2 Types of Squats for birth

September 7, 2016 in Childbirth, Pelvis, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

When I was pregnant for the first time 16 years ago I knew squatting was a good idea to help with birth.  Yet I didn’t know much about how to best squat for birth.  Years later having worked with pregnant and post partum women, I’ve learned a lot I wish I knew back then.  But my births went well so what I did must have helped.  Let me share with you what you really want to do to help open up your pelvis for birth.

Pelvic Motions for Birth

For your pelvis to birth your baby the top of the sacrum first needs to move backwards during the first part of labor

counternutation

and then forwards again during the later part of labor.

 

nutation 2

 

So to help your pelvis do these motions, you can do two different types of squats.

Squatting for Birth

To help open up the top part for the first part of labor squatting with your butt tucked under will help make this happen, like this;

squattingnotgoodcounternutation

Yet so many women sit too much in this posture with pressure on the sacrum so you don’t have to work too hard on this squat other than to strengthen your legs.

 

What you really need to work on is the second type of squat because your sacrum needs more help opening up to get your baby out.  This squat is where you stick your butt out as you bend down like this:

squattinggood

 

Keep working on this last squat for the majority of your pregnancy as your sacrum needs more help opening up like this!

When you start laboring you would benefit from you doing the first squat to help allow your baby into your pelvis. Lifting up on your belly while you do so can help too.  Once you hit the second stage of labor then you want to focus on the second squat as that will help your baby to come on out!

 

So there you have the two different types of squats and when they are most effective during pregnancy and birth!   Squat away!!!

 

3 Signs your Pelvis is Still Birthing after Childbirth

March 26, 2016 in Childbirth, Pelvis, Post Partum, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

3 Signs your Pelvis is Still Birthing

 

Your pelvis may still be trying to birth your baby!  In my women’s health physical therapy practice I have discovered a very common pattern that a woman’s pelvis goes into to give birth. I’ve seen it in most every woman I’ve worked on in the last year since I became aware of it.  Only a hand full of women have not presented with this pattern. There is a certain way the pelvis opens up to help the baby get out.

 

This pattern can get stuck in a women’s pelvis, sometimes for years.   I first discovered this in my aunt who had a very traumatic birth with her first son who was 47 at the time.   So for 47 years her pelvis has been in an open birthing position.  One would think that the bones of the pelvis just go right back into place after the baby comes out.  In some women it does.  In others, which I’m finding is more and more common, it doesn’t.  The one thing I know that is keeping the pelvis from going back to its normal position is trauma!

 

Trauma can keep the pelvis stuck in the birthing position.   Until the trauma is released and the body and pelvis knows it’s safe then the pelvis can come back together to its normal position.   Trauma can be experienced at any time during the birthing process but most typically is occurs during the pushing phase when the pelvis is already open and ready to let the baby out.

 

Anytime a woman gets to the point where she wants to quit, doesn’t feel she can go on, feels out of control, or maybe gets threatened with a c-section a trauma response can happen in the body.

 

A typical trauma response in the body is to fight or flight the situation but since a birthing woman can’t do those two it does the only thing left which is to freeze. This freezing happens while the pelvis is in an opened, birthing position. Until the trauma is released the body tends to hold onto this pattern.

 

I can see how a woman may not recognize this trauma or that her pelvic is still birthing. After opening up so wide to get the baby out, all sense of normalcy, what was felt like before birth, is gone. There is no ground zero in your body once it’s birthed a baby. Also seeing and holding your baby in your arms for the first time is enough to distract anyone from what they’ve just gone through.   The reward of being with your baby seems to outweigh or override any negative feelings felt during the birthing process.

 

But I do know that women can feel a difference in their body after the pelvis has been helped back into its pre-pregnancy state. You must address both the physical position of the pelvis along with releasing any held emotions and trauma in the tissues.

There are 3 signs that I’ve discovered that are clues that your pelvis is still birthing. Let’s see if you have any of them.

 

#1. Your Pelvis is Tilted

The first sign your pelvis is still in a birthing pattern is when you lay down on your back on a hard surface (a soft bed may not the best surface to check this out on) is to check out how level are your hip bones, those little bumps on either side of your pelvis. Are they even? Or do you notice that your right side ilium, or hip bone, is higher than the left?

