How Do I Prepare My Pelvic Floor for Birth?
Knowing how to prepare your body and pelvic floor during pregnancy can help with an easier birth, faster recovery, and a smooth transition into motherhood.
ASK THE EXPERT
Kim Vopni of Pelvienne Wellness, has over a decade of helping women prepare for birth and restore their pelvic floor health.
How do I prepare my body for pregnancy?
When you are open to conceiving, it is a great time to start thinking about building a strong body for pregnancy and birth too. Some essentials are;
• Walk daily
• See a pelvic floor physiotherapist (this can even help improve conception too!)
• Do Kegels and incorporate pelvic floor exercise into your workouts
How Does Pregnancy affect my Pelvic Floor?
Being pregnant is like progressive resistance training for the pelvic floor as there is gradually more and more weight on the floor as baby grows.
• Your centre of gravity shifts as your belly grows and this can influence the pelvic floor and its ability to respond to changes in pressures (laughing, coughing, sneezing). Posture is always important but EXTRA important in pregnancy. Check out the video below on neutral pelvis.
Releasing Tension - Pelvienne Wellness
• The pelvic floor is a common location for tension and when preparing for birth you want to make sure you can reduce tension and work on creating suppleness in the pelvic floor. This is an easy to do release that can help reduce tension while also teaching you how to find softness in the presence of pressure and discomfort.
Is there a way to breathe to help with birth?
Breathing is key. When pain and discomfort are present, it can sometimes interfere with breathing and the tendency is to hold the breath which restricts oxygen to both mom and baby. Breathing deeply can help calm the mind and the may lessen the sensations of pain and discomfort. Some find panting helpful during intense contractions. Keeping the jaw soft and relaxed is important as tension in the jaw is associated with tension in the pelvic floor. Low moans or ahhhh sounds are a great strategy.
What pelvic floor exercises will prepare my body for birth?
Learning to contract, lift and release the pelvic floor incoordination with the breath is key. Inhale to expand and imagine blossoming the vulva. Exhale to engage as you contract and lift the pelvic floor.
In the last few weeks it is wise to practice keeping the vulva blossomed as you exhale because you want the pelvic floor to be soft and supple to facilitate your baby's journey into the world. Inhale to expand and blossom, then exhale while keeping the vulva blossomed.
The pelvic floor is involved in most movement so moving in a variety of ways is good for the pelvic floor. I advise women to use the principle of specificity to Prepare to Push™. Squats, tall kneeling hovers, and clams are good strengthening exercises. Butterfly and ball inner thigh stretches are good release exercises.
The Clam exercise
What are the best birthing positions for comfort and ease?
Whatever position you feel comfort and ease in, is the best position. That being said, it is wise to move and change positions. Ideally staying upright and avoiding back-lying (lithotomy) positions is best. Squatting in labour and then transitioning to supported squats while pushing is an option. Side lying positions have been shown to be most likely to preserve the perineum. All 4’s is good for all stages of labour and is a great position for a doula or partner to perform comfort measures like a hip squeeze.
Kim is on a mission to educate women while they are still pregnant (even BEFORE they are pregnant) so they are informed and can prepare with a preventive mindset and not be left saying "why didn’t anyone tell me about this before I was pregnant?”
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