(Disclaimer – For informational / entertainment purposes) Since I’m a man, I’ve had no experience with walking during pregnancy. What I can do is share the experiences of others and what doctors say is helpful for inducing labor.
From all the articles I’ve read, walking doesn’t have a significant effect on inducing labor. That being said, each person’s experience is different, and sometimes walking does seem to promote what seems to be labor-inducing effects.
One experience that I’ve had is kidney stones. And walking and running, may have helped me dislodge my stone.
Walking, in theory, can influence how your baby is positioned and how much gravity is applied inside your body. These factors may have some influence on when labor begins, but caution should always be taken during exercise.
Walking To Induce Labor
Your doctor will have guidelines for how you as an individual should walk during your pregnancy to remain healthy. Most individuals will be able to walk the full term of their pregnancy. Those on bed rest must be extra careful with any type of exercise.
One thing that occurs when keeping fit during pregnancy is that labor may be easier. The body will more naturally follow healthy rhythms when we are fit. We sleep better, have less stress, and feel less pain when we get the exercise we need.
The muscle strength that you develop from walking may help with your delivery. What I wonder is what signals the body gives that start the process of going into labor and does exercise influences those signals.
Your baby can signal you when it’s ready for labor by releasing “a substance that signals the mother’s hormones.”(ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Oxytocin is also related to when women go into labor. When we walk, we can get a release of oxytocin. This doesn’t mean a full-term woman should use walking to trigger pregnancy. Although, oxytocin may be part of the chemical mixture that signals how ready you are for delivery.
Always proceed with caution with any changes you want to make concerning your pregnancy. The most likely best method of creating a health outcome for your baby is to use professional help.
If you feel you need to induce labor because you can wait any longer, remember that you need to wait at least till 39 “weeks gestation”, according to momlovesbest.com
That’s why any changes that you are trying to make in your exercise routine, especially if you are trying to induce labor yourself, need to go through your health care professional.
If Not Walking, What Will Induce Labor
There may not be any clear scientific evidence that confirms that walking will induce labor, although many women feel that it had something to do with their labor beginning.
Women who are at the end of their ropes, and wanting to induce labor naturally have tried a number of techniques. Here’s a list from the nytimes.com:
- Walking – No evidence, although 30% from one study thought it might have helped.
- Spicy Food – No clear evidence.
- Sex – No clear evidence, may even prolong pregnancy.
- Nipple Stimulation – Yes. Some evidence suggests it helps some women go into labor. Note that this method may have risks (evidencebasedbirth.com)
- Acupuncture and Acupressure – No clear evidence.
- Castor Oil – Little evidence with a small study.
There are probably a lot more that could go on this list. Women have been experiencing and sharing their ideas about labor for a long time.
Unfortunately, it’s likely that only your doctor is the only one capable of helping you induce labor effectively. It’s a good idea to let your doctor know if you do plan to try to induce labor because they can give you insights into any risk involved for you personally or in general.
How Long to Walk During Pregnancy
According to kidshealth.org, moderate exercise doesn’t increase the risk of early delivery or loss of pregnancy. If you are considering a weekly walking routine, you can start slowly and then get yourself going out more often or for longer periods.
On this chart, you can see that after three weeks the walker is walking 25 minutes at a time. This may be too aggressive for some and too easy for others. It all depends on your physical fitness beforehand.
If you are getting moderate exercise you are breathing harder and your heartbeat is elevated. So you can monitor yourself as you go out to walk and see if you need to shorten or lengthen your time.
According to mayoclinic.org, “For most pregnant women, at least 30 minutes…” of most every day is recommended. You can see where you’re at by walking at a normal pace for ten minutes for 6 days.
Then if you need to, take it slow and increase 5 minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes of walking each day. If you’re still not breathing harder and your heartbeat isn’t higher, try speeding up your walk. Just use caution to avoid bumping and heavy impacts when walking.
WARNING. As your body changes you may need more supportive shoes if your feet are not strong. Consider that you might need stretchy shoelaces, a more supportive midsole or insole, or larger-sized shoes.
If you walk in non-supportive shoes during pregnancy, you may have issues with your arch. Doing foot exercises and walking barefoot slowly over time can strengthen your foot muscles before and during early pregnancy.
|Week 1||10 Min||10 Min||10 Min||10 Min||10 Min||10 Min|
|Week 2||15 Min||5 Min||15 Min||15 Min||15 Min||15 Min|
|Week 3||20 Min||20 Min||20 Min||20 Min||20 Min||20 Min|
|Week 4||25 Min||25 Min||25 Min||25 Min||25 Min||25 Min|
|Week 5||30 Min||30 Min||30 Min||30 Min||30 Min||30 Min|
While it should be fine for most pregnant women to continue walking 30 minutes each day until their delivery date, some cautions should be followed when walking for longer distances.
- Be with someone who can help if you experience cramps or contractions
- Don’t walk longer distances if you haven’t worked up to it for some time
- Carry your cell phone with you
- Avoid hard strikes with your foot, such as with jumping and running.
- Have enough chocolate available to… just kidding. But keeping yourself hydrated with water is very important during any type of exercise.
- Have supportive shoes that can expand if your feet swell. A good walking shoe during pregnancy should have good arch support and feel comfortable even with swollen feet.
If you are walking long distances during the time you are full-term, then you want to be extra careful if your body is not used to this activity.
One lady who wanted to induce labor regretted walking a long distance to try to induce labor. She was tired of pregnancy and wanted to have the baby already. She says, “I couldn’t wait for my pregnancy to be over.”(romper.com)
After going on a long walk, she started to have contractions, but didn’t have a phone and was far from home. She ended up at the hospital and was given muscle relaxants because her body wasn’t ready to give birth.
This story is a good example of not forcing something to happen before it is ready to happen. The body is ready when it’s ready, and forcing things may not be helpful.
Shoes to Wear
If you plan to do walking for your health or as a way to induce labor, consider getting a good pair of shoes.
It’s likely that you will need shoes that expand and have good arch support, during your pregnancy. One website you may want to visit is Runrepeat.com. Just scroll down to walking shoes and you will have a list of options to choose from on the left side of the page. (See pictures)
I would check off items that would be helpful during pregnancy including all-day wear, slip-on, and flat foot because many pregnant women need extra arch support. Don’t forget to select the size at the top which will also let you select women’s shoes.
I have found several shoes that work well for me, on this website. If you’re looking for a walking shoe that may be helpful during pregnancy I would recommend the following three shoes.
I like these because they are slip-on, expandable shoes, that have good arch support.
These are also slip-on, expandable shoes, that have good arch support.
Another good slip-on shoe, that is expandable and has good arch support.
Having the right walking shoe can greatly aid your daily walking comfort and help with a reduction in achy feet and a sore back. Of course, at times your body is going to be uncomfortable no matter what shoes you choose.
Using walking to exercising will help you stay healthy and may help you when your labor begins.
The jury is still out on if walking helps with inducing labor. Not enough evidence has been shown to support that walking helps. Although, moderate exercise is very healthy during pregnancy and may even help during labor.
It is interesting that the one thing that could help is nipple stimulation. Here’s another article that explains how to do it. Always be safe and get guidance from your health care professional on what’s the best course for you.
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