Things can feel pretty uncomfortable as your due date nears, and if your little one is showing no signs of wanting to come into the world yet, it’s only natural to want to speed the process along.
One technique that is said to bring about labor is curb walking, but what is this exactly?
Curb walking is the act of walking with one foot on the curb or sidewalk and the other foot on the road or lower ground. Moving with this uneven gait causes the pregnant woman’s body weight to shift back and forth, which is believed to induce labor.
Like most word-of-mouth labor-induction methods, curb walking may work for some and not others and should always be done safely first and foremost.
To decide whether curb walking is worth it, let’s find out how it works, when not to curb walk, alternatives to curb walking, and more.
Can Curb Walking Induce Labor?
The theory behind curb walking for labor induction is that the unequal walking pattern created by placing one foot on the curb and one on level ground prompts the pelvis to open up, which is thought to ready the baby’s position for delivery by helping them shift down deeper into the pelvis.
Does Curb Walking Work?
Curb walking may encourage the baby into a better birthing position, “but this activity won’t trigger labor if your body isn’t ready to go into labor” advises OB/GYN Dr. Lydia Lewis at Ochsner Health.
If you are already having contractions, curb walking may help them occur more frequently, notes Dr. Lewis.
Curb walking is simply an activity that helps motivate a body already preparing for labor, so you must have begun dilating and effacing (the thinning out of the cervix to allow baby’s movement into the birth canal) for curb walking to have an impact.
How Fast Does Curb Walking Induce Labor?
As there is currently no hard evidence to suggest curb walking induces labor, there is no concrete answer to how quickly it may take effect.
If you notice that curb walking increases the rate of your contractions, you could theoretically go into labor days or even hours afterward, but this is incredibly individual for every pregnancy.
Does Curb Walking Dilate the Cervix?
It’s thought that the uneven nature of curb walking helps gravity do its thing and send your baby lower into the pelvis, and the deeper into the pelvis baby is, the greater the pressure on your cervix, which may help you to dilate.
When Should I Start Curb Walking To Induce Labor?
Discuss labor-inducing activities with your midwife or doctor, and based on your estimated due date, they may be able to suggest an appropriate time for you to attempt curb walking.
“It’s best to wait until 39 weeks before attempting to induce labor with curb walking” advises Motherhood podcast host and founder of My Bump 2 Baby Carla Lett.
“This activity works best when you have begun the dilation process and are experiencing uterine contractions.”
When You Should NOT Try Curb Walking To Induce Labor
If your pregnancy is healthy, healthcare providers normally discourage any form of induction before 39 weeks to reduce the risk of health problems for the baby, according to Mayo Clinic and maternal health non-profit March of Dimes.
Curb walking should be avoided at all costs in cases of:
- Pre-eclampsia – a condition that can occur 20 weeks and beyond that causes swelling, high blood pressure, and protein in the urine during pregnancy.
- Placenta previa – this condition causes bleeding and occurs when the baby’s placenta covers the cervix.
- A history of premature labor/delivery
- A weak cervix – curb walking would risk premature opening
Please note that this is not to discourage normal levels of physical activity during late pregnancy, however, as regular exercise has not been associated with late preterm birth (and even decreases the odds of c-section delivery).
How Long Should I Curb Walk To Induce Labor?
Depending on your fitness levels, starting with 5-10 minutes a day a few times per week is a good rule of thumb if you don’t usually walk every day.
If you’re more accustomed to regular walks, you could crank this up to 20- or 30-minute curb walks a few times per week.
How To Curb Walk
To curb walk, simply walk with one foot on the ground or road and the other foot on the curb or another raised sidewalk/footpath.
Alternatives to Curb Walking
If the idea of curb walking outdoors doesn’t appeal to you in late pregnancy, there are other methods that imitate curb walking that you can do in the comfort of your own home!
NOTE: Ensure there is always someone with you before attempting these.
Curb Walking on Stairs
Holding on to the railing for support, you can mimic the curb-walking gait by slowly taking the stairs sideways (like a beautiful, glowing crab!).
