Can Yoga Really Help Make My Pregnancy and Birth Easier? by Zoe Mongey, Yoga specialist.
Yoga specialist, mother of four and childbirth educator, Zoe Mongey, has created a DVD, ‘Bliss from within’. The DVD has proven to be so successful in helping women experience a less complicated active birth that it has been endorsed by NACE, ‘The National Association of Childbirth Educators’, and is used in hospital active birth classes. Here Zoe lists her top five tips for an active labour.
“As a mother of four and a yoga teacher for many years, I believe yoga can help you enjoy the journey of pregnancy more and prepare better physically for the experience of labour. Yoga will improve your comfort during pregnancy and reduce your risk of complications during labour. By practicing breathing techniques and visualisations you can also calm and centre yourself more and bond deeper with your unborn baby during pregnancy. Visualisations learnt during pregnancy will also provide you with a tool to cope better during your labour. Yoga had such a profound effect on my pregnancies and labours so I’m thrilled to share these tips with you.”
Top Tip One – Use the all 4’s position during the early stage labour.
Carry out the All 4’s position during the early stages of labour to elleviate contraction pain. This pose can be done on the floor or the bed. It helps to encourage the baby into the anterior position so its spine swings to the front of your belly. It also relieves the pressure in the pelvis as gravity takes the weight away from the pelvis and to the belly – It is also worth noting that doing this pose throughout pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester, is an excellent way to encourage anterior lying babies.
In first pregnancies the babies head often engages deep down into the pelvic outlet, quite often in a fixed position when labour begins and so by the end of your pregnancy you end up with a permanently posterior lying baby or anterior lying baby. In second, third and subsequent pregnancies babies can have high mobile floating heads and can get into any position throughout labour. So All 4’s can be a life saver!
You can use All 4’s pose during contractions in the first and second stage of labour. It is also particularly helpful for women who have a posterior lying baby. For these women forward facing positions on hands and knees, off your bottom and back is ideal. So on all 4’s resting on the birth ball or stacked pillows for instance is perfect so that massage, hot packs or a TENS machine can be carried out on the back.
Top Tip Two – Learn to use pelvic rotations to dissipate the intensity of the contractions.
Try using pelvic rotations during the 1st stage of labour to dissipate the intensity of crescendoing contractions. You can also use pelvic rotations in the second stage between contractions. Kneel on floor or up onto the bed and use slow circling motions of the hips to help to dissipate the discomfort as a contraction builds. You can also carry out pelvic rotations as shown in the picture resting onto your birthing partner with one leg bent. In all variations of pelvic rotations gravity helps descend the baby further down the birth canal towards the dilating cervix in preparation for the next push.
Top Tip Three- Relax using childs pose.
This position can be done on the bed or the floor. Take the knees wider than the belly, big toes close together or touching and sit back onto the heels. You can place your arms up on the bed, on your partner, stacked pillows or a ball. In this position gravity also helps to push the baby down into the dilating cervix. This is a very passive, supported position, good for when you need to rest between contractions but also for when you are trying to breathe through to a contraction while your birthing partner uses massage or heat packs on your back.
Top Tip Four – For the later stages of labour use the deep Squat position.
The deep squat position is for the second stage of labour. Lean back onto your partner who is sitting on a chair or the ball and squat down with the knees wide. You can also do this position up on the bed with the back of the bed raised to 90 degrees supporting the back, the knees bent and the feet flat on the bed. This helps to widen the pelvic diameter bringing the babies head down into the dilating cervix.
Top Tip Five: Visualise your end goal by focusing on something special.
When you are preparing your hospital bag, consider taking something special with you for the baby to wear after it’s born. This may be a little pair of socks or a little suit. It can be anything that you feel is beautiful. You can look at it every now and then during your labour and this will help you focus on why you are there.
I really believe understanding and learning these poses will empower pregnant women with knowledge and understanding of active birth positions.
‘Bliss from Within’ has been endorsed by NACE and features two 45-minute yoga programmes, alongside advice on positions and massage for labour, pelvic floor techniques, partner assisted yoga, breathing techniques, home prop for yoga and baby bonding visualisations.
Zoe has two renowned yoga DVDs – ‘Bliss from Within’ for mums to be, and ‘Baby Bliss’, for new mothers. For more prenatal yoga and labour tips check out www.jiivana.com.au