C- Section Recovery Guide

C- Section Recovery Guide

Welcome to our C Section recovery guide.

We hope it helps you to heal more optimally, and helps prepare you for what your body needs during the postnatal period, the support you need personally, and some top tips to help you recover as best as you can.

 

– Spend 5 minutes every day lying down on your back, gently lifting your tummy off the scar, to allow it to breathe. To get some space and some air. You can also start to stretch one, then both arms over your head to help improve the elasticity and mobility, gently stretching the tummy and fascia from your finger tips, through your chest, tummy to your scar. By pointing your toes away you can also get a lovely stretch all the way down below the scar too.

– Avoid wearing tight high waisted leggings. It will affect how your body handles pressures, healing, and your breathing mechanism postnatally. Try for a softer material, cotton, and not too tight.

– To help reduce increased pressure in the abdomen and pelvic floor, use a step to put your feet on when you need to go for a poo, to help reduce straining. 

– Place your hands around your lower ribs, and focus on breathing here, into your ribs, to help your diaphragm and ribs move well for optimal healing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. We have a video on breathing for healing, so check out our instagram videos for this.

Click here for Herts Osteopathy on Instagram. Head to videos.

– Walking is key to healing. Start on day 1 by aiming for 5 minutes, at whatever pace your body can handle. This will be VERY SLOW….And that’s ok! Try to do this walk on your own if possible, so someone else is pushing or carrying baby. You can then build this up each day. Try to aim for 20 minutes to 30 minutes walking each day by week 2. In the early days you may find it more beneficial to try 5 minutes in the morning, then 5 minutes later on. This can be really helpful.

-You can start using oil to gently massage your scar once it has closed and the stitches have come out. Start above and below the scar, then build up to gentle circles along the scar. Circling in towards the scar rather than away. Even from day 1 you can gently place your hands on your tummy, and then start to touch your scar, and the area around it. More stimulation of the skin around the scar will help the healing process too, so gently massaging your lower tummy softly or touching the scar with soft pieces of fabric, gently sweeping them around the area of the scar can be great to help the sensation come back. 

– Prepare for 4 weeks of support to avoid you having to do too much lifting. 6 weeks if you have a toddler or older child too. 

– Avoid picking up car seats/ older child/ buggy for at least the first 3 weeks. After this, try to breathe out when you lift, so you are helping your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to work in the right way.

– Try to avoid carrying your child on your hip. This significantly affects the healing process as it puts your pelvis, lower back, hips and upper back into an imbalanced place.  This can have a greater effect as your body is trying to heal at this time.

– Avoid any crib which is completely ‘next-to-me’, because you don’t have the space to get up from lying properly. The best way to get up from lying postnatally, especially after a C-section is to turn onto your side, bend knees then drop your legs off the bed, feet on the floor, then push up with your arms to get up into a sitting position. When you lay in bed and just twist to pick up your baby for a feed, then twist back, it places a lot of pressure on the abdomen, and ribs. It can also affect the healing of the mid-line (diastasis recti).

– Try to sit on both buttocks evenly when you are sitting down, and propped up well so you are not in a deep chair or slumping. If you are feeding your baby, use as many pillows as you can so that you are not bent over your baby too much. See a lactation consultant if needed to help you. I often find that prolonged sitting after a C-section can feed into more coccyx, sacrum and lumbar spine pain and issues. We can help with this through osteopathy, but sitting more upright, and getting up every 30 minutes can be helpful for this. We also have a postnatal coccyx pain blog post on our website, and you may find this really helpful.

Tailbone Pain Postnatal (coccyx pain) is common BUT NOT NORMAL… Don’t live with it!

– Cranial Osteopathy is fantastic for babies.

Cesarean section births mean that they have not been exposed to the forces of the birth canal, which means that sometimes they need a little help. They also may have been in the birth canal a while or had a bit more of a stressful birth if it was an emergency section, so a Cranial Osteopathy appointment can be wonderful to help balance them post birth, identify any issues that there may be with digestion or feeding, sleeping, and help you with this too.

