As I now sit with my new baby boy, most likely in the midst of nursing or changing a diaper while you read this, I thought I'd start to fill you in on parts of my pregnancy journey. Many of you have asked how I prepared for the labor and delivery, and though I won't yet get into the exact details of my birth experience quite yet, I will say it was an incredibly amazing experience.
Preparing for labor and delivery takes a holistic approach, but I'll start first with the physical aspect, since this is so much of what I cover with women in the studio.
Around 35 weeks of pregnancy is when I began consciously preparing on the physical level to meet my baby. I did certain stretches, movements, breathing, and massage techniques to get ready for the big day. Here is my go to list of what I did to physically prepare my body. I hope you find them useful too, and remember only do what feels right for you.
Diaphragmatic Breathing (focusing on letting go of the pelvic floor): Sitting on the large exercise ball. Breathing in as the ribcage expands laterally and the pelvic floor drops down into the ball. On the exhale (instead of getting the sensation of the pelvic floor lifting), keep the pelvic floor relaxed and dropped down. Do this for 3-5 minutes daily.
Hip Circles on the Ball: Sitting on the large exercise ball, spread your butt cheeks so the pelvic floor is on the ball more directly. With breathing, do hip circles 15 times in each direction. Do this 1-2 times per day.
Hip Circles on Hands and Knees: Go down to your hands and knees, knees wider than your ankles. Push yourself back and around, making circles in one direction, then repeat going the other direction. Do 10-15 in each direction daily.
Kneeling Lunges: Kneeling on one knee with the other foot in front, and both knees turned out. Shift your weight forward and back to open the pelvis and inner thighs. Use support as needed for balance. Do 10-15 on each side daily.
Deep Squat with Support: Place a few pillows or a meditation pillow on the ground. Take a wide stance and lower yourself down into a squat onto the pillow. Make sure the pillow(s) are high enough so you can maintain a slight arch in your back. You can place your elbows inside your knees if it feels comfortable. Hold this position for 3-5 minutes daily while breathing and letting go of the pelvic floor. Come out of this squat slowly and carefully, use assistance if needed.
Perineal Massage: A couple days a week in the last few weeks of pregnancy, use a lubricant that you know works for your body, I used coconut oil, to gently massage the perineal tissue. This is the area at the back side of the vaginal opening, between the vagina and rectum. You can do this sitting with knees bent, or standing with one foot up on a stool, and easiest to do in the shower. Apply a gently pressure towards the rectum and sweep back and forth in a "U" shape to begin to stretch the tissue that will be stretched during a vaginal delivery. (If uncertain about this one, please check with your doctor first and seek out a pelvic PT to teach you)
Overall Sense of Letting go of the Pelvic Floor (relaxing to use the bathroom, not crossing my legs, letting go of any tension in the pelvis)