Modern life is having a dangerous impact on labour and childbirth. Its important to learn why so you can avoid complications for you and your baby.
Our time spent commuting, sitting at desks, slouching on sofas, coupled with lack of exercise can create a tight space in the pelvis for your baby.
These causes of tightness are contributing to the rise in assisted deliveries of babies who become stuck. You may have heard of “back to back”, “breech” “transverse”, or variations thereof. When a baby struggles to get into the optimal foetal position for delivery it can be traumatic for parents and baby, often ending in emergency measures to help safely deliver the baby.
The ‘occiput anterior’ position is ideal for birth – it means that the baby is lined up so as to fit through your pelvis as easily as possible. The baby is head down, facing your back, with his back on one side of the front of your tummy. In this position, the baby’s head is easily ‘flexed’, ie his chin tucked onto his chest, so that the smallest part of his head will be applied to the cervix first. The diameter of his head which has to fit through the pelvis is approximately 9.5 cm, and the circumference approximately 27.5cm. The position is usually ‘Left Occiput Anterior’ or LOA – occasionally the baby may be Right Occiput Anterior or ROA.
So, what can we do to undo all this tightness and help baby to have enough space to find the optimal foetal position?
1. Sit and Stir
If you’ve wondered what to do with your Birth ball, first make sure your ball is firmly inflated with an electric pump (soft balls can burst, so be safe).
Spend as often as you can sitting and stirring on your Birth ball. Slow circular movements of your bottom, with your feet wider than your hips and flat on the floor, are perfect for helping to stretch and release tightness in the pelvic floor.
This is a better option to sit and watch tv or work at the computer as it prevents you from slouching back onto your coccyx and sacroiliac joint, causing gravity to pull your baby away from the optimal position.
Sitting on your ball allows the pelvis to tilt forward so that you are sitting right on your sit bones, and widening the space around your baby, taking pressure off the nerves in your back. This means that your baby can more easily rotate into a good position and nestle down nicely close to the cervix.
2. Deep Squats
If you are not very strong, I recommend you find a sturdy chair or railing which is firmly fixed to hold onto.
Deep squats are a wonderful way to make space for your baby, and to help to deeply release pelvic floor to stretch well.
Using long deep breaths to help your pelvic floor respond to the position, work slowly into the squat, stay deeply down for a full breath in and out, then come out of the squat and repeat as many times as you can manage while feeling fresh.
3. Kneel and Sway
Spending time kneeling and leaning forward is essential for helping to relax your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
Aswell as being a great position to labour in when tired, during pregnancy this position helps to encourage baby to rotate and nestle down into the correct position with the smallest part of the their head resting on your cervix.
You can rest your head and arms on the ball and sway the ball from side to side. Take in deep slow breaths with each sway to help relax the muscles.
4. Sleep on your left
Try to get into this habit early on in pregnancy. Sleeping on your left really does make a huge difference to helping your baby snuggle into the right place. Remember, if you can help your baby get into the right position, your delivery will be so much easier with chances of medical intervention greatly reduced.
Left sleeping also encourages optimal blood flow from you to your baby.
If you struggle to get comfortable in this position, use pillows and cushions to help wedge you into place.
If you wake up having rolled onto your back or other side, don’t panic, just roll back to your left and start again.
Do your best to include all four steps into your day so you know you’ve done as much as you can to help your baby have a smoother journey out.
Remember, if it doesn’t quite go to plan, you have done your best, and that’s all you can do.
Good luck, mums!
Any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments…
About the blogger:
Marie Behenna is the author of The FitMama Method, published by Souvenir Press 2012 and creator of the ChillMAMA Pregnancy Meditation
Marie teaches exercise and nutrition to pregnant and post partum mothers in North Hampshire, United Kingdom. www.fitmamastudio.com