Contact

 

– Plan for your postnatal osteopathy appointment. After a C-section, the best time to come in is anytime from 3 weeks. Postnatal osteopaths are specialised in helping your body to heal optimally after birth. This means assessing your scar, and pain you may be in. Pelvic pain and coccyx pain, and aches in your tummy and lower back are quite common postnatally. We can help with this, as well as assessing your scar, and checking for any diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles), and pelvic floor dysfunction. We do see pelvic floor dysfunction and leaking after C-section as the incision in the abdominal wall and uterus, can affect bladder function, and also pelvic floor function. So we can help with this too. We are happy to help with absolutely anything and everything postnatal.

 

We really hope you have enjoyed this blog and that you have found it helpful. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Please also take a look and follow us on FB and IG. Regular blogs, vlogs, hints and tips.

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Thank you for reading, Jo Day.

Principal Osteopath and clinic owner at Herts Osteopathy Health Hub in St. Albans, UK. Women’s Health Osteopath and Pilates Practitioner. 💜💜

Tailbone Pain Postnatal (coccyx pain) is common BUT NOT NORMAL… Don’t live with it!

Tailbone Pain Postnatal (coccyx pain) is common BUT NOT NORMAL… Don’t live with it!

Coccyx pain is really common postnatally, after birth and sometimes for a long time after birth. Although this is not a normal part of the postnatal period, and you really don’t have to live with it. Often called coccydynia (which just means coccyx pain), this can present itself as pain on the tip of the tailbone as you sit down, or for prolonged sitting, and then many can experience it at its worst when getting back up from sitting. You will feel it differently depending on what is causing and driving your pain.

I have decided to write this blog, as I have had a number of women come to see us with coccyx pain, and not knowing why they had it, what they could do, or that osteopathy can help with this. It is not a normal part of the postnatal period, and can absolutely be helped. Below you will see I have given you some information about the condition and why you may get pain at your tailbone, but I have also included a COCCYX PAIN HELPSHEET, and also some information on postnatal osteopathy and what we do.

The coccyx is the anatomical name for your tailbone, and often there can be disruption to the sacrum too (just above the coccyx).

As you can see on this picture by the amazing @duvet_days, the coccyx is the end of your spine, and it connects to the rest of the pelvis through the sacrum and the sacroiliac joints. It is surrounded by ligaments and an overlying connective web called fascia. Your entire pelvic floor attaches to the coccyx in some way, so there are deep connections through the whole pelvis, which can be affected by movement and forces below, from the foot up, and then above, from the head down.

 

The coccyx can commonly be injured or disrupted during birth, this is far more common with labours where you are lying on your back, or in the semi-sit position particularly, labours that have been going on for a long time, prolonged pushing, or with epidural, episiotomy, forceps and ventousse deliveries.



During labour the lower back (lumbar spine), sacrum and coccyx have to move and tip to allow baby to engage and then come out. Therefore anything which prevents this from happening ie. lying on your back, can cause the coccyx and sacrum to get stuck in its position, and drag through the associated ligaments and soft tissues. This causes pain and dysfunction in this area.



Scar tissue as a result of episiotomy or pelvic floor and perineum damage and tears, can also cause coccyx pain. The altered load, strain or damage through the Pelvic Floor is a huge contributor to coccyx pain.

The pelvic floor attach from the pubis at the front to the sit bones and coccyx at the back, and therefore any disruption to this hammock of muscles, ligaments and fascia will cause an altered push or pull or strain to the coccyx. I often find imbalances through the pelvic floor are a big contributor to sacrum and coccyx pain.

This beautiful image shows the coccyx and its relationship to the whole pelvic floor. It’s integral, it’s central!

If you had PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) during pregnancy which wasn’t addressed, then this can also feed into coccyx pain postnatally, because the compensation we do through the body which cause PGP, or that we do because of having PGP, can also cause altered load through the pelvis as a whole, and can significantly affect the healing process.

