Optimal birth position – does that even exist?
As a birth doula and yoga instructor, I obviously understand the importance of movement, strengthening & stretching during birth, but Gail Tully, a midwife with over 30 years experience who developed Spinning Babies, takes it a bit further. She focuses on 3 principles; balance, gravity and movement. Each of these principles she says are essential to “enhancing baby’s starting position for labor.”
When you think about babies in utero, they are trying to find a comfortable position working around the shape of the mother’s organs, muscles and ligaments. During birth, it’s baby’s job to move and rotate through the pelvis and its Mom’s job to provide the space for baby to do so.
So, what can Mom do to create the balance, gravity & movement necessary to get baby into a good position? Practice these 3 poses every day. It’ll only take about 10 minutes – you can fit it in somewhere!
“Sifting the entire abdomen can relax tight ligaments and may help a baby rotate in pregnancy or labor more easily (Spinning Babies. Maternity House Publishing Inc., 2016, Web. 4 Feb. 2016.).” And it feels amazingly relaxing for Mom.
Using a large shawl or sheet, cover your entire belly and have your partner grab it behind you. Lower onto your hands & knees, resting your arms on the couch or an exercise ball. Have your partner stand up behind you, with the sheet in both hands, fingers facing forward. Have your partner lift the weight of your belly up and begin to slowly make baby circles with his hands (picture a choo-choo train) – tiny tiny circles. This should feel like a comfortable vibration for you. Be sure to communicate how it feels. Do for as long as your partner can stand it (they’ll finally appreciate how much weight you carry around every day).
2.Forward leaning inversion
The forward leaning inversion “stretches and potentially, untwists support ligaments to the lower uterine segment and cervix, such as the uterosacral and cervical ligaments. Repeating this stretch can release any asymmetry and allow baby’s head to fit more easily (Spinning Babies. Maternity House Publishing Inc., 2016, Web. 4 Feb. 2016.).”
Sit on the couch on your shins. Slowly lower your hands to the floor and then come onto your forearms, your head should be freely hanging, hips high. Stay here for 3 deep breaths and then slowly make your way back up to where you started. Sit back on your shins for 3 breaths.
This is not recommended if you are at risk of a stroke, have glaucoma, hypertension or heartburn.
The side-lying release “relaxes and lengthens muscles supporting the pelvis (Spinning Babies. Maternity House Publishing Inc., 2016, Web. 4 Feb. 2016.).”
Lay on the edge of your bed with a pillow under your head (make sure you scoot all the way to the edge). Be sure to stack your shoulders and your hips, legs are long, feet flexed. Have your partner support you at your hip. Lift your top leg on an angle and let it drop towards the floor (be sure your leg is hanging). Your partner should be pressing your hip back slightly to keep you from falling off the bed but be sure your shoulders and hips stay stacked. Stay here for 3-5 minutes. Switch sides.
In addition, walking, stretching, squats and lunges are all great exercises to keep the body loose and supple – ready for whatever birth will bring!