Get Outta There, Baby
What Is Curb Walking & How Does It Help Jumpstart Labor?
At this point, you’ll try anything to induce labor.
After months of growing an entire human in your womb, when you’re ready, you’re ready, and you’ll try pretty much anything to induce labor naturally. From eating spicy foods to having sex, there are a number of ways to help your body kick off the birthing process. Some ideas are more involved than others (like using a breast pump or having your membranes stripped), but sometimes a good, long walk can do the trick. While you’re on that walk, you might even try curb walking to induce labor.
What is curb walking, exactly?
When I first heard of the term, I envisioned someone placing one foot in front of the other while walking along a curb like a gymnast on a balance beam — a thing that seems like a pretty insurmountable task at 40 weeks pregnant. As it turns out, curb walking is not that at all. While you’ll definitely need to keep your balance to do it, the actual act is simply walking with one foot up on a curb and the other foot off the curb.
Dr. Kim Langdon, an obstetrician, tells Romper that this particular style of walking can help prepare the body to give birth. “It is thought that this opens up the pelvis with the uneven gait,” she explains.
How does curb walking help induce labor?
“The bones of the pelvis have to move in order for the baby to move down into the pelvic bowl, and then eventually out of the birth canal,” birth educator and doula Sara Lyon tells Romper. “Curb walking shifts the pelvis in multiple directions at once, offsetting the bones with every step up and then down, and making more room for the fetus to descend. The pressure of the baby’s head descending onto the cervix can stimulate contractions.”
That sounds simple enough, right? When you’ve worked your way through an entire list of ways to induce labor naturally and nothing else is making baby budge, curb walking could be worth a shot. As for when it’s OK to try to induce labor at home, experts say it’s best to have a discussion to have with your midwife or physician before giving any natural induction technique — curb walking included — a try.
Safety precautions to consider when curb walking
It’s not the kind of thing you want to try on a busy street, but experts say curb walking can be done safely. “Assuming you are able-bodied, curb walking is absolutely a safe way to attempt to induce labor,” Lyon tells Romper. “There are no more risk factors than walking up the stairs in your house.”
Langdon does caution potential curb walkers that the act “could lead to pain in pubic symphysis since that bone has a membranous attachment that stretches during pregnancy.” She recommends alternating which foot is on the curb and which one is on the street “so you don’t end up with odd back or hip pain.”
Of course, if curb walking makes you uncomfortable or causes pain, you should stop and consult your doctor. Otherwise, Lyon offers this advice for expectant parents ready to try curb walking to induce labor: “Wear sturdy shoes, bring water if it’s hot outside, take a partner with you if you’re unstable on your feet, find a curb on a relatively flat street, and go for it!”
Sara Lyon, doula, owner/director Glow Birth & Body, author The Birth Deck and You’ve Got This
Dr. Kim Langdon, OB-GYN with Medzino