How would you feel about birth, moving your child through your body – through your precious vagina, if you knew how potent an influence your breath, posture and movement can be in changing the size and shape of your birth canal? Preparing your pelvic floor is perhaps the last frontier of modern childbirth education.
Every muscle in your body needs to be able to do these three actions – extend, engage and release. These are the three primary actions for healthy muscle tissue. Think about your hand – when you need to reach for something, you extend your hand wide to grasp the object. When you have the object, your muscles contract or squeeze to firmly hold it without dropping it or damaging it. When you’re done with the object, you release and allow your hand to completely rest.
What if you were walking around all day with your hands balled into fists – perpetually contracted? Because all muscles groups are connected, tension from your hands would travel up the length of your arms, into your shoulders, neck, jaw – walking around in a perpetual state of muscle tension sounds exhausting doesn’t it?
Let’s now consider the pelvic floor. If you’ve focused all of your pelvic floor practice on tightening/ contracting these muscles, how does support you in preparation for birth? Short answer, it doesn’t.
Just like every other group of muscle in your body, the muscles of your pelvic floor need to extend, engage and release.
Extend – healthy muscles have a range of movement defined by their bony anchor points. Your pelvic floor is anchored primarily to the bones of your pelvic outlet. Exploring different ways of leaning with your torso, rotating your thigh bones and incorporating pelvic movements can open the bones of your pelvic outlet by up to 30% to facilitate vaginal birth.
Engage – focusing on your muscles to squeeze, tighten or contract is a great way to bring tone to your pelvic floor and to support continence. Excessive and persistent contraction of the pelvic floor shortens these muscles, making it challenging to extend to their full potential – this can present as an obstruction in birth. Tight muscles fatigue easily and are more likely to find their maximum point of extension long before your bones have found theirs -that will make finding that magical extra 30% of opening very challenging.
Release – relaxing fully and completely is where we explore the great paradox of pelvic floor health and resilience. Well-rested muscles are more pliable and responsive. Pliable muscles are ready and able to extend with ease and comfort and will follow bones to their maximum point of extension with less likelihood of damage.
So how can we introduce these three muscle movements of the pelvic floor into birth preparation?
Diaphragmatic breathing – drawing each inhalation deeply into your abdomen is a wonderful way to nourish and access your pelvic floor muscles. Diaphragmatic breathing encourages your pelvic floor to gently extend with each breath in, soften and release with each breath out.
Align your posture – when your posture is balanced and aligned, there’s less structural demand on your muscles, so they can relax and help you make space.
Smooth rhythmic movement – feels great, brings you into your body and helps you explore lot’s of fun ways to bring pliability and comfort to your pelvis and to your pelvic floor. Rhythmic movement coupled with diaphragmatic breathing encourages the muscles of your pelvic floor to spontaneously extend, engage and release as you explore your own healthy range of skeletal and muscular motion.
What a lovely way to build confidence in your body and its innate birthing potential!
Would you like to dive into a birth preparation workshop that will guide you though luxurious practices that will not only prepare your pelvic floor with superb alignment, breathing and movement but will also help you to –
Befriend your nervous system – understand when and how to either down-regulate your stress response from alert vigilance; or up-regulate from passive acquiescence into a place of calm, centred and assertive awareness.
Connect with your babe – consciously bring your awareness inward to connect emotionally and energetically with your child
Experience the majesty of your birthing hormones – release dreamy, luxuriant birthing hormones to facilitate progress in labour and bonding with your newborn.
Nourish working muscle and connective tissue – release deep-held tension as you cultivate a profound sense of softness and pliability in your pelvic bowl. Lovingly create space to encourage your baby to position favourably throughout pregnancy and embrace release practices to facilitate birth.
Enhance pelvic floor integrity – explore how softening your pelvic floor is the key to sustaining resilience and integrity.
Embrace your boundless capacity to let go – when you taste and feel the rich sensations moving through you in this practice, you can’t help but be inspired by your body’s innate birthing intelligence and your boundless capacity to lean into the intensity of labour to simply let go for birth.
Do you feel concerned about the potential impact birth may have on your pelvic floor? Are you concerned about your capacity work with the intensity of labour and childbirth?
I’m here and I’ve got a plan for you. I’ve shared these practices with hundreds of birthing women and look forward to sharing with you.
In Breathe for Birth Workshops we explore lovely ways to move and breathe into this space to –
Join me in my Breathe for Birth One Day Workshop Saturday 5 June 2021 at MAMA Kensington. Bookings can be made at https://www.mamashanti.com.au/product-page/breathe-for-birth-one-day-workshop-5-june-2021