Optimal Fetal Positioning
Why it is important and what you can do
Characterized by long 60-90 second contractions
What is the ideal position?
What is an acynclitic presentation?
Should you do kegels? Should you do perenial massage?
What are these two actions trying to accomplish?
Why are how I sit and posture so important?
This page answers these questions!
The ideal position for your baby is with it's back against your the left side of your belly with it's head down. In most cases, this is the easiest position for a baby to navigate the pelvis, rotating down and out of the mother's body.
This position is called LOA - Left Occiput Anterior.
LEFT - Location of your baby's back in relation to your body
OCCIPUT - Baby will be head down
ANTERIOR - Baby will face mom's spine with it's back against her belly
Sitting on your sit bones (see video below) will help keep the pelvis in a neutral position. When the back is not slouched and curved it stops acting like a hammock for the baby to fall into and the baby's back will more easily gravitate towards the mother's belly. Your belly should be the hammock for your baby's back. These techniques will help achieve a more neutral position with proper posture:
Video on Posture
Follow this link for more information on how to sit
Tailor Sitting. Posture. Neutral Pelvis.
Bring your legs up and crossed in front of you. This position is often called tailor sitting or criss-cross applesauce. It is a NATURAL POSITION that women throughout history would access to rest. This position makes it possible to sit on your SIT BONES (see sitting video below) and to keep your pelvis neutral. It also stretches the muscles in the pelvic floor to give them their PROPER LENGTH. Tight pelvic floor muscles come from having a tucked tail bone. When the tail bone is tucked, there is a more narrow space. This narrow space may be more challenging for a baby to move through. Sitting in the position described above may reduce the likelihood of tears. PERINEAL MASSAGE is an attempt to force these muscles into their proper state, while sitting on the sit bones with the legs drawn in stretches the muscles from inside, properly. This position can be achieved anywhere that you feel comfortable drawing your legs up. NEVER CROSS YOUR LEGS at the knee, with one leg brought up over the other knee with the feet dangling, because this can cause an IMBALANCE in the pelvic floor. An IMBALANCE can result in an UNEVEN SPACE for your baby to descend and your baby's head may tilt in the pelvis (ASYNCLITIC), resulting in uneven pressure on your cervix, which can cause a slow to progress labor, irregular contraction pattern and more uncomfortable contractions.
Sitting on the Ball
The Exercise Ball is good to have at work, sitting while at home and for your birth. It promotes an OPEN PELVIS and excellent POSTURE, providing a good STRETCH to a mom's ligaments and muscles. An exercise ball is also an excellent resource for postpartum infant soothing techniques, because babies love being gently bounced on a ball while in their parents arms.
Exercise Ball Tips
Find a ball that fits your body size and height. Stabilizers are sometimes nice for beginners or for long stretches of time on the ball. The most common mistake is not filling it enough, so be sure to keep letting in air. Blow the ball up to the point where your HIPS are HIGHER than your KNEES. Center your pelvis over the ball. Seat yourself with open knees and far enough back on the ball to feel the opening underneath you in your ligaments and muscles. You should feel the stretch.
You want to feel the pressure under your pelvis so that you know you are getting a good stretch to those muscles and ligaments, opening your body and making room for your baby. Sitting on the ball also engages your birthing muscles, helping them to improve in STRENGTH and ELASTICITY. It is important to sit on the ball often to receive the maximum benefit in your pelvic floor.
Keep A Neutral Pelvis
Keep your PELVIS NEUTRAL. Imagine that your pelvis is a bowl of water and you don't want to spill the water, so you avoid tilting and tucking your sacrum and tail bone. Also, AVOID sitting in chairs that encourage SLOUCHING. When we keep our pelvis neutral our body naturally creates a hammock effect with our belly being the only curve for the baby to slip into. This encourages the LOA position. There is less pressure on our sacrum and this will help to prevent lower back pain. We also create more SPACE for our baby to enter our pelvis at an EVEN angle. Finally, and not of less importance, we keep the muscles of the pelvic floor stretched to their maximum length, so that we achieve what Perennial Massage attempts to accomplish with an intuitive and natural method: POSTURE. This will help achieve a natural stretch and lengthening, which may reduce the likelihood of tearing.
