10 Low-Impact Exercises To Induce Labor And Precautions

Written by Charushila Biswas , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

Are you nearing the due date? Don’t worry. Certain low-impact exercises may help stimulate labor and deliver the baby with ease. Kim Vopni, Pelvic Health Coach and Founder and CEO of Pelvienne Wellness Inc., says, “Exercising in pregnancy is essential, and my philosophy is to exercise in ways that mimic the demands of labor.  I encourage people to build strength and endurance in positions that mimic labor and birth positions.” Here is a guide to 10 exercises you can do to induce labor naturally, when it is okay to exercise to induce labor, and safety precautions to practice. Scroll down!

Is It Okay To Stimulate Labor Through Exercising?

Exercising and physical activity are good for your health, pregnant or not. But you have to be extra careful if you are pregnant. Sometimes, it may not be good for you to exercise to induce labor. It is NOT okay to induce spontaneous labor through exercising if you:

  • Have pregnancy complications
  • Have low or high amniotic fluid
  • Have hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Are on bed rest as per the doctor’s instructions
  • Have preeclampsia (signs of organ damage)
  • Have a history of premature labor
  • Have an incompetent cervix or cervix that opens too early
  • Have placenta-related complications

Note: Talk to your doctor before you start exercising to induce labor. Do the following exercises only if they give you the green signal. Take a look.

10 Exercises To Induce Labor Naturally

1. Walking And Curb Walking

Walking is a low-impact exercise that is easy on your joints and the lower body. “I am a big fan of walking and curb walking as an exercise to induce labor,” says Kim Vopni.

If you are not sure what curb walking is, here’s a short video:

Take your partner’s or friend’s help and practice walking and curb walking to help move the baby’s head towards the cervix.

2. Pelvic Circles On A Ball

This exercise can help reduce back pain and boost your flexibility. It helps the mommy-to-be relax.

Steps

  • Sit on a gym ball with your feet wide apart on the floor, and hands on the waist. Roll the shoulders back and look forward.
  • Move your waist like you would while doing waist circles. Start with small circles. Keep your feet grounded on the floor.
  • Do 10 reps and repeat on the other side.

3. Pelvic Tilts On A Ball

Pelvic tilts strengthen your lower back and abdominal muscles, improve hip mobility, and reduce pain during labor.

Steps

  • Sit on an exercise ball with your legs wide apart, feet on the floor, hands on your waist, and look forward.
  • Push your hips back, creating a small arch at the lower back.
  • Push your pelvis forward.
  • Do this 15-20 times.

4. Cat And Cow

The cat and cow pose helps bring the baby in an optimal pose for birth. It also stretches and strengthens the spine and eases tension.

Steps

  • Get on all fours on a mat with the elbows directly under the shoulders. Keep your spine and neck in the same line.
  • Inhale, drop the belly to form a curve, and look up.
  • Exhale, pull the belly in, and look down.
  • Do this 10-15 times.

5. Supported Deep Squat Or Malasana

Malasana or deep squat is the traditional birthing pose. It helps open up the pelvic joints and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. It is the best pose for labor.

Steps

  • Place an exercise block or a small stool on a mat.
  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Bend down from the waist and touch the floor.
  • Lower your hip and place it on the exercise block or the stool.
  • Join your hands, keep your elbows against the knees, and gently push the knees out.
  • Inhale and exhale while you do so. You will feel the stretch in your inner thighs and the pelvic area.
  • Hold this pose and relax for 20-30 seconds.
  • Do this three times before leaning forward, placing your hands and knees on the floor, and getting on all fours.

6. Forward Leaning

The forward-leaning pose is more of a preparatory exercise for you and your baby. It helps provide more room for the baby to move around and get to the optimal position for birth and onset of labor. You may either use a chair or an exercise ball.

Steps

  • Kneel on a mat.
  • Place an exercise ball in front of you.
  • Place your arms on the ball, as shown in the image.
  • Rock sideways in small motions.
  • Keep breathing.
  • Do this for about 30 seconds.

7. Lower Back Release

The lower back release exercise helps stretch the spine, especially the lower back, and relieves pain. This position relaxes the belly and gets the baby into an optimal birth position.

Steps

  • Place a chair in front of you.
  • Hold the backrest of the chair and take 2-3 steps back.
  • Keep your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, and turn your toes out.
  • Bend down from the waist and get into a position where your spine is parallel to the floor. Feel the stretch in your spine and hamstrings.
  • Keep breathing and hold this pose for 20 seconds.
  • Do this as many times as you are comfortable.

8. Sumo Squat

The sumo squat also helps open up the pelvic area, the hips, and the lower back.

Steps

  • Stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Place your hands on the waist.
  • Push your hips out, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Keep breathing and hold this pose for about 20-30 seconds.
  • Repeat as many times as you are comfortable.

9. TRX Squat

TRX bands are easily available in gyms. You can also use resistance bands. Do this exercise under the supervision of an instructor. This squat helps open the pelvis, relax the upper body, and reduce lower back pain.

Steps

  • Secure a TRX or exercise band at a higher position.
  • Hold the ends and take a few steps back so that the band is nice and tight.
  • Keep your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, with the toes pointing out. This is the starting position.
  • Push your hips out, bend your knees, and lower your body until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Ensure your knees don’t overshoot the toes.
  • Hold this pose for about 20 seconds.
  • Get back to the starting position.
  • Do this 10-15 times.

10. Child’s Pose

This is a great way to end your exercise routine. The child’s pose helps relax and open up the pelvis while stretching the inner thighs nicely.

Steps

  • Kneel on a mat with your knees pointing to the corners and toes pointing to each other.
  • Bring your right hand in front of you and place it on the mat.
  • Place the left hand on the mat. Extend both arms.
  • Slowly, bend down from the waist.
  • You may move your knees apart to give your belly space.
  • Look down and keep breathing.
  • Do this as many times as you feel comfortable.

These are the 10 exercises you can do to help the baby get into the optimal position for birth. However, before you unroll your yoga mat, here are some precautions to keep in mind.

Precautions To Take

  • Always do the exercises on a mat.
  • If you experience pain while doing any of these exercises, stop immediately.
  • Never exercise without your doctor’s permission.
  • Ask a friend or your partner to help.
  • Do these exercises with an instructor to get the best results.
  • Use good-quality exercise balls and blocks.
  • Do not overdo these exercises.
  • Keep yourself hydrated.

The Takeaway

Preparing your body for labor by doing the right exercises ensures comfortable and easy delivery. The labor-inducing exercises discussed in the article expand the pelvic area, helping the baby to adjust at an optimal birth position. Perform them only after talking to your doctor and follow all precautions. However, avoid the exercises if you have hypertension or other pregnancy-related conditions.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Can squatting induce labor?

Yes, squatting or deep squats may induce and prepare the body for labor. The traditional birthing pose helps open the pelvis, making way for the baby for a comfortable delivery.

What are the sleeping positions to induce labor?

Side-lying sleeping position, knees bent, with a pillow between your legs is a good sleeping position for labor.

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