The typical birthing pattern is the right side will be higher than the left. When lying down on your back the pelvis will be tilted to the left as seen in this picture.

 

Position of pelvis after childbirth

Position of pelvis after childbirth

The reason for this is the sacrum gets jammed up and over to the right during the birth process.

 

Here is a normal posterior view of a sacrum prior to birth.

 

Normal position of sacrum in pelvis

Normal position of sacrum in pelvis

This is how the sacrum shifts to the right for birth.

Sacrum shifted to right

Sacrum shifted to right

This shifting of the sacrum to the right is also why so many women have right-sided low back pain after childbirth.   The sacroiliac joint gets jammed and the sacrum can’t move as freely as it should which is why the pain is created. Getting the sacrum back into proper place alleviates the pain.

There is a two-step process I do to help mobilize the sacrum back into midline again. I haven’t figured out how to help women do this on their own yet! Stay tuned….

 

#2. Sitting Unevenly or Uncomfortably

For the baby to be able to come out of the pelvis the sits bones or ischiums need to splay out to the side. Ideally they splay out evenly.   But depending on the baby’s pathway through the pelvis or the birthing position used, one ischium may be more splayed out to the side. Birthing in a side lying position can limit the mobility of the lower sided pelvis (on the bed) and cause more movement in the upper side (ceiling side). Birthing on your back with two separate people holding your legs at different angles can also potentially cause an imbalance in your pelvis.

If the pelvis remains in this birthing position, sitting may seem different. It can feel uneven, or awkward.   This is not from swelling or tenderness in your perineum, as that can cause discomfort and or pain. If you don’t have pain but sitting still feels weird, it’s because your bones are in a different position than before your birth.

#3. Feeling Ungrounded or Discombobulated

One of the things I ask the moms that I find with birthing pelvis’ is “What are you feeling in your body and in your life?” The most common reply is “ungrounded, not myself or discombobulated”

When we realize the pelvis is our energetic foundation for our body and life, when it is open and unbalanced we don’t have a solid foundation. In one of my clients it felt like energetically she was walking around with her energy just flowing out full blast, like both faucets handles turned on and water spilling out with no container to hold it.  When you can’t hold and contain your energy within you, if can feel a little unsettling. Most new moms may attribute this to figuring out how to care for a newborn, not that she has no energetic container.

 

So if you find you have one, two or all of these signs you now know what’s going on. Your pelvis is stuck in a birthing position and needs help coming back together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hemorrhoids, Fissures and Tears, OH MY!

February 9, 2016 in Childbirth, Pelvic Floor, Post Partum, Pregnancy

Hemorrhoids, Fissures and Tears, OH MY!

Let’s talk about something! It’s not a pleasant subject. It’s the nasty little triad of issues one might face after having a vaginal birth.  I’m talking about the after effects and trauma that can happen to your bottom. It’s rarely discussed before a birth and I believe there is a reason for that.   The physical injury to the pelvic floor area from a vaginal birth can cause significant damage that leads to some rather unpleasant, uncomfortable and down right painful issues some women have to face.   I’m talking about hemorrhoids, fissures and tears that occur in the perineum during, for hemorrhoids, and after birth for all three. There are some things you need to know to help you deal with these uncomfortable issues if you find you have developed these.

HEMORRHOIDS

Let’s start with hemorrhoids!

Hemorrhoids are a swelling and inflammation of veins in or around the anus and lower part of the rectum. They can be painful and itchy. Hemorrhoids are very common in pregnancy as the increased weight from carrying the baby causes greater pressures on the pelvic floor. Also prenatal vitamins and hormones cause a slowing down of your colon and swelling of your veins, two factors contributing to constipation that can lead to hemorrhoids.

So to avoid hemorrhoids you’ll want to avoid constipation and the bearing down that usually goes along with it.

The first step is to avoid being constipated.

Diet has a huge implication on constipation. (Please consult a nutritionist for greater help with your diet) By eating more fiber rich foods you can help keep things moving in your colon. Raw veggies are a great way to increase fiber or adding flax seeds to your foods can help too. Be careful in adding too much fiber at first if things aren’t moving well especially if you aren’t doing this next thing.