 

So what can be done? The answer is POSTNATAL OSTEOPATHY 💜💜💜💜



In your postnatal Osteopathy appointment, your Osteopath will spend time going through your medical history, birth and labour history, injuries and previous pain that you may have experienced in your life. All of this information helps to build a picture of what may be causing your issues and your pain, and what may be impeding your healing mechanism.

We will assess how you move, globally and locally. Globally for a full body picture: so we can see from head to toe what may be maintaining your pain for example how you walk, or move through your foot and hip…

And we will also assess locally, to see if your sacrum and coccyx move as you breath, or are they stuck? Is your tailbone pulled under or to one side? Are there muscles overworking, or in spasm?

This will affect the tension and strain pattern through the entire area. Are there areas of the coccyx that are particularly painful? We will rule out any more serious conditions, and then work on treating everything which may be impacting your pain, and your life!

 

 

There are often some simple things to help you day to day with management of this pain, alongside treatment to get to the root cause.



COCCYX PAIN HELPSHEET


1. Sit on frozen peas (5 minutes at a time is ample). By sitting on frozen peas it can help reduce local inflammation at the tip of the coccyx.


2. Avoid sitting on a donut/ring cushion as this will allow your pelvic floor to drop, and increased pressure to build up and push downwards. Instead, a wedge cushion which leaves a space for your coccyx only is more preferable.


3. Trying to sit more upright and even on both sitting bones. Most coccyx issues are exacerbated by slumping due to the pressure and inflammation at the sacrum and coccyx, and won’t help with the healing process. This is the same as sitting over on one buttock or hip rather than the other, as this will disrupt the healing mechanism too.


4. Follow our pregnancy stretching video. Found on our IGTV and website at https://hertsosteopathy.co.uk/pregnancy-and-pgp as the muscles and mobilisations in this are also super helpful for this type of pain.


5. BREATHE!!!
The diaphragm and ribs are directly related to the pelvic floor, so by focusing on sitting or standing upright (or lying flat on your back), focus your breath, deep into your ribs, feel them move outwards slowly as you inhale and slowly in as you exhale.


6. Avoid gripping or squeezing your pelvic floor muscles.
This may be slightly controversial to some of you, but kegals, and pelvic floor squeezing and gripping, especially without the letting go and lengthening part of the process, will actually feed more pain into the area.
So lie on your back, take a deep inhale, and feel your pelvic floor muscles relax, and drop to your feet. Feel if they feel even…?? Then as you exhale, slowly feel like you are lifting your pelvic floor up towards your sit bones again. The letting go part of this is so important, and will lead to longer lasting pelvic floor function, and less pain.


7. Avoid being constipated
Talk to a nutritionist about ways to help you individually. Your osteopath can also use some lovely abdominal techniques to help with this too, and give you individualised advice. And when you go to the toilet, sit with your knees higher than your hips, to allow for an easier smoother passing of stools, and less straining.



I really hope this has all helped you, please feel free to share with your friends.

As osteopaths we can help you get to the root of your problem, working on scar tissue, pelvic and spinal mechanics, abdominal visceral and fascial release work, ribs, diaphragm, and direct work on your coccyx, pelvic muscles, to get you rebalanced, out of pain, and back to optimal healing. Then we can help you to start rebuilding, rehabbing and restoring postnatally. 

We have a number of wonderful osteopaths here who have specialism in postnatal osteopathy, but also have many links with fantastic women’s health osteopaths across the country, so let us know if you would like a recommendation for someone to help you closer to home too. 

Thank you so much for reading.

Jo Day BSc MOsT PGCE PGdip in Women’s Health Osteopathy

Principal Osteopath, Women’s Health Specialist, Pregnancy and Postnatal care and rehab/clinical pilates practitioner.

