So you have reached the last part of your pregnancy and are almost ready for birth, congratulations!
What if your due date is here but baby is making no sign of wanting to make an entrance into the outside world? Luckily, there are a whole host of exercises to induce labor naturally that you can try at home.
While they can help induce contractions, they can't make you go into labor if your body isn't ready to give birth. That's why if you do them before your body is ready to give birth, they won't induce preterm labor.
These gentle exercises can encourage labor in pregnant women safely and naturally, so try incorporating one or two into your day. Not only do they prep your body for the big event, but they also help relax you, as most of them incorporate breathing techniques that will be useful when you go into labor.
Can Exercises Help Induce Labor?
If a pregnant woman is in the third trimester of her pregnancy and her body is ready for birth, there are several safe and effective exercises she can do to help induce labor naturally.
In order to go into labor, your cervix needs to be 'ripe', or soft. Exercises can't influence the cervix's readiness to go into labor, so if your cervix isn't ripe, these exercises won't induce labor. But if your cervix is soft enough to dilate then these exercises might kick off your contractions! These activities are intended for use in weeks 39 and 40, but you can practice them before this to get yourself ready for labor and birth.
Exercise can help transition you into active labor if your body is already in the early stages of labor. Exercise can also help get your baby into position ready for birth and put more pressure on your cervix, which can prompt the uterus to start contractions.
Which Exercises Can Help?
So what are the best exercises to induce labor at 40 weeks and are there any guaranteed ways to induce labor through exercise?
Deep Diaphragmatic Breaths On All Fours
This is a great low-impact exercise to start off with, and one you can do anytime to relax. This exercise integrates breath work with pelvic floor activation.
For this breath exercise, get down onto all fours, with your shoulders over your wrists and your knees aligned with your hips. Breath in and out rhythmically through your nose, making each exhale as long as possible. On each inhale, try to focus on lengthening your pelvic floor with a slow pushing movement. When you exhale, focus on drawing the pelvic floor back in. This exercise can naturally soften your pelvic floor.
Getting on all fours to induce labor might not be possible, as simply getting into this position is unlikely to suddenly make you go into active labor, but this activity can help get the baby into the right position to kickstart the process.
Why not try pelvic tilts to induce labor? This exercise is similar to a popular yoga exercise, the Cat-Cow yoga pose. This yoga exercise requires you to get onto all fours with your hips directly above your knees and your wrists directly below your shoulders.
Start slowly breathing in and breathing out. On each exhale gently tilt your pelvis inwards towards your belly. On each exhale, tilt your pelvis outwards towards the sky. You can also incorporate pelvic floor exercise into this activity, by releasing and contracting your pelvic floor in time with your breathing.
Many people use yoga to induce labor, as it relaxes both the mind and the body and doesn't have to be too strenuous.
Squatting is a safe and natural birthing position, and doing regular squats towards the end of your pregnancy can signal to your body that it can begin preparing for labor.
To do squats, stand with your feet hip-distance apart with your feet slightly pointing outwards. Bend your knees and lower yourself until your butt is at about knee-level. Don't go too far as you don't want to topple over! Ground yourself through your feet to help you return to a standing position. Once you are confident with your squats you can try to go lower if you want, or hold the pose at the lowest point and focus on your breathing. Holding your squat helps to open your hips and soften and lengthen the pelvic floor.
Another all-fours exercise to induce labor, this is another of the more gentle recommended exercises to induce labor at 38 weeks and beyond.
For your starting position, again get onto your hands and knees. Make sure your lower back is straight and try to lengthen your spine by keeping your neck relaxed. Look down as you do the exercise or gently ahead. Don't strain your neck to look up.
Now gently push your hips back towards your feet as you inhale, and draw your hips back into the starting position on your exhale. This exercise is great for opening the pelvis and hips.
Pregnancy Ball Exercises To Induce Labor
A birthing ball or exercise ball is great when you are in the final stages of pregnancy. For this ball exercise, sit on the pregnancy ball and use the ball to help you make a circle with your pelvis, first one way and then the other. This will help get the pelvis ready for delivery and ease any strain on the back. This is a great exercise for relieving tension in your lower body and relaxing the hips and pelvis for the big day.
Happy Baby Pose
This is another easy yoga exercise that a pregnant woman can do to help speed up the labor process. Lie on your back and lift your feet up into the air. Grab a foot with both hands, on the insole if you can, and gently pull back so that your legs fall back towards your ears. (They probably won't stretch back that far at this point in your pregnancy!) Allow your body to gently relax into the pose. If this position is comfortable for you, try rocking gently from side to side. This has the added bonus of giving you a back massage at the same time!
If this position is hard on your lower back, lay some pillows down before you begin, either under the small of your back or under your shoulders and upper back. Take care when getting up from this position, as you could put your back out by getting up too quickly. Roll slowly over onto one side first, and get onto all fours from there.
The butterfly pose is another yoga pose. The butterfly is the upright version of the Cat-Cow pose and will help you prepare for all the pushing you will be doing in labor. For this activity, sit upright, with your knees pointing outwards and your feet together. On your inhale, open out so that your chin is lifted and your lower back slightly curved inwards. On your exhale, close in with your chin down towards your chest and your back rounded.
This is another great exercise for back health and can help relieve back pain. It will also get you into pushing mode, and is great for practicing for the big event! If in doubt about this or any other exercise, consult your medical practitioner for advice before trying any new workout.
If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at what to do if you're [37 weeks pregnant with period pains on and off] or how to deal with your baby being fussy while nursing?
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.
We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.
Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.
We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.