Top Movements to prepare your body for labour and birth
As you approach the last few weeks of your pregnancy it is a good idea to start focusing on some specific movements and positions that will help to optimise your baby’s positioning for labour. If you are not already aware, it is the baby’s head pressing/pushing down against the cervix that helps to facilitate the labour process and allows the cervix to soften and thin out. This usually doesn’t occur until after 39 weeks of gestation. So one of the best ways to help labour along is to ensure that the baby is head down in the pelvis and there are things that you can do to help this process that we will discuss below.
Is your baby in a Breech position?
20% of babies will be breech at 28 weeks but only 3-4% at term (40 weeks gestation). So if your baby is in a breech position there is a good chance that they will turn by themselves.
We are often asked in our classes what is the best exercise to turn baby and unfortunately there is no evidence for any specific exercises being the most effective – often it can be in the hands of the gods! However, we do refer women to the resource spinning babies https://www.spinningbabies.com/ which shows some nice positioning techniques that can be worth trying.
Why get moving during labour?
Evidence shows that women who use upright positions and are mobile during labour can have shorter labours, receive less intervention, report less severe pain, and describe more satisfaction with their childbirth experience than women in recumbent positions (Ondeck 2014).
While the evidence is lacking in the exact movements that are best for positioning, these following movements/exercises and positions are well worth trying and are very comfortable positions to carry out during labour.
Top movements that can help baby positioning?
As mentioned from 37 weeks it is recommended to be more active & upright to optimise baby’s position in the pelvis. The exercises we recommend include:
- Exercising with a Gym ball –upright/ forward lean/ legs open – movements like
- Pelvic rolls – sitting on ball and rotate the pelvis around in a circular motion leading with the tailbone, untuck tailbone as you rotate backwards and tuck tailbone under as you come forwards. Continue this movement for 5 –10 times and then change the direction of the movement.
- Pelvic tilts – Can be carried out sitting on ball or on all 4s (as per image), Inhale release bump and untuck the tailbone and as you exhale tuck the tailbone under rounding your back and hug the bump into your back. Repeat this movement 5-10 times.
- Kneeling with ball forward back rocking – In kneeling – lean arms though the ball, open knees wide and bring heels together and rock your bum back to your heels and then lean forward through the ball. Repetitive movements help to relax the body and open the space in the pelvis.
Top Tips for Labour
Here are some of the Top tips we recommend for our women and why we recommend them for labour.
Partner hip squeezes:
If your partner would like to get involved then the Partner hip squeezes is a lovely option for them. You can be standing leaning against the wall/the bed or on all 4s and your partner places their hands on both sides of the pelvis and presses inwards on the top of the pelvis. This can help to reduce pressure here and be helpful for pain relief during contractions and also in the later stages of pregnancy. Get them practicing!
During labour our sacrums needs to move and open to allow baby to travel downwards in the pelvis. If you are lying on your back or high sitting on the bed then this negates the ability of the sacrum to be free to move. So birthing positions like kneeling/standing/all 4s/side lying will help to facilitate this and allow labour to progress more easily.
What if you have had an epidural, do you need to stay on your back?
If you have an epidural, unless there is a medical reason that you need to stay on your back for then you can use the Peanut ball in side lying for delivery (see image). This allows your sacrum to be flexible.
For more information on the Bump Room and the services they offer please visit their website here