Herts Osteopathy, St. Albans, Hertfordshire. 

https://hertsosteopathy.co.uk   ///  admin@hertsosteopathy.co.uk   ///  www.facebook.com/hertsosteopathy    ///  www.instagram.com/hertsosteopathy

 

 

Nutrition for Optimal Postnatal Healing – Guest Blog from Michele Kingston

Nutrition for Optimal Postnatal Healing – Guest Blog from Michele Kingston

How do you heal the body with nutrition after having a baby?

Guest blog written by Michele Kingston from TNM Clinic, St. Albans.

Hello, I am Michele Kingston, I am a registered nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner. Nutritional and functional medicine addresses the root cause of health problems and uses natural therapies such as diet, supplements and lifestyle to support the body back to optimum health and wellness.

I have been practising for 11yrs, both in private practice and on staff at an environmental medicine clinic working alongside doctors and other clinicians. I have worked with both adults and children, from all around the world with a variety of different illnesses and needs, such as IBS, hormonal imbalance, weight issues, skin problems, autoimmune disease, fatigue, depression and more.

I also work with clients who want to prevent health problems, or wish to switch to a vegan diet or need support whilst pregnant and post-natally. I have consistently seen amazing results and I am living proof that nutritional medicine can have a powerful impact on health. It’s something I am so passionate about.

 

 

So you’ve just given birth?

I often get women asking… What should I eat?

After giving birth we need to nourish our bodies. They have done a magical, miraculous thing and are often left rather nutrient depleted and exhausted from their efforts.

Especially in the first 3 months postnatally, also known as the 4th trimester, this is not the time to worry about losing weight and dieting, but helping the body heal and nourishing yourself back to full health.

Specific needs the body has in the 4th trimester that can be accomplished with a nutritious diet:

  • Extra requirement for nutrients

After pregnancy you can be deficient in some nutrients, micro-nutrients like vitamins and minerals and macro-nutrients like carbs, protein and fat, because of a few reasons:

  • During pregnancy you were literally building a human being from scratch and it is built from the nutrients you provide, the baby gets priority and uses your stores and what comes in through the diet and supplements.
  • Labour and 4th trimester are mentally and physically exhausting and this drains nutrients.
  • Healing requires extra nutrients, all pregnancies and labour will require some level of tissue healing. So, the diet needs to provide the constituent parts of collagen, muscle and skin, which are essentially protein, fats and micronutrients.
  • If you are breastfeeding, nutrients are prioritised to make good quality milk so you have an even higher need.

 

  • Anti-inflammatory process

Inflammation is a necessary response that occurs naturally during pregnancy and labour. Inflammation can also occur in the 4th trimester due to lack of sleep and stress experienced at this time and we need to help the immune system bring this inflammation back under control to be able to heal. So we don’t want our diet and lifestyle to exacerbate inflammation, but rather heal the damage that inflammation can inflict and allow it to naturally reduce.

 

  • Hormonal balance

Post-natally you are in the midst of a symphony of hormones, your body is creating and reacting to an abundance of oestrogen, oxytocin, prolactin, prostaglandins, insulin, adrenaline and cortisol. Good nutrition is required so you can:

  • make these hormones, many of them are made from cholesterol and essential fats
  • detoxify and eliminate the hormones once they are used, otherwise they can accumulate and cause issues
  • keep blood sugar balanced so as not to cause cortisol and insulin spikes.

What is optimal nutrition in the 4th Trimester?

  • Keep things simple, there is no pressure for a perfect diet just do your best and try to do as much of the below as you can manage and think about what you should be including rather than excluding.
  • 3 balanced meals per day, which are 50% vegetables, 25% protein, 20% complex carbohydrates and 5% good fats from nuts, seeds, olives, oily fish and avocado. A meal balanced like this provides good amounts in the right ratios of the nutrients you need to balance blood sugar, keep you feeling full and satisfied and rebuild and heal tissues in the body.
  • At least 5 servings of veg and max 2 of fruit and try to eat a rainbow of different colours. Eating an abundance of veg and some fruit provides good amounts of vitamins and minerals, lots of fibre and calms inflammation.
  • Fresh, wholefoods rather than processed as much as possible
  • Careful with the sugar and refined white carbohydrates as these have zero nutrients, increase inflammation and actually increase fatigue.
  • Try to include the specific foods mentioned below that are rich sources of nutrients

