Here are four main things you need to concentrate on with your own body that will help to prepare you for the birth of your baby.
It is important for women to prepare themselves physically and mentally for childbirth. Incorporating pelvic floor exercise prior to pregnancy allows for greater support of extra weight during pregnancy and assists with the delivery and recovery of childbirth. Muscles have the ability to self-repair and retrain.
The Pelvic floor can be consciously controlled and trained much like our arms, legs and abdominal muscles. Pelvic floor gymnastics are simple, and what’s really handy about them is that many pelvic floor exercises can be carried out anywhere, without anybody realising what you’re doing.
Another aspect of exercising your pelvic area is to practice squatting. Squatting in labour with increase the pelvic diameter by 30%; resulting in a shorter second stage. So practicing this position during pregnancy will give you increased strength and the ability to maintain the position longer as you push/breathe your baby out.
Ideally you would be aiming for your baby’s back to be running along the front of your bump or along either side. If your baby is lying with their back against your back (midwives refer to this as the OP position) then this can make for a longer labour and a more painful one. To avoid this position or correct it try sitting on a birthing/gym ball with your legs wide apart and lean forward so you can rest your arms/head onto a low ironing board. It is worthwhile adopting this kind of position towards the end of your pregnancy.
Perineal massage is becoming more and more common as midwives are now more proactive about advising women to undertake this massage from 34 weeks of pregnancy. It’s certainly not a fad though as research has found it can reduce the risk of needing a cut in labour (episiotomy) and also help to reduce the risk of tearing. In my time as a midwife I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t want to avoid tearing or being cut, so it’s got to be worth trying. It only takes 5 -10 minutes and can be done as much as every day or just 2-3 times a week. You are advised to use suitable oil due to the sensitive area; see here for “Down Below” a specially developed perineal massage oil that is fragrance free.
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