Do not ever cross your LEGS as we are culturally inclined to do. This makes our pelvis TILT at an awkward angle and will change the internal shape of our pelvis, potentially creating tight and short ligaments and muscles. Sit with your KNEES OPEN and your SACRUM UNTUCKED. It is important to keep our pelvis neutral so that our baby has an even space to descend and does not become ASYNCLITIC and stuck.
How A Rebozo May Help
Throughout history Mexican midwives have used a woven cloth called a rebozo to bring the laboring mom comfort and to help position her baby during the birthing process. It can also help relieve tension in the muscles postpartum, stabilize her, and carry her baby. In the videos on this page, you can explore some of the amazing techniques that can be done with a rebozo. It can sift the mother's belly, helping to position her baby and relieve tension, increasing her deep relaxation and good blood flow. It can offer support by lifting her belly and relieving the pressure from the baby on her body, while also helping the baby move up and over her pubic bone and into a better angle for engaging in the pelvis. The rebozo can be used for pulling, which helps release the pelvic floor, as a blindfold, as a tent over the mother and her partner, to wrap around the mother to calm shaking muscles, which are common in labor from the intense flow of hormones. The possibilities go on forever.
Purchasing Your Rebozo
Here is one resource for purchasing a strong high quality rebozo: CLICK HERE
You might hear that a scarf or bed sheet works as a rebozo in a pinch and it might be able to accomplish some of the comfort techniques, but it is insufficient in most cases to a real rebozo. A real rebozo is woven. The fabric has steady strength. The best size is either 6 or 9 feet long and around 30 inches wide. This will make it easier for the fabric to conform to your body and give you the most comfortable support. The 6 foot rebozo works for many of the comfort measures, but the 9 foot rebozo gives more length and opens the door for more flexibility. It can be tied to the bed for leverage when pushing or you can make a knot on the top which is thrown over the other side of the door with the door closed to stabilize and to help the mom sway and squat.
Don't do Kegels do Squats Instead
When properly done, SQUATS engage the entire set of birthing muscles. KEGELS only engage some of them and may imbalance the pelvic floor. BALANCE is important because we want the baby to descend evenly and easily through the mother's pelvis with no resistance.
Muscles that are strong are also elastic and elastic muscles will easily yield, like an accordion or a rubber band. They will hold no unnecessary resistance.
Click the links provided for excellent Squatting advice!
How to Squat
Roll up a small towel for your heels if your tendons are tight
The weight should be in your heels and your toes should be free for wiggling so that your knees will be safe
Engage your glutes and entire bottom as you lower yourself down as far as you feel comfortable
Hold onto someone strong or to the door knobs from the side of the door for support
Keeping the feet parallel while going down into your squat may help to keep your pelvis open
It helps to anchor it into your day in a similar way to women throughout history. They would have squatted down each time they needed to relieve themselves. It's a very natural rhythm for doing your squats. On your way out of the bathroom take a moment to grab the door handles for support if you need to and go down into a squat with the weight in your heels. Relax there for a short time, as your comfort level allows, then engage your entire pelvic floor and glutes to bring yourself back up. You can also squat to get anything that you need from the floor. The more you squat the more you will benefit!
TAILOR SIT whenever possible.
Sit on your BALL.
Sit with good POSTURE.
SQUAT properly and often.
Do NOT cross your legs and do NOT do kegels.
For more EXERCISES that will prepare your body for birth and help position your baby click the links below. Go to the daily and weekly exercises on the SPINNING BABIES website and pick the ones that resonate with you to get started. The MILES CIRCUIT is a three step process. It is good to practice this 2-3 times each week. Find a doula who knows how to do these techniques so you can get hands on help now and in labor!