Many suspicions on the effect of walking during one's first stage of labor have been made but little has been done to study its scientific effects on pregnancy. A study was done at a Texas hospital monitoring the walking habits of approximately 1000 women in labor during 1996 and 1997. Doctors were hoping to find that walking during labor could reduce patient discomfort or improve labor outcomes.
The studied women were divided into two separate groups. The "normal care" group was constricted to their bed through their entire labor, while the walking group was encouraged to walk around as they saw fit. Minutes and number of steps were recorded for each patient. The walking group measured a walking average of 56 minutes and 553 steps. The normal group averaged 30 steps (mostly accounted in bathroom trips). 22 percent of the walking group chose not to walk at all.
The study showed that walking on labor had no effect (positive or negative) on labor and delivery.
No activity suggested harm to the fetus in either condition. The study concluded with suggesting, "a woman 'should not be compelled to take to her bed unless she feels so inclined.'"
I chose this article because my cousin is swiftly approaching her due date and many myths about labor prevail around us. Considering the test was inexpensive and the results basically suggested that a woman should choose what is best for her situation, I think any kind of study (regardless how petty) can benefit in some way. Personally, I can not keep still for more than five minutes in class, so knowing I could not harm my child if I walked around my room anxiously during labor will help me to not be so overwhelmed.
Source: Bloom, Steven L. M.D. et al. "Lack of Effect...