6 Exercises to Help Induce Labor

The last weeks of pregnancy are often uncomfortable, and most of us get to the point of wishing to speed up the time and get the baby out ASAP. With swollen feet, an achy back, acid reflux, and sleepless nights, who can blame you? So the question often arises: What can I do to get this baby to come?

First, try to remember that a due date is only an estimate. Most women start feeling desperate a couple of weeks (or more) before the due date, but baby is not considered late, or post-term, until after 42 weeks. So when you are feeling like you just can’t go on another day and you are only 37 weeks pregnant, remember you may have a full month to go before baby is ready to come so be patient!

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), term pregnancy is defined as:
– Early Term: Between 37 weeks 0 days and 38 weeks 6 days
– Full Term: Between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days
– Late Term: Between 41 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 6 days
– Post-term: Between 42 weeks 0 days and beyond

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If you are past the 37 week mark and would like to help encourage your baby to make his appearance sooner rather than later, aside from perhaps the old wives tales of eating spicy foods and pineapple, certain activities can help.

Sex, sex, and more sex

Orgasm can help stimulate uterine contractions and semen can help soften the cervix. Enough said?

Go for a walk

Taking a walk every day is good practice for overall fitness, but in those last weeks it can help baby to engage in the pelvis.

Nipple stimulation

Manually rolling the nipples between the fingers or using a breast pump for even stronger stimulation can jump start uterine contractions. Breastfeeding after baby’s arrival naturally helps the uterus contract back to its original size for the same reason.

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Deep squats

Aside from helping the pelvis to spread to prepare the body for birth, the full squat position helps the baby engage deeper into the pelvis, so I recommend spending up to five minutes at a time several times a day once your baby is already in a head down position.

Get on the ball

I encourage expectant moms to spend a lot of time on an exercise ball in the last trimester. Sitting on a yoga ball and gently rolling the pelvis to make circles helps to relax the low back and hip muscles and bouncing gently can give the baby a gravity-assisted push toward the exit. And bonus: Those same movements on the ball provide great relief during labor.

Bouncy exercise

In addition to bouncing on the ball, other bouncy exercise can help coax the baby deeper into the pelvis. While you should avoid high-impact exercise, you can still do low impact exercise that includes a little bounce, such as lunges and squats and others in the video below.

Don’t try to rush things too much, though. According to ACOG, “Babies born between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days gestation have the best health outcomes, compared with babies born before or after this period.” Patience is a great virtue in pregnancy, as it is in motherhood. Your baby may need more time, even if you are just over it.

Micky Marie Morrison, PT, ICPFE

(Photo: Corbis Images)

More from The Bump:

Best Things Moms Brought To The Hospital

8 Ways To Deal With Pregnancy’s Aches And Pains

5 Foods To Avoid When Breastfeeding

10 Ways To Get Better Sleep During Pregnancy

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