That is, drinking enough water. Increasing your water intake, especially when you are breastfeeding, will bring more water to help keep things flowing through your colon. Moving your body will also do the same.

The next step it to use good toileting habits. When you sit on the toilet, you want to make sure you keep your back straight and lean forward. Avoid sitting slumped on the toilet. It can help to have your knees higher than your hips. There is the squotty potty chair you can purchase to help with this or you can use two yoga blocks, toilet paper rolls or a big fat can of tomatoes and put your feet upon.

To relax your pelvic floor you can try making different sounds to see which sound bulges your pelvic floor downward more easily. Take a deep breath and say “Grrr!” or “Shhhh” and see which one lengthens your pelvic floor. Use that sound during your next bowel movement to help move things down and out so your pelvic floor stays relaxed!

Once a hemorrhoid is in place you need to decrease any excess pressure on this tissue in order for it to heal. With all the bearing down that happens in birth the rectal tissues need to learn to come back up in and inside again. That can only happen when you avoid bearing down during a bowel movement after your birth. It’s important to allow your stool to pass on it’s own without you having to force it out. Any forcefulness will only exacerbate your hemorrhoids.

Also when dealing with hemorrhoids after birth, I find you also have to address the soft tissue in your vaginal and anal openings.   We’ll cover how to do this later in this article.

Around the anal opening is a sphincter muscle. It’s very common for this muscle to have small “knots” in it from the birth, especially if you tore. These knots don’t allow the muscles to expand evenly to allow your stool to come out. When a hemorrhoid is present, most likely there is a restriction or “knot” in these tissues that can prevent the hemorrhoid from healing. They can also lead to an even greater problem and that is a fissure!

FISSURES

A fissure is a open tear inside the rectal tissues.   Fissures have to be one of THE most painful conditions to recover from after birth.   The problem with this condition is the tear has a hard time healing because it gets reopened every time you have a bowel movement.   It makes having a bowel movement EXTREMELY painful! Some women, who have a fissure, report having chills, breaking out into a sweat and even their whole body shaking after having a bowel movement. The pain afterwards can last for hours. When dealing with a fissure for any length of time the anticipation of a bowel movement can bring fear and greater tightness to the pelvic floor area, which creates a vicious cycle that is hard to break. It’s no fun at all!

There is one thing that has helped my clients when dealing with a fissure and that is to massage their perineum and anal sphincter prior to a bowel movement. Usually there is increased tension in the anal sphincter that is on the opposite side of where the fissure lies. When you release this knot prior to a bowel movement it can lessen the pressures placed on the fissure and allow it to heal a little bit easier.   Stay tuned to learn how to massage your anal sphincter area.

 

TEARING IN YOUR PERINEUM

The third issue that is closely related to hemorrhoids and fissures is tearing in your perineum. Unfortunately tearing from birth is very common for women. Scar tissue forms to help heal a tear. Scar tissue is not as flexible as normal tissue and restricts the tissue mobility in the area. This can inhibit a stools flow out the anal sphincter and contribute to the development and prevent the healing of hemorrhoids and fissures. Mobilizing this scar tissue can help soften the tissues and allow easier flow with less pressures, helping both issues heal.

 

Caring for your Perineum After Birth

So what’s a new mama to do to help her perineum after birth?

Massage this area!

What do you do?  It’s simple!

Take your thumb pad and place it just inside your vaginal opening. Your knuckle should stay on the outside. Place your index finger on your anal sphincter. Start on one side as far as you can go and pinch the two fingers together and see if it feels soft and mushy or hard and resistant to compression. You want your tissues to be soft and supple. Work your way along toward the opposite side and see where the tissues are resistant to compression.   Where there is resistance you can apply pressure by gently compressing the area between your fingers while breathing into the area at the same time. Hold this pressure until you feel the tissues soften and release.

