You’re past 37 weeks pregnant and feeling ready to burst at the seams – literally! You’re ready to meet your little one and you’ve heard that squatting may help induce labor. But is it true?
As a woman approaches the end of her pregnancy, she may start to get antsy and may want to help baby move along faster. Squatting has been commonly mentioned as one popular way to induce labor naturally.
But is there any truth behind the idea?
Before we disclose the answer, it must first be mentioned that women should not attempt to induce labor too early. According to Jeffrey L. Ecker, MD of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, babies are best brought into the world after the 39th week.
“Each week of gestation up to 39 weeks is important for a fetus to fully develop before delivery and have a healthy start,” he says.
Babies born between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days gestation have the best health outcomes, compared with babies born before or after this period. A baby may not be ready before this and may need more time to develop.
What The Experts Say
So when baby is ready to make her debut, will squatting help induce labor?
The answer is yes!
Leading up to delivery, squatting helps put gravity on your baby by pushing her downward toward the birth canal, helping to get things moving along.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, there is some benefit to squatting before and during labor. Squatting during labor can open up a woman’s pelvic outlet up to 10 percent while helping create more room for a baby to move down into the birth canal.
Other benefits of doing squats to induce labor include strengthening leg muscles, which will prove useful during the birthing process, and helping to reduce labor time by 11 minutes (if squatting when pushing during labor).
The Right Way To Squat
When trying squatting to speed things along, you can squat for five minutes at a time, several times per day.
There is a correct way to squat, however. Follow these steps to ensure you don’t hurt yourself during the process.
- Keep your feet at shoulder length apart and stand up straight.
- Pretend there is an imaginary chair behind you, and lower your body as if you are going to sit on it, making sure your knees are not in front of your feet. Hold the squat for 10 to 30 seconds. If you are tired, feel free to rest your hands on your knees.
- Slowly stand up straight and repeat.
- Don’t overdo it! Always make sure you have someone there with you in case you need help (especially at this late stage of your pregnancy!)
Other Natural Ways To Induce Labor
Practice the Pelvic Tilt
This exercise will help prepare your pelvic muscles for labor. Lie on your back and keep your knees bent, with your feet on the floor. Flatten your back against the floor and, at the same time, bend your pelvis upwards.
Hold your pelvis in place for 10 seconds before slowly releasing back down to the ground. You can do reps twice a day for 10 minutes at a time.
Take a Walk – by Yourself or with Loved Ones
Walk, walk and walk some more! Aside from being a good excuse to get some fresh air or take a romantic stroll holding hands, walking is a low-impact exercise that can help your baby engage in the pelvis.
Get Out the Exercise Ball
You can do several exercises on an exercise ball to help encourage baby to move along. Sit down on a yoga ball and gently roll your pelvis in circles. This movement will help relax your hip muscles and lower back. You can also gently bounce on the ball to help push baby toward the birth canal.
Lunges can help widen your hips and rotate your baby. They also can encourage baby to drop down as well. To do a perfect lunge, stand with your feet a shoulder width apart, step forward and bend your knee.
Make sure your shoulders and back stay straight as you do so. Repeat. Just make sure you hold onto your significant other, a friend or a piece of furniture so you don’t fall down and hurt yourself.
Drink a Cup of Raspberry Leaf Tea
The week before I had my daughter, I began drinking this tea. Red raspberry leaf tea has been said to help kick-start labor if taken in higher doses around a due date. I suspect that the tea, combined with the fantastic dance that I mention below, definitely helped!
Try a Labor Dance
While it may seem silly, many moms, including myself, swear by a variation of this labor inducing dance. One evening four days after my due date, I decided to give it a try. I stood in my living room rubbing my belly and did a wide-legged squat dance.
My water broke very early the next morning!