You are currently viewing Can Bowling Induce Labor? The Surprising Truth Behind This Viral Theory

Can Bowling Induce Labor? The Surprising Truth Behind This Viral Theory

  • Reading time:10 mins read

If you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, you’re likely eager to get the process of labor and delivery underway. Some overdue mothers-to-be turn to natural ways to induce labor, like spicy food, acupressure, and raspberry leaf tea. One popular suggestion floating around pregnancy forums and chat rooms is taking up bowling to bring on contractions.

But is bowling really an effective way to induce labor? Let’s examine if this theory holds up and what the research says about using bowling and other forms of exercise to stimulate labor.

Why Do Some Believe Bowling Can Jumpstart Labor?

Bowling has gained traction as a way to induce labor for several reasons:

  • Low-Impact Exercise – The gentle rocking and swinging motion involved in bowling replicate some of the pelvic motions that can help encourage a baby into the birthing position. The activity also promotes blood flow to the uterus. Both of these mechanisms are thought to potentially trigger contractions.
  • Walking and Standing – Bowling requires walking back and forth to roll the ball down the lane. Plus, participants stand for extended periods while bowling. Walking and upright postures are commonly recommended in late pregnancy as optimal positioning for engaging the baby in the pelvis and allowing gravity to encourage descent.
  • Hormone Regulation – The physical activity of bowling may also encourage the release of hormones like oxytocin and prostaglandins that play key roles in the labor process. Oxytocin promotes contractions while prostaglandins help ripen and thin the cervix.
  • Anecdotal Stories – There are plenty of personal stories and testimonials floating around online forums from women who claim going bowling helped successfully induce their stalled labor. However, these are only anecdotal without scientific evidence to back them up.

Factors That Impact If Bowling Will Induce Labor

If and how effectively bowling may induce labor varies substantially based on several factors:

  • Gestational Age – Bowling is more likely to trigger labor if you are full term, at least 39 weeks pregnant. Babies are unlikely to be born if not yet ready regardless of induction efforts before full maturity.
  • Baby’s Positioning – The ideal positioning for bowling to initiate labor is a baby’s engaged head down in the pelvic cavity. If the baby is breech or transverse, bowling will not be as effective. Proper positioning allows the pressure and gravity of bowling to be transmitted.
  • Cervical Status – For labor induction techniques to work, the cervix must be ripe and ready, known as the “bishop score.” This means the cervix should be softening, thinning out, effacing, dilating, and moving forward. If the cervix is still closed and firm, bowling is less impactful.
  • History of Fast Labor – Some evidence suggests that women who have a history of precipitous labor may be more responsive to natural induction techniques. Their bodies seem primed and ready to initiate labor faster.

Risks and Precautions With Bowling for Labor Induction

While bowling can be a low-impact exercise generally considered safe in pregnancy under a doctor’s guidance, some risks and precautions include:

  • Falling or Injury – Proper bowling form should be used to avoid potential falls or accidents that could harm the mother or baby. Bowling could also aggravate pregnancy-related symphysis pubis dysfunction or other pelvic pain.
  • Dehydration – Remaining hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids is essential since bowling is an active form of exercise likely to cause sweating and thirst. Dehydration could trigger Braxton Hicks’s contractions.
  • Preterm Labor – If bowling is pursued too early before the due date, it could lead to preterm birth. Babies born more than 3 weeks preterm are at higher risk for complications. Doctors typically recommend against natural induction methods before 39 weeks.
  • Doctor Approval – You should gain approval from your OB-GYN before attempting to induce labor through bowling, especially if you have pregnancy complications like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes that make you at higher risk.

What Does the Evidence Say About Bowling to Induce Labor?

There is limited clinical research directly examining the effectiveness of bowling for labor induction. But a handful of studies provide some helpful insights:

Overview of Relevant Studies

  • A 2013 Iranian study had 100 women engage in 1-hour bowling sessions starting at 38 weeks pregnant until labor began. 93% went into labor, compared to 83% of the control group.
  • An older 1989 study looked at 27 pregnant women bowling for 30 minutes, 3 times per week in the final month of pregnancy. 78% went into labor without other induction methods.
  • Additional small studies from the 1980s-90s found more women who bowled regularly very late in pregnancy went into spontaneous labor compared to non-bowlers.
  • However, a 2018 analysis of multiple clinical trials found inconclusive evidence on bowling for induction due to poor study quality.

Analysis of Findings

Overall, the studies show a possible link between bowling late in pregnancy and increased labor onset. However, the evidence is considered weak and low-quality overall with too few patients and limitations. More rigorous, large-scale randomized control trials are needed.

