How to Prepare to Give Birth from a Women’s Health PT
If you’re pregnant or thinking about having a baby someday, you may search the internet for “how to push out a baby”. Whether you’re preparing for your first or fifth child, or planning for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), the internet may tell you to kegel at every stoplight or hold a kegel all day long. You do not have to kegel to push a baby out – in fact – you do the opposite!
Here are 3 ways to practice relaxation to help your pelvic floor muscles get the heck out of the way so your uterus can deliver your baby.
1. Coordinated Breathing.
Breathing is an incredibly powerful tool for all things in life, and birth is no exception. Coordinating your breath with your pelvic floor is imperative. There are two ways to practice breathing:
First, when you inhale, feel your midsection expand in all directions (rib, back, and belly) and get your breath as low as it can go, into your pelvic floor.
Imagine your pelvic floor lengthening and widening (as if to let out a little gas).
As you exhale, your belly falls and your pelvic floor gently recoils. This is the best way to get your breath and pelvic floor connected (for life!)
During labor, this will flip as you exhale, pushing out your pelvic floor (gentle bearing down) – but don’t worry too much about that from this article alone! Connecting the inhale to relaxation of your pelvic floor is the most important step.
Find a women’s health physical therapist to do a pelvic floor assessment to make sure you’re able to relax those specific muscles.
2. Child’s Pose.
If it’s comfortable for your hips and knees, get into the position pictured below. Your knees can be as wide as comfortable (they do not have to be as wide as possible). Practice the breathing from step 1 in this position. This position can be modified and used during birth (picture leaning over a therapy ball, or a hospital bed if delivering in that setting). Spend about 5 minutes here just breathing. It should be comfortable – use a pillow between your buttocks and legs as needed.
3. Squats with Breathing + Pelvic Floor Lengthening.
Some of us do best with a little movement. Try standing in front of a chair and go into a squat position. You do not have to go as low as pictured – even a mini squat is effective.
As you lower your bottom to the floor, inhale and relax your pelvic floor. This is a good time to picture a baby coming out! As you stand back up, exhale and gently let your pelvic floor recoil.
Like everything else in life, no matter how much you prepare and plan for the “perfect birth” it may not happen. But there can be comfort in knowing that you did everything you could to give yourself (and your baby) the best chance for things to go smoothly. These exercises are good to do even if you are not pregnant!
If you’re unsure how to perform these exercises or reduce your pain, reach out to us! We would be happy to provide some guidance or answer any further questions!
Breathe. is a three-clinic holistic physical therapy practice in Des Moines, West Des Moines and Iowa City / Cedar Rapids area specializing in dry needling, dra, pants peeing, women’s health, pregnancy/postpartum pain and recovery and pelvic floor dysfunction. Learn more at www.breatheptw.com