Depending on your fitness level and comfort, you could gently incorporate a high knee move on the lowest step or do a high knee move as you move up the stairs.
Wear One Shoe With a Heel
A great way to replicate walking along the curb is walking around the house wearing one flat shoe and one heeled shoe (this could be a slightly higher platform shoe or a high-heeled shoe) and time yourself as you would curb walking outside.
However, narrow high-heeled shoes are discouraged in late pregnancy because of the balance issues facing pregnant women.
Use a Yoga Block
Place a yoga block on the floor to mimic the first step of a staircase or step stool.
Opt for a sturdy and durable solid wood yoga block (not cork or foam), and be sure to place the block on a sturdy non-slip surface like a yoga mat.
Use Lowest Step on Step Stool
Holding onto the wall, a nearby railing, or your partner/friend for support, simply do a set of step-ups on and off the lowest step on a stepping stool.
This is the perfect option if you’re at the stage where you still want to stay active but find the staircase too exhausting.
Note that these are not your usual workout, high-intensity lunges! Simply placing one leg out slowly to the side until you can feel a gentle bend in the knee is all that’s needed.
Repeat this on each side for as long as it’s comfortable for you.
Safety Tips When Curb Walking To Induce Labor
As your pregnancy progresses, your body produces the relaxin hormone, causing your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints to go quite loose
Because you’ll be a little unsteadier on your feet, it’s important to attempt curb walking at a slow and gentle pace.
Here are our top safety tips for trying this activity to induce labor:
- Always have someone with you for support in case you lose your balance.
- Avoid curb walking during the hottest part of the day.
- Avoid curb walking on busy streets or roads with potholes/cracks.
- Don’t engage in curb walking to the point of exhaustion.
- Stop immediately if you feel discomfort or pain.
Last but not least, see your doctor regularly to discuss labor-inducing methods like curb walking.
Nobody knows your pregnancy progress and bodily health better than your doctor, so if they approve, you can feel confident about attempting curb walking.
Remember that labor and delivery will soak up a boatload of your energy, so view it like a marathon — you don’t want to use up most of your resources just to get things going!
Curb Walking Success Stories
Some mothers have found success with curb walking when completed as part of the Miles Circuit (a series of repeated positions to coax the baby into a better position).
On the What To Expect community forum, one mom shared that she went from having no contractions at home to having her waters break 3 days after trying the Mile Circuit.
Another revealed that at 37 weeks and 1 day, her baby arrived 9 hours after completing two rounds of walking (one on each side).
In observing the effects of walking during pregnancy in general, a controversial clinical trial of women in their 34th week of pregnancy found that 40 minutes of regular walking 4 times a week resulted in a higher Bishop’s score (a predictor of how close you are to labor).
Using this as a reference for curb walking much closer to your due date for your baby’s safety, it would seem that gentle, regular exercise could have similarly positive results.
Other Natural Ways To Get Labor Started
Curb walking is not your only option for trying to get the labor process rolling.
- Regular walking – Walking is at the top of most doctors’ recommendations for naturally inducing labor.
- Moderate exercise – 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 times per week (like fast walking, hiking, water aerobics, vacuuming, etc.) may help to induce labor and can be beneficial in any stage of pregnancy, according to Ochsner Health.
- Sex – Sperm contains hormones known as prostaglandins that can help to thin out the cervix in preparation for delivery. (A bit of tension relief can’t do any harm at this stage either!)
- Nipple stimulation – Massaging or gently twisting the nipples releases oxytocin, which can help bring on contractions.
To sum up, some pregnant women have found success with curb walking, so there is something to be said for walking in a way that opens up your pelvis to guide your baby into an optimal birthing position or make your contractions more regular.
As with any labor-inducing technique, however, your body won’t respond if it isn’t ready for labor (baby calls the shots after all, and they will always come out in their own time!).
Always ensure you have your doctor’s approval before attempting any labor-inducing methods, and make sure you have someone with you at all times for safety and support.
Rebecca is a seasoned copywriter and researcher with over a decade of experience, specializing in parenting topics. With a passion for all aspects of raising children, from breastfeeding to potty training.