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What About The Active In Active Birth?

Registered Nurse and Doula Caitlin Dyer of Mother Down Under ( shares her tips on active birth. Always seek medical advice for your specific circumstances.

You might have heard of active birth.

You might even know that the principles of active birth are upright, forward leaning, and open.  That is upright in terms of your position, forward leaning in terms of your posture, and open in terms of your pelvis.

However it is slightly more complex than that…especially when it comes to opening your pelvis. 

There is no one movement that will open your entire pelvis.

Your pelvis has three levels.  At different stages of labour, you want different levels of your pelvis to open.  And each level opens in different ways.

Let’s break it down.

1. The Inlet

This is the top of your pelvis.  This is the first part of the pelvis that your baby has to navigate so this is the first part of the pelvis to open.

It opens when you rotate your legs out and tuck your bum under.

Deep wide knee squats with a rounded back.

On all fours with wide knees rocking back into a cat stretch.

Sitting on an exercise ball with knees out.

2. The Midpelvis

As the name implies, this is the middle of your pelvis. Your baby spends much of labour finding their way through the bony structures in the midpelvis.

It opens best with asymmetrical or side to side movements.

Swaying – either standing or sitting on an exercise ball or on all fours.

Side lunges – either standing or sitting on an exercise ball or kneeling while supporting your upper body on an exercise ball.

Standing in a forward leaning position with one foot supported by a low stool.

Curb walking (one foot in the gutter and one foot on the curb) or walking up a staircase sideways.

3.  The Outlet

The outlet is the bottom of your pelvis.  You want this part of your pelvis to open when you are pushing.

It opens when your knees are in and your ankles are out (internal rotation of your femurs).

When you are pushing, you also want to make sure there is ample room for your sacrum to open (it will actually move backwards towards the end of labour).  And for this reason, you want to try to stay off your back!

On all fours with knees in.

Squatting with knees in.

Sidelying with your partner supporting your upper leg, holding in it a knee in – ankle out orientation.

On your back (but with a pillow or blanket creating a space for your sacrum) with legs elevated in a knees in – ankles out position.

4. The Pelvic Floor

Don’t forget it is not just your bones that need to open and allow your baby through…your pelvic floor needs to stretch as well!

Your pelvic floor opens best when you are relaxed and breathing.

Relaxing your jaw. When you clench your jaw, your pelvic floor also tends to clench.  Which of course is the opposite of what we want it to do! 

Diaphragmatic breathing.  When you inhale, you lengthen and stretch your pelvic floor.  When you exhale, you shorten and contract your pelvic floor.  Plus holding your breath can cause your pelvic floor to tense up and tighten.

Toilet sitting.  We are used to relaxing our pelvic floor on the toilet so sitting on the toilet is a great way to ensure you aren’t holding on to tension in your pelvic floor.  This is why the toilet is sometimes referred to as the dilation station!  Plus, when your bladder is full, it prevents your baby from moving down and through your pelvis…so sitting on the toilet is a good idea anyway!

Rebozo techniques.  Rebozo is a Mexican tradition.  It is a cultural emblem and an integral part of the daily life of women.  It is used by Mexican midwives to support women throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.  One technique that you can do with a rebozo is known as “shaking the apple tree” and it is extremely effective at encouraging the pelvic floor to relax and release. 

This might seem overwhelming but remember you won’t have to think about this in labour!

The beauty of birth is that your body knows exactly what to do and your body will prompt you through the active birth process.

But, when in doubt, get up and move!

Caitlin Dyer runs the Positive Birth Program in Brisbane and online. Get 20% off the online course with code ActiveTruth

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