Active labour may not be a term you’re familiar with but just like hypnobirthing there are many who believe active labour can play a major role in a positive labouring experience. In short it means being free to move around and into different positions to facilitate a more comfortable labour (comfortable but not pain free may we add!)
Studies looking into the benefits of an active labour show that it helps with pain management, assists the baby to get into a more optimum position and encourages better oxygen flow to the baby. A 2012 study even showed that there was less intervention in those who had an active labour.
Building in movements for an active labour into your training routine can help you to feel more confident and supported during the birth. We have teamed up with Stef Larden,
Pre + Postnatal Specialist Trainer, to put together 5 exercises that will help your body feel better equipped when the time comes.
Supported squat - Squatting is a great way of opening your pelvis and will feel like one of the most natural positions as you labour
Bent knee hip hinge - This is very similar to a deadlift. If you feel discomfort in your back as you labour this can be a great way to stretch your back and engage your glutes and legs to support your whole body.
Swiss Ball side to side - Sitting on a Swiss ball is a great tool in the birthing room and even just bouncing on it will feel good. Adding in some movement like swaying side to side or figure of eights with your hips will help to relieve tension.
Child’s Pose on a Swiss ball - One of the best parts of active labour is that you can use gravity to facilitate the baby’s descent. Rocking back and forwards with your arms supported on the Swiss Ball gives your baby plenty of room to move as your bump hangs down. It also helps the back of your pelvis to open - a process that happens in the second stage of labour as your bones shift to increase the pelvic diameter.
Clam - Birthing on a bed is very common but some (particularly those labouring back to back) find it hard laying on their back, so lying on your side is a good alternative. To help keep the pelvis wide a clam is an effective move and making these muscles strong is important as you may have to hold your leg up as your baby makes their appearance.
Most important to all of these moves is trying to incorporate breath - moving on your exhale as a contraction hits so that you have a focus of energy is key here. It can be easy when labouring to lose the rhythm of breathing - practicing a good technique that is linked to your movement helps you to anchor and stay in control.
Giving birth has often been described as a marathon and according to Stef, is that where possible you should train for it like one too. That means working specific muscles that you are going to need help you birth your baby and adding exercises into your routine that you can call on when you need them. Becoming familiar with the above moves will leave you free to focus on breathing and knowing your body is doing all it can to help get your little one into your arms.
For more pregnancy and postnatal workouts and information - including a 20min active birthing workout - head to Stef’s Instagram - @bearwell.co
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