 

Eating like this provides 5 key things your body needs to heal:

1. Vitamins (really you will need all vitamins and minerals), but those to really focus on are:

  • Vitamin C is excellent for healing and rebuilding collagen, aiding iron absorption, antioxidant protection and supporting immunity. Foods rich in vitamin C are peppers, herbs especially chives, parsley and coriander, kale, broccoli, kiwi, strawberries and oranges.
  • Vitamin D is important for bone development so especially important if you are breast feeding to have good levels to pass on to baby, supporting immunity and alleviating inflammation. Vitamin D production is stimulated by sunlight on the skin so the best way to get this is being in the sun without spf. It is also a nutrient that often needs to be supplemented to get optimal levels. There is a small amount in some foods like fish, mushrooms and fortified foods.
  • Vitamin E is great for healing, antioxidant protection and reducing inflammation. Foods rich in vitamin E are nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil

2. Minerals:

  • Zinc is essential for healing, antioxidant protection, thyroid and hormonal health. Foods rich in zinc are seafood, meat, nuts, lentils, soya beans and oats.
  • Magnesium is used up when you are stressed. It is required to relax muscles, required to make energy and aids sleep. Foods rich in magnesium are cocoa (craving chocolate can be due to low magnesium), dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  • Selenium is necessary for healing and hormonal balance. Foods rich in selenium are brazil nuts ( 1 contains enough for whole daily intake), fish and seafood.
  • Iron is crucial, especially if you suffered with blood loss. It is needed for energy and detoxification. Haem iron is found in red meat and non-haem iron is particularly found in dark green leafy vegetables and apricots.

 

3. Protein is absolutely essential for healing, it provides the building blocks for collagen and tissues like skin and muscle. Quality complete proteins are only found in animal products like meat, fish, eggs and dairy. You can get protein from vegetable proteins like beans, chickpeas, lentils, grains, nuts and seeds, but they are incomplete and therefore lower quality. If these are your only source of protein ensure you combine them adequately and eat them in abundance.

 

4. Fats are key for healing and dampening inflammation, aim to consume each day several tablespoons of anti-inflammatory fats like olive, flax, avocado, hemp, walnut, sesame oil and omega 3s from oily fish. Do not be scared to eat fat, remember fat doesn’t make you fat, it heals and builds the body. Did you know that baby brain is caused by the body taking fat from your brain to give to the baby? So it is crucial we replace that lost fat as soon as we can post-natally. Also, if we don’t eat fat we can’t absorb fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A and E.

 

5. Healthy calories in abundance, are needed right now to provide the energy for healing and coping with the stress and busyness of your new normal. Weight loss is not the objective right now and so please don’t restrict calories. Something low calorie doesn’t necessarily mean it is healthy, likewise something high calorie doesn’t mean it is unhealthy. Focusing on eating 3 balanced meals that are high in veg, low in sugar and minimally processed will naturally provide the right amount of calories you need. Please note that if you are breastfeeding and/or finding you are getting extra hungry add in some snacks and/or increase portions at mealtimes.

So there you have it, some of my key nutrition tips to help you to heal and nourish your body back to optimal health after having a baby. I really hope this has been useful.

If you would like to know more on this subject or perhaps you have a health issue you would like some help with, do get in touch, I would be delighted to help you. I offer a 15min complimentary discovery call so you can ask me any questions you may have before you book. Consultations are currently over zoom and the initial consultation is 60-90 minutes.

 

After the consultation I create for you a bespoke nutrition, supplement and lifestyle programme. The first consultation plus the programme is £130 and follow ups are £65. I look forward to hearing from you and nourishing you back to health. Thank you for reading, Michele.

