Compared with women of previous generations, we lead much more inactive lives. More women than ever drive cars or sit at a desk for long periods each day. These sitting positions, especially sat in a car seat, can make your baby settle in what is known as the posterior position. This is when your baby’s back is around your back.
As pregnancy advances this may cause you back ache. If your baby is in the posterior position when you go into labour, then you may find that your first stage contractions are working to try and turn your baby rather than helping your cervix dilate. You may get very tired and your back may ache. If the baby doesn’t turn then it is more difficult for him or her to come down the birth canal in second stage and you are more likely to need an instrumental delivery.
This can all be avoided by encouraging your baby to lie in the anterior position –which is with their spine around the front of your body. Doing the following exercise, for at least 5-10 minutes every day, will not only help your baby settle in the anterior position, but also help tone your abdominal muscles and alleviate many types of lower backache. While it is never to late to start doing this exercise – it may even be helpful in labour – it is never too early to begin. If you start doing this early on, it becomes part of your daily routine.
The exercise – All Fours Position
Get into all fours position on the floor.
Make sure that your back is flat. You may need to get your partner to check this. Make yourself as comfortable as you can – when you first begin this exercise you may find that you don’t feel all that comfortable. Don’t worry – your body will get used to it with practise. Explore what kind of movements you feel like doing – you may want to crawl around the room. Crawling can help ease backaches. You may want to stay on the spot and rock forwards and backwards. You may want to circle your hips.
Cat Stretch Position
After a while, begin to move into what is called the Cat Stretch. As you can imagine, this movement is rather like a cat arching its back.
Begin by checking your back is flat and your neck is in line with your spine. Focus your attention on breathing out deeply and as you do so, begin to drop your head so that your neck begins to extend. Push down into your hands and begin to lift and arch the whole spine from the neck down as you continue breathing out. At the end of the out breath you should be in the full stretch – like a cat arching its back.
You may be aware of your abdominal muscles working. You may also notice your baby being tilted away from your back. As you breathe in, flatten the spine from the base of the spine working up to the neck so that you end up in the flat back position. As you breathe out again, go into the arching movement, breathing in, go into the flattening movement, and so on for as long as you want. Try to do this movement at least 5 times, slowly– but you can do it more if you feel more comfortable.
Knee to Chest Position
After you have done this, ease forward onto your forearms, let your head rest on your arms and let your bottom be up in the air. This is known as the knee to chest position. Make sure that your lower back is not hollowing. Breathe out and rest, being aware of your breathing.