Yoga and Breathing Exercises to Prepare for Labour
In the month or two before having your baby, things might start to feel very real. The pregnancy symptoms, both physically and emotionally, definitely go up a notch! From prenatal aches to pains, to suddenly needing to get baby things together, we wanted to give you some very real tips on how pregnancy yoga and breathing techniques can help you through this stressful time. As well as helping you maintain some calm in your third trimester, it can also help with your labour.
Moving your baby into position
One of key ways to get ready for labour is to help move your baby into position. How your baby is situated and orientated can help make your labour quicker and more comfortable. Around the 8th month of your pregnancy your midwife will be able to tell you how the baby is sitting in the womb. To make things easier on you, the ideal position is to move the infant so that they are facing towards your spine and to have as much space in front of your pelvis as possible; with the head pointed downwards. This position is called ‘occiput anterior’ and effectively makes the smallest part of the baby’s head come out first, reducing the risk of trauma to you.
But the question we are sure that you are asking is how do you move your baby around to make sure that they are in the right position? There are many options and exercises for you to do which will help but some of this will be naturally done for you as the back of the head is the heaviest and as such gravity will do some of the work. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t help things along.
One of the simplest ways is to change your posture when you are sitting or standing. The best posture to use is known as the ‘UFO position’. In this position, you need to be standing with a stable object that you can lean over, such as a chair or table. UFO stands for ‘Upright, Forward, Over’ so you want to stand in front of the object with your feet in line with your hips, then lean slightly over your object keeping your back straight. This can also be accomplished by sitting on a birthing ball.
Another option is going for a swim. Swimming can really help you move your baby around especially if you perform breaststroke as this stretches out your legs and hips. If you don’t feel confident swimming while pregnant then using a float and stretching your legs behind you will help to move the baby’s head to the correct position.
Use yoga to help prepare your body for labour
Yoga is a great exercise to do when pregnant. This is especially the case when you are coming up to your due date as it is a low-risk exercise that also promotes relaxed breathing. Controlled breathing can help a lot during your labour as a method of pain relief and can reduce discomfort. Understanding and practising this before the delivery date can help you control the discomfort of giving birth. Additionally, some yoga poses help to strengthen the pelvic muscles, therefore helping with delivery. Furthermore, as yoga exercises mostly consist of gentle rocking of your pelvic region or encourage relaxed and open stances this can help move your baby into a better position ready for birth.
Which Yoga exercises to try
Below are a few simple yoga exercises to do which will help you in preparation.
The Half Butterfly Pose
This pose helps to loosen up your hip and knee joints, which could result in shortening your delivery process but relaxing this central area.
How to do it:
- Sit on the floor and stretch your legs out in front of you
- Place your right foot on your left thigh
- With your left hand hold the toes of your right foot
- Place your right hand on your right knee
- Pull your knee up towards the chest using your right hand, taking a deep breath as you do
- Push your right knee towards the floor while exhaling
- Repeat for opposite leg
This pose helps you to improve the strength of your legs and thigh muscles, increasing your core strength for labour.
How to do it:
- Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and feet facing about 45-degree angle
- Place your arms by your side and clench your pelvic floor muscles
- Lift your arms above your head and take a slow deep breath
- Face your palms towards each other
- While breathing out, push your hips forward and your knees back, so you are in a squatting position
- Hold this position for the count of 5, while taking slow measured breaths
- Take a deep breath in as you straighten your legs and push your fingertips towards the ceiling
- Exhale as you lower your arms to the side
- Repeat this movement, bending your arms and legs on an exhalation and straightening them on inhalation
The focus of this exercise is to relax your hips and lower back which will help to ease pain during labour.
How to do it:
- Stand straight, placing your legs slightly apart
- Put your hands just below your hips on the upper thigh
- Gently inhale a deep breath
- Breathing out, bend your knees slightly while rotate your hips clockwise
- Ensure that you keep your upper body straight
Repeat this movement ten times clockwise and then another ten anti-clockwise. This might be easier to do while sitting on a birthing ball.
Breathing exercises to learn for labour
It is well known that breathing during labour is important and certainly most of the previously discussed yoga exercises focus on improving breathing. Using breathing techniques can make a major impact on controlling and tolerating pain within your labour With that in mind, we have detailed a few methods that can help you get through the labour a bit easier.
Create a natural pattern
One of the easiest ways to build a breathing technique for labour is to use your own natural rhythm. Standing in a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe normally; focus on the timing of your breathing and listen for pauses in your breath. This is your natural breathing rhythm.
Learning this and trying to reproduce it during your labour will help your muscles to relax and reduce the pain you will feel.
This method is perfect for dealing with pain and helping you relieve some of the intense feelings of contractions. Imagine you are standing in front of a cake with candles, and you want to blow the candles out. Take a deep breath in through your mouth and blow out in short sharp bursts, while doing this exercise imagine that the pain is blown out with each short puff of air.
We are sure that you would have been taught this method in the past, however, counting while and during taking a breath is a great way to control your breathing especially in painful situations. The focus of this technique is to give your mind something else to think about instead of the contraction. Take a deep breath in via your mouth and slowly count to five as you do. Then gently breathe out trying to count to seven.
The Golden Thread technique helps you to exhale the pain during each contraction and centres your mind. Taking a breath in through your nose closing your eyes as you do. Purse your lips together to create a small gap and slowly exhale. While doing this picture a golden thread of pain floating away from you.
We hope that our advice above will help you when it comes to your child’s birth and in the preparation beforehand. At MotivatePT, we have helped hundreds of mums-to-be build strength for their pregnancy and life beyond. If you would like to discuss our dedicated plans for pre-natal, pregnancy and post-natal training, book a consultation today.