Scar tissue can create thickening and resistance to mobility.   Compression and pressure can help release this but sometimes scar tissue needs more. If you find scar tissue that is not releasing to pressure there can be an emotion stuck in there. Honoring that feeling and releasing whatever emotion is there is needed before it can let go. To read more about how scar tissue and emotions are connected check out this blog post.

Pinching between the anal opening and the vagina works on the upper half of the anal sphincter. For the lower part take your index finger and apply pressure around the sphincter from 3 to 9:00 if you think of it as a clock face. Check to see if you feel any spot more resistant than the others. If you do gently apply pressure with your finger in a downward motion and just hold it until you feel the spot release.

Massaging this area before every bowel movement can allow the tissues to expand more easily for your stool. This can help keep some of the excess pressure off your fissure area and potentially help it heal. Decreasing any resistant or thickened tissues helps to normalize the tissues so your stool flows through more easily.

There’s so much more to all of this that if you don’t find relief from doing the above, please go see a women’s health physical therapist or a holistic pelvic care specialist to get some help. You can find a practitioner near you by checking out these websites:   MoveForwardPT.com or WildFeminine.com

 

 

Why Don’t I Love My Baby?

March 22, 2015 in Childbirth, Post Partum, Pregnancy


crying baby
Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

“Who is this strange little being lying on my chest?”

“You don’t feel familiar.”

For 9 months I have longed to meet you and see your face, yet I look down at you and wonder to whom you belong. “You don’t feel like you are mine.”

I thought I would instantly fall in love with you but I’m not! Something must be wrong with me. I’m a bad mom. How can I not love my newborn babe?

This frightening scenario happens all too often for new moms. When new moms suffer a disconnection from their baby, something traumatic has happened during the birth process.  I call this a traumatic response.   In the pelvis energy gets stuck and locked up.     This can lead to urinary leakage, difficulty with bowel movements, pain with intercourse, a general feeling of ungroundedness or not feeling like yourself.  Most heartbreakingly of all this traumatic response can block the bonding process between babe and mom leaving her to feel like a bad mom.

I got to experience first hand the healing that can happen when moms get the support they need to unlock this energy and fall deeply in love with their baby.

Sue (name has been changed) came to see me 2 weeks after the birth of her second baby, a boy. She was complaining about not feeling as connected to this baby as she was to her first baby, a daughter she delivered 2 years ago. She fell instantly in love with her daughter who ended up being a very easy baby. Her son was a totally different story.   He was very fussy and was having difficulty digesting his meals.

I asked Sue about the difference she experienced between her two births.   She reported that this second baby had a much more difficult time coming out. Her first birth was uneventful and progressed smoothly. As Sue described her experience with the second birth there were several points during the process where she experienced a traumatic response.

At one point during the first stage of labor the baby got stuck and Sue wasn’t progressing.   Her intelligent, intuitive doula had her get into a position to help reposition the baby and then things were able to progress. Before that repositioning though Sue doubted her ability to continue. Any doubt in your ability to birth can trigger a traumatic response.  We can avoid this traumatic response when we work with a conscious birth professional who can help us give voice to our doubts and move beyond them.

When Sue was in the hospital feeling the need to push, the nurses and staff were telling her to hold off because the doctor wasn’t there yet, even though her body was doing it anyway!   This is an interruption to the flow of the birthing energy. Trying to resist the incredible urge that your body is automatically doing is traumatic because you can’t!

As I was tuning into Sue’s energy field it was very “buzzy” and full of static. There wasn’t any calmness around her in her field.  The energy in her pelvic space was frozen and locked up.   Sue’s baby felt very rigid and tense and wasn’t settled. Both Sue and baby were ungrounded and disconnected.

As we gently cleared the trauma and reprocessed the birth Sue joyfully reconnected back into her body.

After our session Sue felt more grounded, calm and connected. As she breastfed her baby tears started flowing as she said, “I finally feel like he’s mine. This is the first time I will be able to bring my baby home with me.”

Sue’s confidence in her mothering of this new babe was restored.   She left my office with more love for her baby and the ability to be a better mom.

If you are struggling with any of this, please reach out no matter where you live.  You can schedule a Skype session with me and we can get you unblocked, more connected to your baby so you can be the mom you were meant to be!

