When you're in the early stages of labor (or hoping to be soon), there's one thing everyone tells you to do: walk. (They might also say castor oil, but ignore them.) The problem is, sometimes walking is hard when you're nine months pregnant and also, it can be kind of boring. But taking your dog on a walk to speed up labor sounds like the best of both worlds. You get to (hopefully) entice your baby to enter the outside world, and your pup gets some exercise. But is it safe?
The good thing is, walking actually could help you out with labor. Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, OB-GYN, author of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pregnancy (But Were Too Afraid or Embarrassed To Ask) and one half of the Twin Doctors for TwinDoctorsTV, tells Romper in an email interview that labor is all about dilating and thinning out your cervix. So while your uterus is doing the hard work of contracting so your baby's head pushes onto the cervix, walking can increase the pressure. “When you are up and mobile, gravity puts a little more pressure on the cervix — this increased pressure can speed the labor process.”
But as far as walking your dog, Abdur-Rahman says, “Taking your dog for a walk isn't a bad idea when it comes to speeding up labor. When labor has truly begun, being ambulatory will give you a little boost. Just know your dog because wrestling with a feisty or rambunctious dog is the last thing you will want to do while you are having contractions.”
Abdur-Rahman also recommends walking no more than a block or two from home, and making sure you have another able-bodied adult with you. "Sometimes the rubber can hit the road quickly and you will want to be close to home when it does.” Maybe go for a walk with your pup and have someone else handle the leash for you, too.
Dr. Mia Di Julio, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, says you should consider all the factors before you take your pup out. “If there's a chance that you could fall or be hit in anyway, this activity would not be advisable while pregnant." But she does say that if you're having to use some strength to hold your dog, that's generally OK. You'll just, again, want a partner so that if labor does progress, someone is there to help you and your dog.
However, don’t worry about suddenly having to go to the hospital because walking sped up your labor so much. Dr. Jamie Lipeles, an OB-GYN and founder of Marina OB-GYN in Marina Del Rey, California, says, “Having to ‘all of the sudden get to the hospital’ is pretty rare. There is almost always a fair warning that labor is beginning. Usually, contractions will start mild and irregular (but more frequently), and as time passes, the contractions will get stronger and occur at a more regular intervals … and eventually they’ll get a lot stronger. This process will usually take hours.” But if you've had fast labor in the past, you'll want to keep that in mind before heading too far away from home, just in case, he adds.
Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, OB-GYN, author of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pregnancy (But Were Too Afraid or Embarrassed To Ask) and one half of the Twin Doctors for TwinDoctorsTV.
Dr. Mia Di Julio, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Dr. Jamie Lipeles, an OB-GYN and founder of Marina OB-GYN in Marina Del Rey, California.