Perhaps you’ve found yourself on this blog because you’re currently pregnant or planning to get pregnant in the near future.
Do you want to have a vaginal birth? Do you also want to minimize interventions used during labour?
While we know birth is the “great unknown”, we can still take steps to ensure that the pelvic floor is ready for a vaginal birth.
While it is important to have a strong pelvic floor to hold your organs and the weight of a growing baby, it is also just as important to be able to relax the pelvic floor for the baby to come through the birth canal with ease.
1. The first thing to prepare your pelvic floor for labour is to do exercises that promote pelvic floor relaxation during your pregnancy.
Diaphragm breathing- The diaphragm is the roof of the core, and the pelvic floor is the base. This roof and floor share a similar dome shape anatomy, and they work synchrony. When we breathe in, the diaphragm descends downwards into the abdominal cavity. Simultaneously, the pelvic floor descends and lengthens, allowing it to relax. When you breathe out, the pelvic floor moves back into its resting position. Diaphragm breathing is great because it can be done in any position- on your back in bed, sitting in the car, or on a zoom call - meaning you can work on relaxing your pelvic floor anywhere you go.
Another great exercise to achieve pelvic floor relaxation is the straddle stretch. For this exercise, you sit when your legs are out, with your hips mildly internally rotated. This internal rotation helps lengthen the muscles on the outside of your hips and creates an opening for the sit bones. As you hold this position, the pelvic floor is lengthened.
2. The second thing to prepare your pelvic floor for labour is to avoid postures that can create restrictions in the pelvic bones. The pelvic floor muscles are a 'sling' of muscles, almost like a hammock, that runs between the pubic bone in the front and the tailbone at the back. When there is a rotation through the pelvis or restriction in any of the three pelvic joints (the two sacroiliac joints and the pubic symphysis), the hammock gets pulled in all different directions, which means it cannot fully relax.
In order to minimize pelvic joint restrictions, there are some things you can avoid:
Crossing your legs- Crossing your legs can create rotation in the pelvis and allows for an uneven force distribution through the sacroiliac joints
Carrying a child on your hip- While your child loves to be held, this creates an unevenness through the pelvis as one hip is higher and also creates restrictions in through the rib cage. So if you have to lift your little one up, be sure to pop them on the front (only if this is comfortable of course)
Sleeping with a pillow between your knees only- You might be thinking, isn’t it good to put a pillow between the knees? Well yes, but you need to make sure that your ankles are also supported so that the pelvis isn't imbalanced.
Sitting for too long- in 2022, we are all guilty of it. Get up and move, mamma, get some movement into those joints. Lean up against a chair and get some movement through that pelvis.
3. And the third thing you can do to prepare your pelvic floor for pregnancy is to get your pelvis assessed by a chiropractor. Because even if you’re doing all the right exercises and avoiding all the bad postures, there may still be restrictions present from prior injuries or years of poor postural habits. Our chiropractors at Balanced for Life are trained to assess the pelvic joints and ligaments in pregnant patients. If we find restrictions, we will make precise, gentle and safe adjustments to restore proper movement and alignment to help prepare your pelvic floor for labour.