Schedule Here Now

Image courtesy of Tom Clare at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Tom Clare at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Valuing Your Body and Instincts During Birth

January 10, 2014 in Childbirth, Pelvis, Pregnancy

 

Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time for you and your body.  So many changes occur to your body as it swells to unrecognizable shape and proportion.  Then comes the uncertainty of birth.  How is this baby supposed to get out?  Really?  You can read all the books, watch all the videos and attend all the childbirth classes you want to prepare yourself for the anticipated day of your babies arrival.  Yet nothing can really prepare you for what you are going to experience.  Because no one really knows what YOUR experience is going to be of how YOUR baby chooses to come out.

 

This may sound kind of gloomy but let me reassure you of one thing.  That baby will find it’s way out one way or another.  The more prepared you are for your birth of what you CAN expect will help you relax into the process of what needs to occur. Read all the books, watch all the videos and take all those classes.  Know what needs to happen in your body for birth and what you truly desire to happen for you and your baby.  Then let it all go!

 

Letting Go In Labor

 

That’s right, let it go.  Because birth is really about letting go.  Allowing the process to happen.  Your body is designed to get your baby out.  When we can really connect into that sacred space deep within us you will know exactly what you need to do to help get your baby out.  Many women would benefit from really finding this space of knowingness within so they can listen to it during labor.  Yet most modern day hospitals and OB’s aren’t designed/trained to help women find this inner wisdom.

 

 

Giving Up your Power During Birth

 

We give our power over to our doctor and disconnect from our inner knowingness.  So many women in my practice have shared how they had a cervical check and were only 6-7 cm dilated and shortly after needed to push but was told not to push because they couldn’t be at 10 already.  When we listen to the people around us and not to our body’s signal, because we don’t know any better, more of that disconnect occurs.  When you try to stop from pushing when your uterus is pushing your baby out it creates all kinds of energetic blocks in your pelvis.  Your baby gets the confusing message, come out, no don’t come out.  There is a holding energy that anchors in your pelvis.  You lose that trust of your body that you once had or maybe never really had.

 

It’s challenging for a first time mom to understand what is going on in her body during labor to really trust herself to know.  Yet the more you can connect into your inner knowingness the more you can question other peoples judgements of your situation.  Your body knows how to do this so if you feel like pushing listen to your body.  Value the wisdom that your body knows how to get this baby out.

 

I saw one mom you came in for a post partum session and I kept feeling the energetic pattern of the babies head going into her right hip while there was a twisting of her upper body to the left.  When I asked about this she reported her husband was holding her right hand up by her shoulder while she was pushing.  Instinctually she let go of his hand and reached over to the left side bedrail and pushed.  Then her baby shifted into the center of her pelvis to come out.  Yet there was fear when this happened and this pattern was stuck in her body.  Identify and releasing the fear allowed the pattern in her body to let go.  Twisting her upper body to the left put some torque into her pelvis to shift the baby over into the outlet to get the baby out.  When I explained to her why she did what she did, she was able to value her body’s instinctual knowingness better.  YOUR BODY KNOWS!

 

So how do you connect to your inner knowingness?

 

It starts with a practice of quieting yourself and really connecting into your body.  Connect into your pelvis.  Feel the baby down in your pelvis.  Feel any sensations you feel in your body.  Become still and quiet and just feel what you feel inside of you.  Where do you get drawn?  Bring your breathe down to your pelvis or wherever you get drawn in your body.  The more you can practice this now the easier you will do so during your birth. During labor clear all the distractions around you and connect inside of your body.  See and sense what your body wants to do and get into that position.

 

A colleague of mine was in labor with her second child and she was feeling like she was losing her hold on the contractions and not getting anywhere as her labor wasn’t progressing.  She kicked everyone out of her room and quieted herself and went down and connected into her pelvis.  She got up and knelt on her knees with her butt up in the air and head down and stayed there till she felt something change inside.  Then she was able to continue on with her labor and push her baby out.  She did not know of inversion before this but this is a great technique to rotate a baby whose head is coming into your pelvis in a more challenging way, (OP or occiput posterior).  She got this information from her body and knew what to do.

