As you inch closer to 40 weeks of pregnancy, chances are you’ll try just about anything to just get this baby to come out already! You’ve nested, prepped the nursery, packed the hospital bag—maybe even watched your due date come and go—and yet, you’re still pregnant. Aside from special labor-friendly yoga poses and consuming castor oil (*shudder*), there’s one method that many women swear by to naturally induce labor: curb walking!

Curb walking is exactly what it sounds like—finding an empty street and walking on the curb. Unlike regular, both-feet-evenly-paced-on-the-ground walking, curb walking involves one foot taking steps on the ground and the other walking at an elevated angle on the curb. Then turn around, and repeat on the other side. This slightly awkward—and definitely uncomfortable—activity is thought to help open your pelvis and encourage your baby’s head to descend down the birthing canal to kickstart labor naturally. 

Moms-to-be love praising this relatively simple method to go into labor. The only problem is, experts are divided on if it actually works or not. 

Pregnancy wellness class

Motherly spoke with an OB-GYN and a midwife to learn more about this popular natural induction method—and find out exactly how to try it in the safest way possible.

Related: A nutritionist’s guide to the best foods for pregnancy, from the early days to the third trimester

Technically, there is no science to back up curb walking to induce labor

If you are looking for scientific evidence in support of curb walking to induce labor, then you’re out of luck. There isn’t any published research showing that curb walking can help. 

“Like other natural ways to try to induce labor, curb walking won’t make someone go into labor,” Sara Twogood, MD, an OB-GYN at Cedars-Sinai Medical Group and Flo Medical Expert, tells Motherly

However, there is research that shows walking can help with labor and delivery. A 2021 study of 102 pregnant women who walked for 40 minutes, four times a week, from 34 weeks gestation, were more likely to have a spontaneous onset of labor and were less likely to need an induction, C-section, or instrumental delivery. That’s reason enough to lace up your tennis shoes and get moving!

Related: Try these 4 yoga poses to induce labor—safely

Curb walking can help get your body ready for baby

Dr. Twogood says curb walking “can help prepare the body for labor.” “If someone is on the precipice of labor, the repositioning of the baby may help stimulate some of the hormones to kick in,” she says. 

Sunny Soroosh, CNM, WHNP-BC, MPH, a midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner based in New York City, agrees that curb walking in itself doesn’t induce labor—”but it can help move things along and get your body ready for labor!” she shares.

Related: The body in labor: What does 10cm dilated look like?

Soroosh explains how curb walking can help “create space in your pelvis for your baby’s head to descend.” Once baby’s head is in position, your body could react. “This could lead to cervical change [also known as cervical ripening], which includes cervical dilation [opening of the cervix] and effacement [softening and thinning of the cervix],” Soroosh explains. “It can even help contractions become more regular if you are already starting to have them.” 

But you don’t have to do curb walking, per se. Even lunges could help. “Doing lunges can have a similar type of effect,” she continues. “Baby’s position, amount of amniotic fluid, mom and baby’s alignment and emotions can all have a role when labor will begin.” 

In other words, baby will come when baby comes—but there’s nothing wrong with trying to (gently) nudge them into position.

Take safety measures

Curious about curb walking? With a few safety precautions you can try it for yourself. Our experts recommend you first secure their doctor’s permission to try curb walking (or any other natural labor induction technique) before you start.

As for when to start curb walking? Note that it’s not safe to begin curb walking until you are at least 37 weeks’ gestation. “We’re not trying to induce labor that early but some of these birth prep techniques can be safely started around then,” Dr. Twogood explains. 

Does curb walking induce labor? Remember, curb walking may help to “optimize preparation for labor” rather than actually induce labor.  

Related: 22 products that got us through the final weeks of pregnancy

How to try curb walking to induce labor

Once you have the all-clear, check out these safety tips:

  • Find somewhere quiet: “Avoid busy or uneven streets,” Dr. Twogood says, recommending instead a calm (read: no cars), flat street with a sidewalk.
  • Take it slow: “Walk slowly at first to get the hang of it,” Dr. Twogood says. “Holding someone’s hand may help.”
  • Focus on balance: Keep in mind that your balance may be off. “Pregnant people tend to be more clumsy and it can be hard to see the ground so far into pregnancy—please remember and consider this!” reminds Dr. Twogood.
  • Mix curb walking with regular walking: Soroosh recommends limiting your curb walking session to a maximum of 10 minutes; however, “you can walk regularly for an extra 10 to 20 minutes depending on how you feel—staying active is recommended.”
  • Don’t overdo it: “You don’t want to be tired when starting labor,” Soroosh says.

And it goes without saying, but if curb walking hurts or is uncomfortable, you should discontinue it immediately.

Other natural labor induction techniques to try

On days it feels like you’ve been pregnant for 800 years, you may want to do more than just curb walking to help labor begin. 

Soroosh suggests a number of ways to do this, with your health provider’s approval: “Sex, nipple stimulation, red raspberry leaf tea and eating dates can help the cervix ripen, contractions come on, and get your body ready for labor,” she explains. “Walking stairwells, acupuncture and chiropractic adjustment can also help align the baby in the mother’s pelvis.”

Related: 10 tried-and-true ways to induce labor naturally

She says that there isn’t much research to back eating pineapple, spicy foods or special salad dressing, but you could always try it if you want. “And if anything feels uncomfortable, painful or just not right for you, stop immediately!” she adds.

At the end of the day, the best thing you can do right now in Soroosh’s opinion is “enjoy this time.” Read that again—and this time, try to do it. I know it’s hard to just enjoy the end of the pregnancy, but it can provide such a special bonding opportunity for you and a partner, you and your other kids, or just you by yourself before you become a mom. It truly is a special season of life.

“Remember, none of these methods are guaranteed to work, and the best way to help labor start is to avoid anxiety and relax—things always happen when and how they are supposed to. Have faith in the journey!” Soroosh says. Always sound advice.

Bottom line: labor will start when your body is ready. But if you want to try curb walking and can do it safely—go for it.

Featured experts

Sunny Soroosh, CNM, WHNP-BC, MPH, is a midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner based in New York City. 

Sara Twogood, MD, is an OB-GYN at Cedars-Sinai Medical Group and Flo Medical Expert.

Shojaei B, Loripoor M, Sheikhfathollahi M, Aminzadeh F. The effect of walking during late pregnancy on the outcomes of labor and delivery: A randomized clinical trial. J Educ Health Promot. 2021 Jul 30;10:277. doi:10.4103/jehp.jehp_1437_20

A version of this story was originally published on March 6, 2023. It has been updated.