My website is www.tnmclinic.com, www.facebook.com/nutritionalmedicineclinic or email me on hello@tnmclinic.com or call me on 07977155516.

Antenatal Education – Guest Blog by Midwife team – PBB Events

Antenatal Education – Guest Blog by Midwife team – PBB Events

Antenatal Education – Starts from the moment you find out you are pregnant.

Guest Blog written by Emma Trollope from PBB Events.

Hi! My name is Emma Trollope, I am a midwife and have been working within the NHS for the past 13 years. With my mum (who is also a midwife) we run the Pregnancy Birth and Beyond Events Company – PBB Events. For the past 18 months we have drawn on our vast knowledge of antenatal education, from working, teaching parents, and mentoring students within the NHS. This vast experience over the years has enabled us to create events to help empower expectant and new parents, support them and provide them with information to be able to make informed choices to have a positive pregnancy and birth experience. It has also enabled us to provide courses for birth professionals to help keep them up to date on their knowledge and introduce interesting topics.

Midwives from PBB St Albans

Antenatal education is a huge part of the pregnancy experience and we feel pregnant women and their partners are entitled to realistic and affordable classes. Antenatal education’s purpose is to prepare expectant parents for pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.

Antenatal education is recommended by healthcare professionals around the world, and there are many different courses to choose from. The research around what the benefits of attending antenatal education is lacking. A Cochrane review in 2007 suggested antenatal education did not make a difference to the way a women birthed (vaginal delivery, instrumental or caesarean section) however from other studies and our experience it can make a big difference to a couple having a baby, helping to reduce the fear of childbirth, reducing the false labour admissions, and increasing partner involvement.

But actually, the antenatal education starts from the moment you find out your pregnant….

Booking Appointment

At your booking appointment (usually before 10 weeks of pregnancy) you will be given information about screening options for mum and baby, your diet in pregnancy, foods to avoid, foods to increase, vitamin D and ferrous sulphate, exercise, plan of care for your pregnancy, contact numbers and when to be concerned. As well as options around place of birth, dental care, safety at home, starting to think about feeding your baby and risk assessments at work to name a few. That sounds like a lot to cover in one appointment doesn’t it? Well, it is, and most women come out of that appointment feeling overloaded with information!

Some of this information you may have chosen to read up on beforehand, or you may know if you have been pregnant before. If it is all new, do not worry you will be given leaflets and there is more information and links in your handheld maternity notes that you will be asked to carry round with you and take to every appointment, and I have included some great websites at the end of this blog for further reading. Some hospitals may have gone completely paperless and in this circumstance you will be asked to download and app.

All this information is important though so you can make choices about the kind of care you will receive during your pregnancy, what kind of screening you would like, if any, and to ensure you have the healthiest pregnancy possible for you and baby.

Midwife Appointments

Throughout your pregnancy approximately every 4 weeks or so you should have an appointment with a midwife or obstetrician to complete a check up on how you are doing physically and mentally as well as following the development of the baby.

Even if your pregnancy is classed as high risk and you need to see an obstetric consultant, we would recommend you make some of your appointments in between to see your midwife as well. Different information is given at different appointments as it is relevant to different weeks of pregnancy. Doctors appointments tend to focus on the medical issue that you may be at risk of or going through where as at a midwife appointment you can have discussions about things like further screening for you and baby as well as talking over your birth preferences and plans for postnatal care as well as an opportunity to discuss the plan the consultant has documented for you.

Antenatal Classes

There are sooooo many types of formal antenatal education available that will go over preparation for labour, birth and the first few weeks with your new-born. You can even find your own sources of information via You Tube, websites, or books (just be careful that you make sure they are reputable, trustworthy places).

Some you pay for, and some are free, some are face to face while others virtual. You can book classes with other parents or if you prefer you can go for a one to one session. A few of them include some kind of exercise like Pilates or yoga as well as being packed full of information and others focus on techniques to help you in labour like hypnobirthing.

