3 Principles in Pregnancy
Balance, Gravity and Movement
These "3 Sisters" help you prepare for and progress through childbirth. Begin Balance activities in early pregnancy, even before pregnancy, or as soon as you learn about the benefits of balance (now!).
The goals of our 3 Principles of Spinning Babies are:
- Help the baby's chin tuck to get a smaller head circumference
- Help baby rotate themselves so their head is coming down from an optimal angle
- Open the pelvis wider with mother's own positions
- Help make the most room for baby to descend - whether in the ideal position or not
- To reduce the times medical intervention is necessary and let baby make these changes themselves in the room the mother has accomplished with these techniques and more
Using balance, posture and movement in pregnancy enhance baby's starting position for labor. Being more balanced, aligned, and flexible will help your uterus repostion the baby with pre-labor and early labor surges (contractions).
The Three Principles are:
Most babies get themselves into the positions that fit through the pelvis. But up to a third of babies may need help to do so. Labor contractions will help most of these babies rotate. But up to a third of these will need the doctor to finish the birth. That help often doesn't come until labor has been long and challenging. My idea is to increase birth ability and confidence for both parents and providers!
Most babies and mothers don't absolutely need Spinning Babies.
Still, I believe, most mothers and babies benefit with improved pelvic balance: Labor may be easier then when lacking alignment.
Body work can improve the womb's balance - which may be necessary for some women to achieve optimal fetal positioning.
First, we want to help baby into that ideal or optimal position. If we can help the baby into a position in which the baby has the smallest head diameter and has the strongest and most flexible use of their spine we can save the mother and baby some work in labor. Makes sense, doesn't it?
If we attend to the first principle, the next one, Gravity, works even better in labor.
Pelvis with uterus and some of the ligaments
1st Principle, Balance
To balance the uterus we need to either relax chronic tension in the ligaments or muscles, or to support the abdomen when muscles are too lax.
Relaxing in this sense does not mean deep breathing or conscious relaxation. Rather, we need to relax possible spasms in the muscles and ligaments of the reproductive organs and the connections to the joints of the pelvis. Relaxation in this way improves abdominal and pelvic floor tone.
Discomfort is a symptom of an imbalance
Once the womb and the surrounding supportive structures are toned and symmetrical, a mother can find improved success from good maternal postures.
- Forward-leaning inversion
- Pelvic floor release
- Psoas release (or resolution)
- Stabilize the pelvis with yoga or physical therapy techniques
- Standing Sacral Release
- Abdominal Release (Diaphragmatic release)
- Chiropractic, Craniosacral, myofasical techniques and care
The womb is anchored in place by ligaments, like ropes to a hot air balloon. Helping your womb be symmetrical can help the baby be symmetrical--by this I mean, in a vertical position (vertical lie) with the chin tucked to the chest. This makes the baby come out in the smallest diameter possible.
What if a woman’s abdomen is already relaxed?
Once a woman has a baby or two, or six, relaxation is rarely a problem. She may be too loose. Supporting her belly with a pregnancy belt can substitute for any missing tone in the abdominal muscles.
A good pregnancy belt supports the baby’s angle into the pelvis. The belt adds a slope to help the baby to aim and then, later, rotate into a good starting position for labor.
Some women may have to wear the pregnancy belt through labor and pushing to keep the baby in a safe position. That's not that common, but just so everyone knows, there are no absolute statements in birth – except one, “The baby always comes out!”
Whether you are too tight or too loose, balancing the uterus is the first activity each day, towards optimal fetal positioning. Relax any muscle spasms, or, support loose abdominal muscles and uterine ligaments to set the tone of the abdomen.
Discomfort in pregnancy, a previous labor longer than 24-48 hours, and/OR a fetal malposition are signs a woman's body has come out of balance. Its not unusual. See what to do in pregnancy to find what you can do at home and with the help of professionals to get your body into balance.
2nd Principle, Gravity
The couch is a leading cause of cesarean surgery!
Maternal Posture to Use Gravity Wisely
Our posture and muscle tension affects uterine ligaments and tone. The effect comes from habit. Uneven postures used habitually over time can tilt the womb, tighten uterine and cervical ligaments on one side which twists the uterus. After years of such a habit, simply sitting and standing properly for a few weeks may not correct a fetal mal-position.
