I was reading an article recently by the fabulous Gail Tully, from Spinning Babies, and I had an 'aha' moment! More than 7 years ago while I was in labour with my 2nd son, I remember sitting on the edge of the bed, with my feet towards the floor. I kept arching my back and leaning backward during a few contractions, over about 30 minutes, just before he was born. I never really 'got' why I did that until now!
When I read the article...I'll explain it now in a second...I thought to myself, 'jeepers, I wonder if that what I was doing before Sebastian arrived'.
Gail's article was about Walcher’s Position. This can help to engage (engagement means the widest part of the baby’s head has dipped below the entrance to the pelvis (the brim)) a baby that is still high and hasn't entered the pelvis yet. The baby may be stuck at the brim or inlet (entrance) of the pelvis, and needs help to engage. Getting into Walcher's position, and staying there during a few contractions is what can help baby descend.
What is Walcher's position? It is in essence when you sit on the very edge of the bed and let the legs hang down, so that the weight of the legs and the belly hang forward, so that it helps to draw open the symphysis pubis (pubic joint), and gently moves it away from mama's spine. So it creates more room for the baby's head to get into the pelvis.
Perhaps my Sebastian needed help to engage and get into the pelvis, and I just went with what my body needed as I'm pretty in tune with it. For most 1st timers, your baby will begin to engage around the 38-week mark, but on baby number 2 or subsequent, baby can engage during labour itself.
I'm ALL about helping women get babies into a great birthing position so that you can make birth shorter and easier...and hey, who doesn't want that?! Your lifestyle all during your pregnancy can have an enormous impact on how your baby lies inside, and therefore can impact the length of your 1st stage of labour.
What other positions help to engage baby's head?
Kneeling and lunging opens the brim, which is why I do so much of this in my Yoga classes and in my monthly online membership site, The Club.
A backbend will also open the brim...but you are highly unlikely to do this unless you have a strong yoga practice during your pregnancy.
What closes the brim of the pelvis and makes it even harder for baby to descend? Slouching...so get up ladies and move that body!
If you'd like help getting baby into a good birthing position, feeling comfortable and strong during your pregnancy, and having an active, short labour, check out The Empowered Birth, the 5-month complete pregnancy and antenatal preparation program. Our weekly check-ins, LIVE Yoga & Fitness classes, and Pre-Recorded education bundles will give you everything you need for the pregnancy and birth you desire.
Until next time,
Helen Plass is a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist, and Yoga Instructor, working with women and their birthing partners to achieve a comfortable, healthy & happy journey into Pregnancy, birth and Motherhood. She is known for her very practical & non-judgmental approach to pregnancy and the crazy times of motherhood. Check out all her communication at NurtureMamas.com.