In Part 1 of this series we discussed Holistic Birth Planning: Healthy Pregnancy & Labour through Nutrition & Acupuncture. In this blog we’ll be focusing on Preparing our Muscles, Joints, Tendons and Tissues for Labour: Through Physiotherapy, Chiropractic Adjustments and Perineal Massage.
Multiple pregnancies have taken a toll on my pelvic floor, causing a lot of pain throughout this pregnancy. Therefore, my midwife suggested I see a physiotherapist that specializes in pelvic floor for pre and postpartum. The physiotherapist provided me with several exercises that I can do to help with pain and to help prepare for labour.
Our core muscles and tendons connect with almost every other muscle and tendon in the body. Therefore it’s no surprise that my growing belly has caused tension in my lower back and legs.
Gently stretching out my inner thighs with side lunges and butterfly stretches have helped ease pain in my legs and back. Visualization exercises to help relax and open my pelvis are also helping to prepare me for the birth. The diaphragm and pelvis are connected. Deep breathing to expand the diaphragm from all sides will help to open and relax the pelvis. It can be helpful to visualize your pelvis opening like a flower.
While exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor are important, additionally I was advised to focus more on relaxing my pelvic floor in the third trimester. However, strengthening my pelvic floor will be important postpartum.
The perineum on a woman is the surface region between the vagina and anus. It is common for the perineal tissue to tear during vaginal birth. A perineal stretch or massage practiced in the last 3-4 weeks before delivery can reduce tearing during birth. It seems every source I checked has a slightly different version of how to properly perform a perineal stretch, but at the end of the day, I prefer to listen to the professionals. This is how my physiotherapist demonstrated how to do a perineal stretch, I will give you the basic description, but I do recommend having a pelvic floor assessment done and having a physiotherapist properly demonstrate how to perform this.
In addition to having my pelvic floor assessed by a physiotherapist, I also had a chiropractor do an adjustment on my pelvis to make sure it was properly aligned. This is very important, as it is common for a baby to get stuck in the birth canal if the pelvis is misaligned. As it turned out, my pelvis was rotated, which was also contributing to the leg pain I was experiencing.
The chiropractor also worked on my round ligament. This is the ligament that connects the front of the womb to the groin. This ligament can become very tight during pregnancy and can be accompanied by pain in the belly and groin area. As explained by my chiropractor, a tight round ligament and a misaligned pelvis can both contribute to a baby’s ability to move freely about the womb, so addressing these issues can further encourage baby to get into a good position.
You should notice the tissue stretching more easily as you continue to do this. You can also have your partner do this for you, if you have trouble reaching.
In our continuing blog series on Holistic Birth Planning, our next blog discusses how mental and emotional preparation can keep you calm and focused.
Our upcoming blogs will discuss:
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