Research does suggest, in general, that moderate exercise approximately 3 times per week might reduce labor induction rates to some degree. The transmission of forces from pelvic movements, the role of gravity, and hormone regulation are likely involved.

Other Natural Ways to Induce Labor Besides Bowling

If you want to avoid medical induction methods like Pitocin, bowling is not the only natural option to ripen the cervix and stimulate uterine contractions. Here are some other techniques commonly tried:

  • Sex and Orgasm – Having sex can induce labor through the release of oxytocin and prostaglandins, along with semen containing prostaglandins. Female orgasm may be especially helpful.
  • Spicy Foods – Eating heavily spiced foods like hot peppers and curry can sometimes irritate the gut and stimulate the uterus into contractions. Although not proven effective.
  • Nipple Stimulation – Gentle nipple stimulation prompts oxytocin release while stronger stimulation causes uterine contractions. Should only be done with a doctor’s approval.
  • Walking and Exercise – Light walking, using an exercise ball, and staying active can help position the baby and trigger labor hormones.
  • Acupressure – Acupressure focuses on pressure points along the ankles, feet, and lower back believed to induce contractions. No evidence confirms it works.
  • Herbal Supplements – Red raspberry leaf tea is the most popular supplement taken orally by overdue mothers to try ripening the cervix. Clinical efficacy is debated.

When to Avoid Natural Induction Methods If you have a medical condition like placenta previa or are more than 1-2 weeks past your due date, natural induction techniques could be risky. Always talk to your doctor first.

Key Takeaways: Can Bowling Help Induce Labor?

  • Evidence that bowling late in pregnancy may help induce labor is considered weak overall, though some studies suggest a link. More extensive clinical trials are needed.
  • How well bowling works depends on the baby’s position, cervical readiness, gestational age, and history of fast labor. It may be more effective for some women.
  • Bowling does promote pelvic motion and hormones that influence labor. But most evidence is anecdotal.
  • Bowling for labor induction should only be done with a doctor’s approval, especially in high-risk pregnancies. Proper precautions should be taken.
  • Other natural induction methods like walking, spicy food, nipple stimulation, and raspberry leaf tea may also provide benefits without medical interventions.

If you want to avoid medical induction, bowling could be supported by your healthcare provider as part of promoting optimal late pregnancy positioning and blood flow.

While no guarantees, some gentle games may get your labor going naturally! Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and listen to your body’s cues. As always, consult with your OB-GYN before any major change in activity or attempting natural induction techniques.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to go bowling while pregnant?

Bowling can be safe during pregnancy if done with caution. In the first trimester, avoid it due to morning sickness and fall risks. During the second trimester, use a lighter ball and proper form. Late in the third, get the doctor’s approval, stay hydrated, and avoid falls.

Which exercise can induce labor fast?

Walking, squats, pelvic tilts, and bouncing on a birth ball are thought to induce labor more quickly by encouraging optimal positioning and stimulating contractions. Always get medical clearance before exercising to induce labor.

What triggers labor to start?

The exact causes of labor starting spontaneously are not fully known. But triggers likely involve hormonal changes, fetal lung maturity, filling of the uterus, and immune system factors. Natural induction techniques aim to mimic these triggers.

Can bouncing on a ball make you go into labour?

Bouncing or doing pelvic tilts on a birthing ball can encourage the baby into the optimal position for delivery. The gentle impact may help promote contractions. But evidence is limited, and risks like falls should be avoided.

Is bowling safe during third trimester?

Generally, bowling is safe in the third trimester with doctor’s approval. Use proper form, take breaks, stay hydrated, and avoid slippery lanes. The motion can promote contractions but avoid bowling too early before full term.

What chores should you avoid while pregnant?

Avoid chores involving heavy lifting, harsh chemicals, climbing, or prolonged standing or bending in late pregnancy. Prioritize restful tasks like folding laundry, light cooking, dusting, and washing dishes while seated.

How to get this baby out tonight?

No method fully guarantees labor induction, but techniques like nipple stimulation, sex, walking, and bouncing on a yoga ball may promote contractions without medical intervention. Always ensure you are full term before attempting.

How to sleep to induce labor?

Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs and keeping your upper body slightly elevated can maximize comfort and encourage optimal positioning that may help induce labor when full term.

What exercises open the cervix?

Walking, using a birthing ball, squatting, and Kegel exercises promote gravity, pressure, and dilation that may help ripen and thin the cervix for labor. However, studies on specific exercises are limited regarding evidence.