by Camille Mulchi, BS, RYT, CCE, Doula
A question I am often asked by prenatal yoga-mamas centers around which poses tend to be some of the most effective for labor and birth. While my answer is usually something along the lines of “whichever ones are intuitively working for you in each moment,” I did finally give in the request to put something down on paper. So to that end, here are…
Camille’s Five Favorite “Laborasanas”
Cat Pose/Hands & Knees position (pelvic tilts): This can help reduce pain associated with back labor, while encouraging baby to shift into a more optimal position for birth (even better when done with a birth ball to take pressure off wrists/arms and add a bit of fundal pressure.) A flowing version of this pose (sinking all the way down to the heels) is also helpful in positioning baby, as well as being rhythmic for mama. The pelvis is nice and wide in this position too, making it a good one to deliver in if baby needs a little extra room.
Cobbler’s pose: Gently opens pelvis/groin area. Once in the active phase of labor, this can encourage the cervix to continue dilating. This is also simply an excellent pose for women’s health in general.
Squatting: Promotes optimal positioning of baby (“drive angle”) in addition to increasing the strength of contractions (more pressure from baby’s head on cervix.) This pose also provides a gravity advantage and helps alleviate back pain. The pelvis is in the widest possible diameter in the squatting pose (can actually increase pelvic capacity by 2cm.) Squatting contractions may be stronger, more efficient and less painful. It may shorten the pushing stage and can help when mama doesn’t have a strong urge to push. There are many great variations on this pose—find the one that works for you in the moment (i.e., if baby is suspected to be asynclitic, the dangle squat can lengthen the torso, giving them an opportunity to adjust position). Some think that it’s best to spend the opening phase of labor in a modified squat of no deeper than 90 degrees at the hips and that the deep squatting can be used during the pushing phase.
Lion’s Breath: Moves energy down into the pelvis and keeps the throat open, thereby helping open the pelvic floor. Partner can remind mama to keep her sounds/tones low and earthy—when we start to get a higher pitch (and we ALL do at some point—feeling like we want to escape our bodies and the intense sensations of birth), we are actually closing the cervix.
Toilet-sitting: Not exactly a yoga pose, but still one of my absolute favorites! We have a natural inclination to relax the pelvic floor muscles here, and it has similar benefits to a squat, but is nice and supported. Sitting backwards on the toilet tends to offer the best ‘drive angle’ and gravity advantage—you can also prop pillows on the tank and rest fairly comfortably between contractions, conserving needed energy.
Tremendous blessings for a beautiful, empowering birth—however it unfolds and however you define it! Namaste.
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