Active women who walk, swim or do yoga may have overcome many of the bad effects of growing up sitting in school desks or slouching on the couch.
Spinning Babies recommends using the 1st Principle first to make maternal positioning with Gravity more likely to work for you.
Gravity works 24/7.
Standing and walking are examples of movement and gravity work together to settle baby head down. A woman's ability to walk upright helps her baby settle head down. Even from 10 weeks, and on through the 2nd trimester, and even before baby is expected to be head down, a pregnant woman's habits can influence how easily, or not, her baby can become head down.
A baby's head is the heaviest part of its body, and the upper back is second. As long as there isn't a reason why not, baby will settle in a head down position. Sometimes tension or twists in the uterine muscle occur or the pelvis gets "out of alignment." These are a couple reasons that a baby couldn't settle head down.
In the last month of pregnancy, the growing baby slides lower in the softening womb. Baby's weight bends baby's neck as the back settles lower. This tucks the baby's chin. Help your baby tuck his or her chin by relaxing the pelvic area and keeping it flexible.
3rd Principle, Movement
Move the Pelvic Joints
The pelvis opens better when it has been kept mobile and symmetrical. There are four pelvis joints, two connecting the hips to the sacrum, one in front and the tailbone. The sacrum itself has flexibility, as long as we don't sit or lay on it in labor and pushing.
Gravity works best with movement. Water helps movement. If marbles are stuck in a jar, then filling the jar with water and jiggling it gently is likely to free the block.
So, some women will spend a lot of time swimming, belly down, in water that they can relax in while they move. Other women will request that their amniotic sac, or bag of water, not be broken by the doctor or midwife in labor. This will help the baby rotate her head more easily during birth.
Researchers led by Azar Kariminia reported in 2004 that pelvic rocking (aka, pelvic tilts), for the purpose of correcting posterior lie, did not work. However, reading the fine print, 11% of the women did the pelvic rocking as much as told to, and the women only started pelvic tilting at 37 weeks gestation. This study looked at a good activity --but done too little and done too late.
Pelvic rocking is more likely to be effective if the abdominal muscles and ligaments were relaxed first. You might try some Rebozo "sifting" first.
Do about 20-40 pelvic rocking movements each time, 1 or 2 times a day. If you do them while baby is active, there may be more benefit to fetal position improvement. But start early, in the first trimester! Do the pelvic tilts after doing the maternal Inversion exercise.
Do pelvic rocking any time when your lower back is achy. The movement of your lower back releases strain there. The pelvic tilt is a good comfort measure.
Throughout pregnancy movement and exercise helps improve muscle tone to help with engagement and helps the pelvic joints stretch and relax, which will help descent once labor begins. In labor, movement helps the baby descend through the pelvis.
Swaying in great circles while sitting on a birthing ball is one way to help the head slip into the pelvis.
There are several pelvic balancing exercises you can do to stabilize your pelvis, if necessary, which will help make your pelvic ligaments more balanced. See In Pregnancy under the Techniques section.
When might these activities not work?
Habits of poor posture and chronic tension affect the balance (symmetry, abdominal tone and the state of tension or relaxation) over time. The uterus works most effectively when the abdominal ligaments, muscles and fascia (a strong coating of membrane around all the organs, are in balance.
When we have had a habit for years, sitting and standing properly for a few weeks is not likely to correct the effects.
Sitting in bucket seats in cars, couches or lying improperly while on bed rest can tilt the womb. A tight ligament can pull the uterus to the front, back or side. Tightening can twist the uterine ligaments supporting uterine placement.
Active women who walk, swim or did regular yoga may have overcome many of the bad effects of growing up sitting in school desks or slouching on the couch.
The sacrum can also become twisted a little sideways or wrinkled like a throw rug from riding in a car or crossing our legs. These common issues can prevent a baby from getting into an ideal position.
Professional help may make all the difference. Professional helpers vary as do womens' body's needs. Find the person right for you to get body work from.
What if this is too much and I feel overwhelmed?
We are all doing the best we can, with what we know at the time and to the point that we can cope with. A year from now, I want you to be satisfied you did the amount of preparation you are satisfied with. Not every challenge with fetal position can be overcome, but many can!
Go to The Daily Do, Activities for Every Pregnant Woman. There you'll learn what to do every day... ok, most days.
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