Then there are the more traditional classes, some taught by midwives, like ours, which can be a course of classes over several weeks or individual modules. Individual modules on caesarean section, induction of labour or feeding can be especially good if you are not a first-time mum and just want to remind yourself about different aspects of labour and birth or life with a new baby. Perhaps you have done another type of class and want to top it up with a specific subject which matches your circumstances or risk factors.

With so much choice you need to think about what you want. How you learn best. Do you want to form a support network by meeting other expectant parents. Do you want it to be interactive with a facilitator and to be able to ask questions live or do you prefer just to sit and listen to a pre-recorded video. Whatever your choice there is something out there for you, just ask.

What we do know is that when women and their partners who feel prepared for birth and know about the possible complications that can arise, they feel more equipped to be actively involved in the decision making during their pregnancy, labour and birth. This decreases the fear of childbirth and parents end up with a much more positive experience, so it is well worth preparing yourself in which ever way you feel right for you.

Thank you so much for reading.
Emma & Debbie Trollope owners of PBB Events
Events run by Midwives for Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond.

Please head to our website for more information and helpful blogs from us and the women we have supported during their pregnancy and parenting journeys www.pbbevents.com

Please also feel free to email us directly if you have any questions info@pbbevents.com
We are also on Facebook www.facebook.com/pbbevents and Instagram www.instagram.com/pbbevents

As promised we have popped some other websites that we think you would find really useful for further information.

www.pbbevents.com

Pregnancy | Start4Life (www.nhs.uk)

Foods to avoid in pregnancy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

WHO | Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy

PregnancyHub | Tommy’s

Encouraging Optimal Foetal Positioning By Grace Lillywhite

Encouraging Optimal Foetal Positioning By Grace Lillywhite

Encouraging Optimal Foetal Position – GUEST BLOG, written by Grace Lillywhite, Founder of Centred Mums Pilates and Wellbeing

Grace Lillywhite

How daily movement can guide your baby into the perfect place for birth.

The position of your baby in the womb can have a huge impact on the way your labour progresses. It is often assumed that if baby is head down, then they are in the perfect position for birth, but in reality, small changes to way your baby is situated can improve your birth outcome and speed up your labour. If they have their chin slightly lifted or head at an angle this can make it more difficult for them to move through your pelvis and encourage your cervix to dilate.

There are many things you can do during your pregnancy to create room for your baby to move into the perfect position to be born. This advice is even more important if you find that your baby is: Transverse – lying sideways. Breech – head up. Or back-to-back – lying with its spine against yours. The guidance in this blog is designed to give your baby as much space as possible to move into an ideal place for birth. And, whilst that can only be a good thing, it is also important to remember that your baby is very wise, and knows what it needs, sometimes they get into their position for a reason and you should never feel that you are ultimately responsible for your baby’s position. Anecdotally, there has been a rise in breech babies over lockdown. One of the reasons for this, could be the more sedentary lifestyles we are all currently living.

Pregnancy Pilates

 

Here are some things to bear in mind:

Do what you can to promote balance in your body. No one is perfectly balanced. But by taking care to distribute your weight evenly through your feet, and ensuring that you don’t sit with your legs crossed – you can create more balance in your body, which in turn will help you to feel more comfortable throughout your pregnancy and allow your body to function better. Make your posture work for you! When your bones are aligned your body can function in a way that is better for both you and your baby. When you slouch, and sit on the back of your pelvis, you shorten and tighten your pelvic floor – preventing it from functioning effectively, which is especially important during a vaginal birth. Try to sit with your knees lower than the level of your hips, so that – once it is big enough! -your belly can be lower than your hips too. By sitting on the front of your ‘sit bones’ you encourage your pelvic floor to function better and give your baby more space to move and get into a position that will help the birth process.


