By: Caroline Hodges, PTA, Pelvic Health Therapist at The Green Room Physical Therapy
Utilize these 6 Components to Relax your Pelvic Floor During Labor and Birth
Diaphragmatic breathing helps to relax the pelvic floor during labor. When we inhale using our diaphragm, the pelvic floor muscles naturally lengthen and relax to accommodate the increased pressure from above. How do you know if you’re properly using your diaphragm? Assess yourself! You should see a small rise in the chest, significant lateral rib excursion, and belly expansion. If your chest is the primary mover, your diaphragm isn’t descending and allowing the breath to travel downward, promoting pelvic floor relaxation.
A deep squat lengthens and relaxes the pelvic floor by opening the pelvic inlet. This position also helps to open and release your hips and pelvis. You can do this by completing standard squats, sinking down into a deep sumo squat and rocking side to side, or resting in a modified child’s pose (supported with pillows), for example. To further promote relaxation of the pelvic floor, integrate deep, diaphragmatic breathing throughout.
Diagonal, asymmetrical movement helps to open the mid-pelvis or the point at which your baby is more directly on the pelvic floor. This stage of labor aligns with fetal stations 1, 0, and -1. Lunge-like, asymmetrical positions are a great option to help baby rotate, reposition, and navigate this area of the pelvis. Curb walking and hip hiking are also helpful in mobilizing the mid-pelvic region.
The toilet, also known as the “dilation station” is a place where your pelvic floor relaxes based on the pelvic position: flexed and internally rotated hips open the pelvic outlet and relax the musculature. Because the baby is descending and the pelvis is already crowded with the uterus, bladder, and bowel, it can be helpful to empty the bladder every hour and the bowels as needed during labor to reduce pelvic stress. Before getting up from the toilet after emptying, hang out for a few minutes to complete some diaphragmatic breathing in this lengthened position.
5. Make Noise!
Laugh, sing, or moan to keep an open glottis; this will keep you from holding your breath and building tension through your pelvic floor as you labor and also as you bring your baby earthside during birth!
Yes, orgasm can be used to mitigate pain, promote progression of labor, and relax the pelvic floor! Inherently, the pelvic floor muscles repeatedly contract during an orgasm, but then move into a more fully relaxed position afterwards. This can be done through intercourse with a partner, clitoral stimulation, or stimulation of other erogenous zones around your body, like the nipples, ears, and toes, so have fun with it and allow your body to relax into the experience!
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