Sadly, the nights of sleeping on your belly or back with ease are behind you, but this is a good thing!
As you approach your due date (or pass it), it’s helpful to try some alternative slumber positions to help baby on his/her way.
Let’s look at some of the sleeping positions you can try to help induce labor and some other natural ways to coax your little bundle along!
1. Left Side With Upper Leg Forward, Bent and Elevated
This side-sleeping position helps to gently stretch the perineum and widen your pelvis.
Placing a pillow between your knees and resting your left arm beneath your head, raise your upper (right) leg, and gently bend this leg at the knee and hip, keeping it elevated.
You can use a couple of pregnancy support pillows to help you with this one. A long full-body pillow can help keep your leg elevated at night, and an optional pillow wedge can support your bump for extra comfort.
If possible, you could get your partner to ease your leg into this raised position before bed.
TIP: You can do this on your left OR right side. A 2019 medical review found that either position is safe for women in the third trimester. Only a supine sleeping position (on your back) has been associated with health risks for mother and baby.
2. Sitting Upright
Gravity is your friend at this late stage, so sleeping in an upright sitting position means baby is pressing on your cervix and encouraging it to open.
It may also help your little one get into the optimal birthing position (head down and facing your spine).
Use a back support pillow to cushion your back from the headboard or couch, and keep your legs either closed, apart, or in a crossed position. Try each to see what feels most comfortable for you.
3. Slightly Reclined
A C-shaped or L-shaped pregnancy pillow can help you sleep comfortably in a semi-reclined position.
This position is quite common to give birth in as the pelvis is open and fully accessible while the legs are in a wide symmetrical pose.
Note that this may not feel comfortable if you’re experiencing tailbone pain or pain from “back labor” (when baby is facing your belly, causing your ligaments to stretch due to the added weight of their front-facing position).
Another beneficial sleeping position — and one commonly adopted during labor — is kneeling. This helps to open up your pelvis and ease back pain.
This can be much simpler if you have an adjustable bed that raises up in a reclined position, allowing you to kneel on the lower portion of the bed while resting your upper body and arms on the raised head of the bed.
If not, you can still replicate this by kneeling on a pile of support pillows facing your headboard.
You can also try resting in this position during the day using a birthing/exercise ball if you have one.
Other Natural Ways To Induce Labor
There are other positions and remedies to help induce labor during the daytime. These natural methods — from specific walking techniques to drinking raspberry tea — are also believed to help your labor along.
A good old-fashioned walk every few days can sometimes do the trick.
Depending on how fit you have been throughout the pregnancy, you could try a 20-30 minute walk for 3-4 days out of the week.
Otherwise, start out with a 10-15 minute walk, and see how you go from there. Stay hydrated!
2. Curb Walking
To take your walking game up a notch, you could try “curb walking.” Just as it sounds, curb walking involves walking with one foot on the curb or sidewalk and the other foot on the road/ground.
As odd as you might feel, this uneven gait is said to help nudge your body into labor by opening your pelvis and encouraging the baby to get into a deeper position.
Sex might be the last thing you feel like doing with your extra cargo and fatigue, but there are three reasons you might want to give it a try:
- When you orgasm, the oxytocin released in your body can cause uterine contractions.
- Semen contains prostaglandins, a hormone that can essentially help to soften and ripen your cervix.
- It’s a great stress reliever in this super uncomfortable period!
4. Nipple Stimulation
Like sex, arousing the nipples also releases the happy hormone oxytocin into the body, which in turn can cause your uterine muscles to contract.
A slight issue with this trick is that it can sometimes work a little too well, causing strong and prolonged contractions, which may decrease blood flow to your little one, so be sure to speak with your doctor about safe levels of nipple massage.
As long as the practice of acupuncture is deemed medically safe for mom and baby, this can be worth a try.
The insertion of fine needles into certain pressure points on the body is thought to help kickstart uterine contractions and activity, signaling showtime for your baby!
Acupressure is similar to acupuncture but traditionally uses fingertips instead of needles and targets two very specific pressure points — the webbing between your thumb and forefinger and your inner leg just above the ankle bone.
According to Healthline, this is thought to “increase blood flow to the uterus and stimulate uterine contractions.” Again, don’t forget to get the green light from your doctor on this one.
7. Gently Bouncing on Exercise Ball
Childbirth educator Ashley Brichter suggests that sitting on an exercise ball is a great way to prepare the body for labor.
Sitting or gently bouncing on an exercise ball in a wide-leg position not only keeps you in an upright posture to let gravity do its thing, but it also helps to open up the pelvis, increase blood flow, and encourage the cervix to dilate.
You can also try gentle hip rotations and rocking on the ball too.
Doing a few lunge reps a few times a day can help coax the baby into an ideal birthing position as it opens both your hips and pelvis (and it doesn’t have to be scary either!)
Standing up straight, simply take a big step forward with one leg while simultaneously dropping the other leg so it’s parallel to the ground.
9. Evening Primrose Oil
Some midwives swear by evening primrose supplements to help labor along. These capsules can be taken either orally or vaginally, and a few studies have found that both methods helped the cervix to ripen faster.
Be sure to ask your doctor about this first as the research is still largely inconclusive on the effectiveness and safety of this tip.
10. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
It’s often claimed that sipping on raspberry leaf tea can help to strengthen the uterus and assist in uterine contractions during labor.
Health journalist Claudia Boyd-Barrett from Baby Center warns against consuming too much of it at once though as this can lead to “intense contractions, nausea, and diarrhea.”
A nice, soothing massage brings on the happy hormone oxytocin and gives you that warm, loosey-goosey feeling that can be quite conducive to labor.
Make an appointment with a prenatal massage therapist or discuss some simple, safe massage techniques with your doctor so that perhaps your partner could try them out.
12. Castor Oil
Many alternative health practitioners like to swear by castor oil to induce labor.
It’s thought to help encourage the uterine muscles to contract, but as with a few remedies on this list, it may work for some women and not for others.
In large doses, castor oil can be quite a powerful laxative and could lead to dehydration, so always discuss this labor-inducing method with your doctor first.
13. Getting Cozy in Bed
There’s a reason why many women tend to go into labor late at night. This is usually the time when the mom-to-be is warm and snug in bed — triggering the release of oxytocin in the body.
Try getting extra cozy and relaxed in bed by cuddling with your partner or your fur baby!
There is no one definitive sleeping position to help induce labor, but those that help gravity along and open up the pelvis, such as upright and side-sleeping positions with elevated legs, are considered very beneficial in your third trimester.
As for other natural ways of encouraging labor, always be sure to get your doctor’s approval before taking any supplements or using stimulating methods as you want to make sure your labor is given a healthy “nudge” rather than a full-on sprint!
Mom of three (including identical twin boys), wife, and owner of Parents Wonder. This is my place to share my journey as a mother and the helpful insights I learn along the way.