The cobbler pose: essential for labour
As you enter the final weeks of your pregnancy, you should be thinking more and more about the best ways to prepare your body for labour. You can, of course, continue your regular low-intensity exercise routine, as any kind of mobility will help you get ready. But there are some specific exercises that will help make the birthing process easier on your body.
The cobbler pose, also known as the tailor pose or tailor sitting, is a great position to help open your pelvis and loosen your hip joints for birth. Often practised in yoga (you may well have already encountered it if you’ve been attending an antenatal yoga class), the cobbler pose is named after the way cobblers in India traditionally sit to complete their work.
Why do it?
The pelvis and associated muscles and ligaments are put under great stress during childbirth, so any exercise that improves flexibility is worth doing. Greater strength and flexibility may also reduce the likelihood of problems post-labour as well.
The cobbler pose focuses on maintaining a straight back, and can help improve your posture, which can ease lower back pain, something that you’re likely to want to know about during the third trimester when your bump gets very heavy.
This calming seated pose uses very little effort, which means it can be a great way of relaxing, allowing you to focus on your breathing as you gently stretch these important muscles. All these advantages mean that, similar to the butterfly pose (another yoga move worth learning for pregnancy), the cobbler pose can be done during labour itself to help ease the pain and aid relaxation.
How to do the cobbler pose safely
Sit with your back straight against a wall and begin with your legs stretched out in front of you. Now bring your feet in towards your pelvis so that the soles are touching each other and your knees are stretched out to the side. Hold your ankles in your hands and move your heels closer to your groin as far as you can without experiencing discomfort.
If you need to place your feet further away from you, so your legs create more of a diamond shape, this is fine. Gently press your knees down towards the floor, but don’t force them down. If you want to give your inner thighs more of a stretch, you can use your fingers to separate your feet as if you’re opening a book, making sure the bottom sides of your feet (the spine of the book) keep touching.
Continue to take deep breaths at a relaxed pace. Focus on sitting tall, keeping your spine long.
You can sit in this position whenever possible throughout the day for as long as you remain comfortable. To help you sit for longer try sitting on a folded towel, cushion, or yoga mat. This will help raise your pelvis and should relieve some of the strain on your pelvis and hips, and it will help make sure your knees are below hip level.
If you find your knees are raised too high and the pose feels too uncomfortable to hold, you may want to prop up your knees to relieve tension in the hips. If you do, try to make sure both knees are propped up evenly.
Keep your back straight and make sure your posture is correct, especially if you’re not using a wall for support. A rounded spine may make the pose uncomfortable.
Once you’ve held the pose for as long as you can, relax. Rest for a few breaths, and then try the cobbler pose again.
Once you’ve practised this position a few times, you may find it so relaxing that you start using it as your standard sitting pose. This will be very good for you and for baby because you’ll be helping stretch your pelvis and preparing your body for labour, and it won’t even seem like exercise.