I recently took a fetal positioning class at my midwife’s office. There were a couple of other women there, all about 30 weeks pregnant. It was nice to get to chat with other moms due around the same time as me. I was the only first-time mom of the group, but for all of us it was going to be our first home birth.
One of the biggest reasons for a hospital transfer during a home birth is long labor. It doesn’t happen often, but there are so many ways to ensure labor is as smooth and quick as possible. I’ll be writing a whole post on my short labor research later, but for now I wanted to share with you some moves I learned at the fetal positioning class. They’re easy and it costs nothing to do these simple stretches.
These simple moves help get your baby in the optimal position for birth, head down and on the left side of your uterus. This position gets baby perfectly lined up for his entrance into the world. The sooner and longer you get baby into this position, the quicker (and possibly sooner) your labor will be.
Do these stretches before bed every night. The last exercise of the sequence leaves you lying on your left side for at least ten minutes, which usually is perfect time to drift off to sleep.
Modified Dolphin Pose
This one is the hardest of the poses to get into, but it’s still super simple. Basically you want to kneel on a chair (or your bed) and bend down so your forearms are on the ground. This stretch loosens up the vertical ligaments on your belly. You only need to do three deep breaths in this pose before moving on to the next exercise.
After you finished your dolphin pose, carefully get down onto all fours. Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and your knees are straight under your hips. When you inhale, let your belly pull up towards the ceiling, letting your hips tilt and your back round. On the exhale let your belly drop towards the ground as your hips and butt stick out a little. These aren’t the full yoga cat/cows. Just do as much movement as is comfortable. The most important part is that your hips are getting a nice tilt. Do twenty repetitions, that’s twenty cats and twenty cows.
Laying Stretch with Hip Twist
I like to crawl into bed at this point and use a body pillow for some hip support, but the pillow is totally optional. Lay down on your left side with your left leg and your left arm stretched out. Drape your right leg over your body and let your knee touch the floor (or pillow). I try to get the angle as high as possible without resting my leg on my belly. You’re gonna want to stay in this pose for at least ten minutes. Usually I’m asleep after about five minutes, and will just sleep in this position until it gets uncomfortable.
Aim to do these exercises at least once a day, but if you’re tall 3-4 times a week is plenty. I’ve been doing them for a couple weeks now and my very wiggly baby has stayed almost exclusively on the left side even though he definitely preferred the right side before.
Enjoy this video for step-by-step directions and a demonstration. If you have any questions about these exercises be sure to Ask a Bestie (or your obgyn/midwife). Stay tuned for a post on belly mapping so know exactly where your baby is at any given moment.