Walking is a well known technique for helping laboring women and their babies progress towards the birth. Not only can it serve as a nice distraction but it actually helps contractions come closer together and it moves the baby down deeper into the pelvis.
When a laboring mother walks it rocks her pelvis back and forth causing the baby’s head to rub against the cervix. This rubbing causes the release of the hormone oxytocin, which increases the number and intensity of the contractions, thus bringing mother and baby closer to birth.
I have had many births where my contractions would be 20 minutes apart when I wasn’t walking and then pick up to 8 minutes apart when I was. After two days of prodomal labor a mother can get pretty desperate. Guess what I would be doing at all times of the day and sometimes even into the night. That’s right. I’d walk, walk, walk. This worried my midwife a little as it can really tire you out but so can being in constant labor having contractions every 20 minutes.
An advantage to walking is the time you get to spend with your family. With my last labor I was able to walk with many of my children throughout the day. They would take turns helping mom work her baby down. This not only helped them feel like they were helping me and but it also gave them a little life lesson of what moms go through for their little babes, including for them. They see mom swaying to her contractions and they want to hold onto her to help her sway, a sort of doula-in-training. Even my 13 year old son would walk with me. I actually think he may have walked with me the most. It was a very sweet bunch of moments for the two of us.
When walking try to stay close to home or at least to a car. Remember, you are bringing your contractions closer together. The last thing you want to do is have your baby on the side of the road because you can’t get to your car or home in time!!
If you’re having a hard time keeping your contractions close together and consistent, walking while using an electric breast pump (Medela has a good one) may be an option. This strategy really dumps the oxytocin into your system, and fast. You need to talk to your midwife/doctor before doing this though. Not only will this seriously bring on the contractions but it has the potential of making your nipples pretty sore. This isn’t a nice side effect for those planning to nurse.
Just remember, enjoy yourself and your time walking with your family. Get out and breathe the fresh air for your baby! Your body and your baby need the fresh clean air and you need the time with your husband. Get to know each other a little better. Talk about your new baby, what will she look like? Will her eyes be brown like Dads or green like Moms? Have fun and relax!