could be used along with other alternative methods to stimulate a spontaneous labor without a formal induction. You should be at least 38 weeks pregnant with a head down baby before you consider trying these methods for the safety of you and your baby.
And just remember, regardless of when your baby decides to enter the world, your baby will come one way or another.
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.