For #womenshealthwednesday I wanted to share three poses that prepare the body during pregnancy for a more easeful labour.
Pictured above is baddha konasana or bound angle pose. This is a common suggestion for pregnancy but it is often practiced incorrectly. When practiced in a seated position, we draw the tailbone back behind the body, allowing the hips to roll forward into an anterior (forward) position. To facilitate this, I suggest placing a folded blanket underneath your seat and sliding forward until your sitz bones roll off the blanket onto the floor. Your tailbone and glutes should still be on the blanket. You can imagine that if you were to grow a tail that it would extend back behind your body as opposed to being tucked forward toward your legs. When we allow the tailbone to roll back into this position, taking it out of a tucked stance, we create freedom in the pelvic floor muscles.
This is because the pelvic floor muscles, create a sling from the tailbone (coccyx) to the front of the pelvic bowl. When the tailbone is tucked, the pelvic floor muscles shorten. In this shortened state they are unable to fire correctly and we can develop dysfunction. With the tailbone in its optimal position we can develop tension free strength as all of the muscles are in their optimal position for firing correctly. For labour this becomes crucial. With the pelvic floor in a tension free state, we have less resistance during birth and have more control over engaging and working with our bodies to facilitate vaginal delivery.
In the later stages of labour this stance, with the tailbone lifted becomes even more important. Pictured above is malasana (or squat pose). In this position with the legs turned out laterally and the tailbone lifted, the lower portion of the pelvis opens up more fully. (I will talk more on how the positioning of the legs affects the opening of the pelvis next week.) To come into the pose safely, without harming your knees. Turn the legs out laterally with toes pointing toward the long edges of your mat. Lower into the pose with firm thighs slowly. You can place a block under your seat for stability if you like. Once there, use your elbows to create stability by pressing into your inner thighs while focusing on drawing your tail bone toward the back of the room.
To finish the sequence, I like to end with supta baddha konasana or supine bound angle pose. This is a great posture for releasing the low back and hips while giving you time to rest and re-energize while pregnant. I would be less likely to use this pose during labour and view this posture more as a posture during your preparation times. As you progress further into pregnancy, you will want to use more than one bolster so that your heart is elevated higher than your hips. You can view the video on my instagram feed https://www.instagram.com/mandorlayoga/
Stefani Wilton and Contributors
Finding beauty in the midst of joyous imperfection