How can you prepare your body for birth? And why is it so important? Women's Health Physio Tamara Woods shares her advice.
Birth preparation is often focused on preparing a woman’s mind (which is, of course, extremely important!) What we believe is often lost or forgotten is the importance of preparing a woman’s body.
After all, birth is a physical as well as a mental experience.
When I say preparing a woman’s body, I’m not just talking about, for example, having strength in the legs so that you can change positions if you need to. I’m talking about something a bit different. I’m talking about balance.
You see, a baby needs to travel through a woman’s body in order to be born. It takes a certain route or pathway. It makes sense that it's best if this pathway is clear and there is nothing blocking the way.
This is where balance comes in. And not just balance, but also flexibility. The looser and more flexible your hips are, the looser your pelvic floor is and, in our opinion (and many others), the easier for the baby to travel down, through and out.
Does a balanced, flexible body birth a baby perfectly efficiently every time? Of course not! It's just another thing you can do to try and help yourself.
So how exactly can you prepare your body for birth? Here are our top 3 tips:
- Sit well and stand well. Boring, I know. Everyone is sick of hearing about posture. If you cross your legs, or if you recline sitting on your tail instead of your sit bones, it will make these areas tight. And often not just tight but asymmetrical. This can create a roadblock to the baby on its pathway to exit the pelvis. So, for the sake of the baby's travel through your pelvis and into the world, sit and stand well when you are pregnant.
- Know what is going on with your pelvic floor. Generally speaking, no one ever knows exactly what state their pelvic floor is in before they are pregnant, which is fine, because everything up until now should have been working absolutely optimally down there! But now is the time to get to know it. We recommend getting an internal examination done by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. They will not only teach you how to move it, but can tell you if it is flexible enough for birth. They can actually measure this using a little ruler! So be brave, and get your pelvic floor checked when you are pregnant.
- Learn how to push. And by push, I mean push a baby out. Pushing is one of those things that you think will come perfectly naturally, but for whatever reason, sometimes it does not when it's crunch time. Don’t get me wrong – lots of people are naturally efficient pushers. If that is not you, then it can be very helpful to get some training and practice beforehand. How can we tell if you’re a good pusher? Again, we figure this out whilst we are doing the internal exam – it takes all of 6 seconds!
So, there you have it! How you can and why you should prepare your body (as well as your mind) for birth!
Tamara Woods is a Women’s Health and Connect Therapy-trained Physiotherapist and co-creator of Born Ready (a birth course). The next Born Ready course starts on 18th January 2020. Click here to find out more.