The Truth about Walking When in Labor

How much walking can you really do when you’re at the end of your pregnancy? Find out the truth about walking in labor and right before childbirth!

I recently came across a question in a pregnancy forum about how much walking is safe when you’re in labor. This dad-to-be was trying to determine if he and his wife could hoof it to the nearby hospital (about a third of a mile, or 500 meters away) once she was in labor. He went on to say he could push her in a wheelchair but had heard she could only lie flat once her water broke. It’s such a great question, so I thought it would be good to delve into it a bit.

Is it Safe to Walk During Labor?

If you’ve delivered a baby, you know that this well-meaning (and likely nervous) dad has been sorely misinformed about what happens after your water breaks. If you’ve not delivered a baby, let me help – unless you have an epidural which numbs your body from the waist down rendering you incapable of walking, there is no reason to lie flat once your water breaks. And if you’re not yet at the hospital, you won’t have an epidural, so if you feel like walking, have at it.

Regarding the safety of walking once in labor, the answer is yes, it is safe to walk a third of a mile once contractions have started. The truth? You just plain might not want to… or you won’t mind. Confusing, right?

Each woman’s labor is a little different. Some labors extend for days, whereas other women go from slow, easy contractions to “holy cow, we’re having a baby RIGHT NOW” in an hour. One of my close friends delivered her second baby on the side of the road on the way to the hospital (thankfully, an ambulance got there in time, so her husband wasn’t delivering the baby himself).

Walking is a very effective means of moving along the labor process, but that doesn’t mean it’s comfortable. Plenty of laboring women over the years have roamed the halls of the labor & delivery unit, letting gravity do its job to get the baby into the birth canal and help speed along labor. But for most women, when in the throes of a contraction, the walking needs to stop until the contraction subsides. For other women, contractions are no big deal (I was NOT that woman). Another friend’s sister-in-law was happily playing cards with her older child while in active labor, and she experienced very little discomfort until it was time to push.

If there is one certainty about delivering a baby, it is that nothing in certain. So, to this well-meaning dad who is trying to plan ahead regarding the best route to the hospital, go ahead and plan for a walk, but be prepared that calling a cab may be necessary. Because until labor starts, there is just no way of knowing what is going to happen. That baby is going to come out on his own terms, and being flexible is the best way to prepare!

Do you have experience walking while in labor? Please share with us!

16 thoughts on “The Truth about Walking When in Labor”

  1. I must admit…I was very lazy during my pregnancy due to my 6 months nausea and loss of energy. I did get dehydrated as well. I should have pushed myself to walking more. Thanks for the great post, will share with my niece who is now pregnant.

  2. I did a lot of walking while in labor, it helped somewhat. However, as you mentioned, each woman is different. But definitely give it a try!

  3. I have no experience walking with labor as I was induced. When it comes to things like this I would only go by what a doctor recommended.

  4. I remember with my first labor I walked around a lot. With the other two, I was just in no mood to do any kind of walking. It definitely depends on the type of feelings you are having.

  5. Dhemz Apdian - Dias

    Wow, very interesting topic. I’m expecting and will be having a baby next month. That’s true. Each woman’s labor is different. I do remember after I had our first child, the day after I gave birth the doctor told me to start walking.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. This post might be helpful for new expectant parents. My first labor went very quickly that I don’t have time to walk except to the car heading to the hospital. Agree that being flexible is key.

  7. That was an interesting question. I would not have known the answer. Thanks for taking the time to do the research and find an answer.

  8. Ohh, your post is very nice. This is so helpful for those who are first time mommies! I think walking is really a good advise. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  9. Very helpful for newbies. My husband was pretty nervous when I delivered, and I am sure he would have believed a lot of stuff that wasn’t true. My labor went so quickly I didn’t have time to walk around, but a lot of women find it helpful to walk to move things along.

  10. Faith Elijahleen Stephenson

    I walked a lot since 7months but I didnt get any labor sign! i am overdue already but have no sign of labor so me and my hubby decided to get a C-Section. My OB ofcourse, rejecting my request until I told her that i have an instinct that my baby will poop inside my womb. Then I am not wrong, after the operation my baby really pooped. lol.

  11. Love this and divine timing! This is actually something I was wondering as I am just newly pregnant (too early to ask family and friends about this) but this is a great post! Thank you!

  12. my grandmother used to make me walk every day when my mom sent me to live with her when i was pregnant *eye roll* helped keep the weight off, i’ll give it that much xD

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