For those that are pregnant for the first time, to the veteran prenatal moms, there is much to be said about how to prepare for labor, going to the prenatal classes, and getting all the ‘right’ baby gear. What we tend to forget about is what our pelvic floor should be doing to prepare for labor, and some well-intentioned individuals wrap everything into a ‘do kegels’ recommendation.
I encourage my prenatal clients to think about this: kegels in simplified terms are intended to make a ‘strong’ pelvic floor and prevent things from falling down and out. For most women, babies are intended to be birthed vaginally. Given that babies need to come through the pelvic floor, it doesn’t make sense to focus on only lifting and ‘squeezing’ the pelvic floor.
What should we be doing instead? As with any muscle of the body, the pelvic floor - a group of muscles that hang similar to a hammock between the pubic bone and tail bone – also needs to be able to contract and relax. Practicing relaxing the pelvic floor actively can be beneficial labor and delivery preparation particularly when you incorporate movement, breathing, and potential labor positions. When we breathe in, we want the pelvic floor to relax down and away (imagine you are trying to set down a marble, opening down towards the chair). We will naturally return to a lifted position as we breathe out and you will often feel the pelvic floor lift (up and away from the chair, lifting the marble).
Squat: standing feet comfortably apart, as you breathe in move into a squat position (or deep squat), and breathe out stand up
4-point: on your hands and knees, as you breathe in rock backwards bringing your bum towards your heels, and as you breathe out move back into upright.
Biggest thing to remember? Your body will do the work, just breathe!
BScKin, MPT, Certified Pelvic Floor Therapist
Haylie is a physiotherapist from Warman, SK Canada. She has been practicing women’s health and focused in prenatal and post-partum care since graduating in 2011. Advocating for treatment for women, ensuring appropriate and effective care throughout pregnancy and post-partum, and helping all expecting and post-partum moms brought her to open her family-friendly clinic where moms are encouraged to bring their infants and children to treatment. Warman Physiotherapy & Wellness has been nominated for the 2016 WMBEXA and ABEX Awards, is a WMBEXA award recipient of 2017, and Haylie was recognized as YWCA Women of Distinction for Health & Wellness in 2017.