Yoga Postures for Labour and Birth
In my prenatal yoga class, I am often asked if there are specific yoga postures that would be good to do use during labour. The answer is a resounding yes. There are quite a few really great yoga postures and movements that bring more comfort and ease to the birthing process.
Here they are!
The first two of postures have you on all fours. This position has the advantage of encouraging your baby to roll their spine against your belly. A position that your doctor or midwife will call Anterior. This is the ideal position for birthing a baby because it is the path of least resistance and therefore makes for an easier birth for you and baby.
1. Cat Stretch – rock your hips forward and back. Let the movement feel yummy!
Note : The swaying of the low back is not appropriate for all pregnant women. In some bodies, it can simply be too much for the low back and cause strain. Please listen to your body. If it feels right, go ahead. If it does not, then please go only to neutral (flat back) and then alternate back to the rounded position.
2. Doggie tail wagging -
This one may look and feel a bit silly – but it’s just the best in labour. Rock your hips from side to side. play with different speeds (excited puppy to relaxed old dog) to find the rhythm that it just right for you.
3. Doggie Tail Wagging with the Ball.
This is a great adaptation of the second posture. It’s especially nice if your energy is low or if your wrists get sore. Another idea : Take the ball and put it in the shower with you. Then get your partner move the shower head to direct the flow of water so that it falls over your low back as you rock back and forth. It feels so good.
4. Child’s pose – resting and recovery.
While the first three postures are great to do during surges (by surges I mean contractions – the word surge is a great and more positive way to describe the uterus working), the following posture is recommended for the space in between surges – the rest period.
5. Polar Bear Posture
What do you do if baby isn’t in that anterior position? Well this is where the polar bear position can help. In this posture, your hips are lifted higher than your shoulders. This will encourage baby to move towards the top of your uterus and up towards your lungs. Then baby have an opportunity to move into a spine facing outward position. Note : you will need to do this for at least 30 -45 minutes to give baby a chance to move.
6. Horizontal Figure Eights
Movements that move the hips tend to help the most in labour. This next one isn’t technically a yoga posture. It actually comes from belly dancing which has strong roots in childbirth. It feels very soothing in labour.
7. Hip Circles – standing – with support.
Those surges (contractions) can be intense. Leaning on a loved one is a wonderful way to feel and be supported during your labour. Just sure to bend your knees so that you can really move your hips round and round. You can also do the figure eights supported in this way as well.
8. Hip Circles on the Ball
Again moving the hips is key. Hip circles are another great way to keep this part of the body open, loose and relaxed… just what you need to help your cervix open more easily. You can do small circles, medium circles or really big ones. Again just follow your body’s lead, and do what feels right.
9. Deep lunges
Once your cervix is fully opened, you will start to feel pressure as the baby makes his/her way down the birth path or canal. Deep lunges help to create more openness in the pelvis so that baby has more space to move down into.
Squatting is probably the most traditional way to birth a baby. For humans, the squatting position shorts and widens the birth path or canal. It literally makes the path bigger. This is a very good thing. In addition, squatting in an upright position has the added benefit of using the force of gravity to assist your uterus in pushing the baby out. You can squat by holding onto something (most hospitals have a squatting or birth bar) or you can hold onto your partner. Alternatively you can also squat against the birthing ball.
Did you use any of these movements in your labour? If yes, please comment and tell us about your experience.
ps. A big thank you to Katrina (and Evelyn still inside) who volunteered to be the model for this post.
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