Women near the end of pregnancy often can’t wait to meet the newest addition to the family. The aches, swelling and growing abdomen cause some women to pursue natural ways to induce labor at home. Certain exercises help prepare the body for labor and may get the contractions going if the conditions are right.
The exact cause of the body beginning labor is complex and difficult to pinpoint. Some women are dilated for weeks before they actually deliver. Contractions could begin long before real labor begins. Exercise may help speed along the labor if the body is already prepared to deliver the baby, but it won’t likely start labor if your body isn’t ready.
Many pregnant women grow anxious as the due date approaches. Once you reach 37 weeks you are considered full-term, but that doesn’t mean your baby is ready to make his grand debut. The due date is only an estimate based on your last menstrual period. If your cycle is irregular or you aren’t sure when you had your last period, the due date might be less accurate. Consult your physician before trying to start labor with exercise to ensure you are at a safe point in the pregnancy.
Exercise during pregnancy prepares the body for the labor and delivery. Even if the exercise doesn’t start real labor, it will build up the body’s endurance to help you last through a long labor. Certain exercises help the baby move down. The pressure of the baby could help the cervix dilate further.
Walking is an option when your body is nearing labor. Gravity and the motion of walking helps ease your baby to a lower position. You might experience more contractions while you walk, although they will probably stop when you stop walking unless your body is ready to go into labor. Walking upstairs helps open up the pelvis to prepare the body for labor. Squats also help open up the pelvis and lower the baby into an ideal birthing position. Sexual intercourse is another form of physical activity often recommended to start labor. The semen can cause the cervix to dilate or soften. Orgasm might also cause contractions.
Exercises that lower the baby toward the birth canal also pose certain risks. If your baby is not in the proper, head-down birthing position, these exercises could cause your baby to drop in the breech position. This increases your risk for a c-section delivery. Balance also becomes an issue in the late stages of pregnancy when your abdomen is very large. Perform the exercises with your partner nearby in case you need support.