Labor should never be induced at 39 weeks unless under a doctor's guidance. The baby needs, and should be given if at all possible, 40 weeks in the womb to fully develop the heart and lungs. However, there is nothing wrong with beginning gentle exercise at 39 weeks to strengthen the body for labour and have a more successful birth. When your body is ready, exercise can stimulate contractions and support a faster, safer delivery.
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Things you need
- Fitness ball
Take walks. Walking is an excellent exercise to prepare the body for labour. The rocking motion encourages your baby to move into the delivery position and strengthens your abdomen. Walking also promotes regular and effective contractions.
Sit on an exercise ball and bounce. The gentle motion encourages relaxation of the pelvic muscles and opens the body to delivery.
Position a fitness ball against the wall and brace yourself against it. The ball should be at your lower back. Lower yourself into a squat, the come back to a standing position. Aim for a ninety-degree angle but don't force yourself to go lower than you can.
Climb stairs. The uneven motion aids the baby in getting into position for birth and strengthens your body in preparation for the work ahead.
Practice Kegel exercises. Squeeze the floor of your pelvic muscles in the same way you would if trying to stop a flow of urine. Repeat ten times. Kegels strengthen your pelvic floor and promote elasticity of the perineum.
Make love. The uterus contracts during orgasm, which promotes labour, and semen contains prostaglandins, a chemical that also causes contractions.
Tips and warnings
- Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise routine. Exercise isn't recommended for all pregnancies.
- Do what's best for your baby. Strengthen your body, but don't induce labour until it's time.
- Do not practice nipple stimulation to induce labour unless your doctor has approved it. Nipple stimulation has been proven to create long, intense contractions that prevent uterine rest.
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