Gold Coast Doulas asked Heidi McDowell to guest blog on the topic of preparing your body for childbirth. Heidi is a yoga teacher at Mind, Body, Baby, a doula, a wife, and most importantly, a mama. Her goal is to create a community space for you that feels safe, supportive, and empowering. She holds certifications in Fertility Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Postpartum Yoga, and Children’s Yoga. She is also a certified Postpartum and Infant Care Doula and a Labor Doula. She is one of two Yoga Alliance Certified Registered Prenatal Yoga Teachers in all of West Michigan. This is the highest credential in the field of Prenatal Yoga.
You find out you’re expecting and immediately begin to prepare in all of the ways you know how. You make the doctor’s appointment, the registry list, prep the nursery, hire the doula, and sign up for your childbirth education class. Does it feel like you forgot something? That’s because you did.
What about your body? You’re preparing to run a marathon aka give birth and you haven’t done any intentional body preparation. And I’m not talking about seeing the chiropractor or getting a massage (do that too). But I am talking about intentionally moving, balancing the tissues, practicing positions, and learning tools to ensure you’re empowered and physically ready to run this race.
As a prenatal yoga instructor, birth doula, and Body Ready Method trainer I get asked a lot of questions about how to prepare for delivery. As an expecting mom and yoga teacher I thought I had done all of the work during my pregnancy. After 52 hours of labor I was left wondering what I had missed. I never want someone else to feel like they could have done more to feel empowered and physically ready. That’s why my best tips always involve prenatal body preparation.
Have you heard of your psoas? It’s a big muscle that connects the top of our bodies to the bottom. Did you know it runs over the top of your pelvic inlet on both sides? It is between your baby and your birth canal. In order for spontaneous labor to occur and progress these muscles need to be out of the way of your baby. Sitting, biking, running, lifestyle habits, sports can all contribute to imbalance and excessive tightness of these muscles. An easy way to release this muscle is to stand on a yoga block with one foot and allow the other leg to pendulum swing freely front to back.
How about your sacrum? That triangle-shaped bone in the center back of your pelvis. It’s this amazing trap door that can either get in the way or out of the way when baby is at different levels of the pelvis. If your muscles are restricted in the glutes and low back this bone is likely stuck and unable to move. My favorite release is called a hip hinge. From standing begin to “hinge” at the hips like a broomstick was glued to your spine. Feel the release throughout the entire posterior body.
Tissue takes time to change. You should begin to move your body in intentional ways throughout pregnancy. This will allow your body the ability to open and release your baby when the time comes. Consider preparing your body with low-impact prenatal yoga classes. When practiced with a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher classes should be so much more than just yoga modified for a belly. There’s a reason why it is the number one most prescribed form of prenatal movement by doctors and midwives.