I Tried Walking to Induce Labor, & Now I Regret It Immensely
Toward the end of the third trimester, it's pretty common for women to want their pregnancies to be over and for the baby to arrive. This was 100% the case for me. I couldn’t wait for my pregnancy to be over — not just because I was excited for my son to be here, but because I was so uncomfortable the whole time. I was throwing up almost every day, I had heartburn that would make one of the Khaleesi’s dragons roil with envy, and my stomach was starting to look like a balloon that was getting too much air.
I was maxing out on both belly space and patience, especially because my OB had told me earlier that my due date might be a week earlier than I'd expected. When that date came and went, I became absolutely desperate to try and induce labor myself. I took to Google to try and get labor going, and one of the first things I read was that walking can help to induce labor. I will admit, however, that that wasn't the first thing I tried: the first thing I did was jiggle around a bit while stimulating my nipples, because Google said that nipple stimulation can release oxytocin, which can help induce labor. But that made me feel and look a bit ridiculous, and did nothing more than get the baby kicking.
So I decided to go on a long walk to try and induce labor, which ultimately I regret.
I was relatively active throughout my pregnancy. I walked my dog almost every single day, though these walks weren't too strenuous; usually, it was just a mile or two in flat terrain. During the latter half of my pregnancy, I became significantly less active, in part due to the physical constraints of my increasingly pregnant body.
Yet when I was getting to the point of being completely sick of being pregnant, I decided I’d had enough. I was going to walk that baby out, come hell or high water. So a few days after the earlier due date that my OB had predicted, I decided to walk four miles. Not four flat miles, either. Four hilly, windy, miles.
Was it a good idea? I thought so at the time. Yet I didn’t consider the fact that the 60-plus pounds I was now carrying, plus the weight of the fully cooked human in my belly, might make this walk a bit difficult. I was hell-bent on inducing labor, so I decided I just couldn’t wait.
"Yes! I did it," I thought. "I was starting to have contractions and likely going into labor! Finally, I'm gonna get this baby out of me!" Then I realized: Oh, s**t, I was having contractions, and I was two miles away from home without a cell phone.
When I got to mile two of the walk, I was not only drenched in sweat and convinced that I had peed my pants, but I was starting to feel the contractions. At first, I was excited. "Yes! I did it," I thought. "I was starting to have contractions and likely going into labor! Finally, I'm gonna get this baby out of me!" Then I realized: Oh, s**t, I was having contractions, and I was two miles away from home without a cell phone. I was gonna get this baby out of me — but I might be in a considerable amount of pain in the interim.
I figured the worst case scenario was that I could knock on someone’s door and have them call the hospital. I live in a small town, and I figured I would know whoever's door I knocked on. So I continued on my walk, determined to make it home and get back to the hospital, while the pain grew and got more and more intense. I had had Braxton Hicks contractions before, or intermittent uterine contractions, but the pain of these contractions were far more intense.
This was it, I thought, I had done it. I was in labor!
"Wasn’t I supposed to have breaks in between contractions?," I thought to myself. "This feels like straight-up full belly cramps."
After an uphill climb back to my house, I rested a bit. I was still feeling that immense pain, but the contractions started to take on a rhythm: instead of consistent pain, I felt cramps that came and went every few minutes.
My contractions were still relatively far apart clocking in at around 6 minutes between each one. So my ex, who was in town at the time, suggested we go out to lunch to wait them out. When it got to the point where I was in so much pain that I couldn’t eat or breathe anymore, we decided to go to the hospital. This was it, I thought, I had done it. I was in labor!
A few hours later, the nurse at the hospital told me that I had hardly gotten to two centimeters. It looked like my contractions had slowed down, and that they were beginning to stop. She gave me a muscle relaxant, politely scolded me for doing such intense exercise without anyone else there, and sent me on my way. I waited until my original due date, then a few days later my OB induced me, as my son was weighing in at 9 pounds already.
Ultimately, I regret my decision to try and walk to induce labor. Not only did it not work, but I had also caused myself a great deal of pain and put myself in a precarious situation. What if I had gone into labor right then and there? What if walking put stress on myself of the baby and compromised us medically? My impatience and discomfort outweighed my ability to think clearly and safely about the situation at hand, and even though it all turned out OK, I wish I hadn't taken that risk.