Get ready for labour with a few pelvic tilts
If you’ve been regularly following our fitness and exercise articles, you’ll already know how important the pelvic tilt is. Similar to pelvic floor exercises, pelvic tilts should be a fundamental part of any pregnancy exercise routine.
Pelvic tilts are a safe way to help you work your abdominal muscles and stretch out the base of your spine, helping relieve lower back and pelvic pain. For this reason, they are recommended at all stages of pregnancy – you can begin them as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Plus, because a pelvic tilt is so gentle, it’s one of the key exercises recommended during the postnatal period to strengthen your abdominal muscles and to help you heal and recover if you’ve had a C-section.
In the third trimester, this simple exercise has a really specific function. Doing pelvic tilts can help encourage the baby to move into the best position for birth, help bring on labour, and help alleviate labour pains.
Get your baby into the right position
The best position for a baby to be in for birth is known as the anterior position. This is where she’s head-down with her back against your tummy. It’s easier for your baby to fit through your pelvis when they are in the anterior position.
A breech birth is when the baby is positioned feet first. If she doesn’t manage to turn herself around before you go into labour, then it’s likely that you’ll need a caesarean delivery. If your baby is in this position, you may feel breathless and experience discomfort in your ribs.
There is also the occiput posterior (OP) position, which is where your baby is head-down but with her front facing your belly. In the OP position, the back of your baby’s head (the hardest part) pushes against your spine. It’s thought that if your baby is in this position, it’s likely to cause a longer labour and intense lower back pain during contractions (and possibly in the time between them as well). But doing pelvic tilts correctly can help reduce this pain.
Pelvic tilts during labour
There are various ways you can perform a pelvic tilt, most of which are recommended for labour. The only position that is unsafe is lying flat on your back. You can do the exercise standing against a wall, but, so that you have enough support, it’s best to do them either seated or on your hands and knees.
Sitting – You can do a pelvic tilt while sitting on a chair, but it’s far easier to do on a fitness ball because the ball will help you achieve a smoother rocking motion. Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the ground. Then tuck you’re the base of your spine under you, sliding your hips forward on the ball. The ball should roll slightly forward with you. Then tilt your hips back, sticking out your bottom and arching your back. Rocking in this way while practising some deep breathing exercises can encourage baby to move towards the cervix and ease pain.
On all fours – This is a firm favourite when preparing for labour. Being on all fours is one of the best positions for reducing back pain and has long been thought to encourage baby to move into the optimum position for birth.
Make sure your wrists are aligned with your shoulders and your knees are aligned with your hips and that you’re looking forward. In this neutral position, the base of your spine should naturally lift up slightly. Now, tuck your bottom down so that you arch your back, and tuck your chin into your chest. Hold for a few seconds, and then slowly straighten your spine, returning to the original position. If going onto your hands and knees is painful, you can try this position using a fitness ball for support.
Start tilting today
The pelvic tilt is considered one of the most beneficial pregnancy exercises because it will serve you well from the beginning of pregnancy all the way through to labour and even in the postnatal period.
This is why you should start them as soon as possible. At this stage, practising regular pelvic tilts can help prepare you and your baby for childbirth, ensuring your labour runs as smoothly as possible. You can ask your doctor or midwife for further advice and guidance on performing pelvic tilts so that you can be sure you’re doing them correctly and experiencing the full benefit and hopefully, they’ll be covered at your antenatal class as well.
Get tilting today, for a strong and healthy pregnancy and birth.