Move, move and then move some more! If you can keep your pelvis balanced and mobile throughout pregnancy, your body will thank you when it comes to giving birth! You’ll find that your pelvic opens more easily and allows full mobility of the four pelvic joints. I can’t stress enough how important it is to walk throughout your pregnancy – walk as much as you can – it promotes both flexibility and stability. And a consistent amount of daily movement, combined with specialist pregnancy Pilates, yoga or exercise classes, can also support length and tone within your muscular structure, keep your pelvis aligned and assist with the engaging and descent of the baby.

Once you are in labour, staying active is just as important, movement – such as gentle walking – will continue to aid your baby’s descent into your pelvis and help your body to stay relaxed. Some top tips for daily movement and exercise that will optimise your baby’s position: Walk every day

Work yourself up to 3-miles a day if you can. If your body doesn’t like it then don’t force it, just do what feels good for you. And do listen to your health professional’s advice if you have PGP or have been advised to rest. Be mindful of jaw release. There is an important relationship between the jaw and the pelvis. Many of us hold tension in our jaw and relaxing this muscle is really important. Start to be more mindful of whether you are gritting your teeth or tensing your jaw muscles. Use your fingers to massage into your jaw muscles for 2-minutes every single day. Begin simple exercises to gentle stretch and mobilise your muscles

Try to do the following exercises every day:

Neck rolls – Roll your head to the right and left 5-10 times.

Elbow circles and arm circles – Bring your hands to your shoulders and make big circles with your elbows, making sure that you are mobilising your shoulder blades as you move.

Then, to mobilise your ribcage, circle your arms and do side bends.

Thoracic rotation – On all fours, bring your right hand to your shoulder and lift your elbow up to the ceiling, allowing your ribcage to rotate with you. Then go the other way. Repeat this movement 5 times on each side.

Calf stretches – Put the ball of your foot onto a rolled-up yoga mat or towel and allow your heel to drop back to the floor. Ensure your knee is kept fairly straight but not locked. Repeat this movement on the other side.

Glute release – Standing up against a wall, take a spiky ball or a tennis ball and massage it into your bum cheek. Your pelvic floor and gluts are really connected, so releasing the glutes can also help to reduce pelvic floor tension. Look for a tight spot at the top of your bum cheek, this is your piriformis which runs from your lower back to the inside of your hip and is often an area of tension.

Glute stretch – Sit on the front of your sit bones with both feet on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee and allow the right knee to fall. Make sure your sit bones stay connected to the chair. Stay very conscious of how your pubic bone feels – if it is aggravated at all, then you may need to skip this one.

Psoas release – Stand with one foot on a stair and allow your other leg to hang, gently swing your leg allowing it to be heavy as it swings. Stay there gently releasing the hip joint for a few minutes then do the other side. Again, be mindful of how your pubic bone feels as single leg work doesn’t work for everyone during pregnancy.

Centred Mums Pregnancy Pilates classes use restorative Pilates and yoga-based movement to address postural changes and demands throughout each trimester. We can help you to maintain strength, connect you to your breath and relieve tension in your body. As we work through the exercises mentioned above, we will help you to increase your understanding of the way your body functions and naturally create space for your baby to move and to grow.

Our pregnancy Pilates classes will introduce you to positions for labour, breathing techniques and other support to prepare your body and mind for your birthing experience and beyond. You will create a new awareness of your pelvic floor and abdominals and create a foundation of deep abdominal strength that will support your baby during your pregnancy and in your postnatal recovery. We have lots of experience in working with pregnancy-related conditions including diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction (including prolapse), pelvic girdle pain, sciatica, back and neck problems and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Please feel free to contact me for any further information. Pilates and Osteopathy go so beautifully together, especially during pregnancy and postnatally. I work with the osteopaths here at Herts Osteopathy often, for the best outcomes for our mutual patients and clients, and feel that women really appreciate and benefit from both.

Here are some links to contact us below..

www.centredmums.com

https://www.instagram.com/centredmumspilates

Email me: hello@centredmums.com

Thank you so much for reading,

Grace Lillywhite.

Founder and Lead Pilates Practitioner at Centred Mums Pilates and Wellbeing, St. Albans.