 

So whenever you are feeling stuck with anything in life, whether it be birth or anything else, connecting into your pelvis and womb space can offer you a creative answer or direction.  If you need any support in feeling this connection I’d love to help you out.  I am amazed at the significant changes in my life since I’ve really embraced and reconnected to my pelvis.  It’s a powerful area and worthy of our attention.

 

 

 

 

Is Your Due Date Coming and Your Baby Not Dropping?

October 24, 2013 in Pelvic Floor, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Is your baby due in a couple of weeks and he’s not engaging into your pelvis?  Feeling your baby should be dropping down into your pelvis a little more than he is?

There is one major thing you need to check to see if it is what is stopping your baby from coming on down.

 

CHECK OUT YOUR PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLESpelvic floor muscles

 

I encourage every woman, about to give birth, to assess her pelvic floor muscle tone.  (Actually every woman should check their pelvic floor muscle tone, whether you are having a baby or not!)   This is more than just perineal massage.  This is about making sure your pelvic floor muscles have the ability to release and stretch.  When doing your perineal massage, you need to make sure your pelvic floor muscles have spring to them.  They should give and release like when you push down on a trampoline, it gives way and then comes back up.
Imagine the opening of your vagina is a clock you are facing.  At 12:00 is the urethra and clitoris and a 6:00 is the perineal body, junction between the anus and the vaginal opening.  From 3 to 6 :00 and from 6 to 9:00 are your muscles.  If you push down and out to the side at a diagonal you will see whether your muscles give or not.  They should give easily to your pressure and spring back up when you release.

 

PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES AS STOP LIGHT FOR BABY

 

I liken the pelvic floor muscles to a stop light, signaling the baby on what to do.  If you have too much tone in them, as in red light tone, that’s telling the baby to not come down this way.    Red light tone is where the muscles have zero deformability to them.  You press on them and they are bricks and don’t budge.  This may be caused by a passive tension in the muscles from our unconscious holding or clenching of these muscles from an injury.  Actively we can clench these muscles if we want to stop gas from passing.  The problem is so many women are walking around with tension in these muscles and they don’t even know it.

 

Have you ever caught yourself with your shoulders up by your ears and once you were aware of it you were able to relax them back down.  That same kind of tension can be found in our pelvic floor muscles.  The only difference is we don’t have the visual cue of our shoulders to let us know the tension is there.  But we do know what is there if we assess the pelvic floor muscles.  When you find increased tension in the muscles, and it can be one side or both sides, simply put a gentle pressure on the muscle and breathe down into it.  With awareness, passively held tension can release.   If it’s resistant to release you may need some help from a Women’s Health physical therapist.

 

Red light tone can also be caused from a fall on the tailbone that happened anytime in your life. Having the tailbone offset can create tension in the muscles keeping it in that position.   Getting your tailbone back into alignment is not something you can do on your own.  I haven’t found a way yet to help someone do this to herself so again seeing a women’s health PT can be very helpful.  (You can find a WHPT near you at www.MoveForwardPT.com)

 

I’ve seen a couple of women come in with a baby’s head off to one side, heading into the hip, instead of the pelvic inlet.  In evaluating their pelvic floor muscles the opposite side pelvic floor muscles had increased tone, like it was repelling the baby’s head from that side.  As soon as those muscles released the baby’s head shifted to midline.   In one case the baby’s positioning change was so dramatically I wished I had taken before and after pictures of her belly.

 

Yellow light tone in the pelvic floor muscles, means there is some tension and resistance to the tissues to being stretched but it can do it a little bit.  Yellow light tone just means the baby will have a little bit more resistance coming through.  If you work with this tension you should be able to let go and get your tissues into a green light state.

 

Green light tone in your pelvic floor muscles is the go for it signal for the baby to come on through!  This is the kind of tone in the muscles you want with no tension in them at all.  You press on them and they spring and stretch easily and pop right back up when you release that pressure.  Babies love green light tone in the muscles!

 

So what kind of tone are you carrying around in your pelvic floor?  Assess yourself and find out now, before you go into labor.  If you do find tension in the muscles work with them to see if you can release it.  You’ll be so glad you did and your baby will be too!

 

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