Relax the Pelvic Door for a Safer, Easier Birth

February 16, 2022

Training tips for a gentler, safer childbirth.

Is it possible to avoid tearing during birth? Many women have understandable fears about what will happen to their bodies during childbirth. Will I tear? Will the doctor need to cut me? Will I ever be the same? There is a key technique you can practice during pregnancy to facilitate a safe, smooth entry of your baby into the world. Starting today, you can teach yourself to effectively ‘open the door’ of your pelvic floor while pushing for an easier, gentler labor. This simple strategy can help you minimize tearing during birth and push more efficiently.

Every day as you perform your Core Compressions, you are strengthening your push muscles for the big day. This is great! And it can be a good opportunity to consciously relax and ‘open the door’ of your pelvic floor. But sometimes it’s difficult to tell if you’re truly relaxing "down there"… and in cases of prolapse, urinary stress incontinence, pelvic weakness, and most of the pelvic issues that tend to occur after one or more pregnancies... we advise you to perform a Kegel with every Core Compression, drawing both the pelvic floor and the abdominal muscles "up and in" as you exhale. So what is the best time and place to practice this muscle coordination of relaxing the pelvic floor as you engage your push muscles (the upper abs - including the upper obliques, the upper rectus abdominis, and the upper transverse abdominis)?

Poop better to push better!

Believe it or not, every bowel movement is an ideal dress rehearsal for the big day! The same primary muscles are involved in both elimination and birth. Furthermore, with each bowel movement, you’re left with visible ‘proof’ that you’ve relaxed the sphincter muscle. The below technique is especially helpful if you’re constipated, and it has the happy side effect of preventing hemorrhoids. Follow these simple steps every time you have a bowel movement, and you’ll pave the way to avoid tearing during birth for a safer, easier labor and delivery!

Step 1: While sitting on the toilet, elevate your feet 12+ inches off the floor. The most accessible way to achieve this usually involves balancing your feet on a wastebasket or step stool. This helps your body approximate a deep squat, which naturally opens the pelvic outlet 28%.

Step 2: Lean slightly forward while keeping the feet & knees elevated. By leaning slightly forward with the feet elevated, you further mimic a squat. In addition to opening the pelvic outlet, this body position harnesses gravity to ease the process.

Step 3: Perform your Core Compressions, gently exhaling as you pulse the belly toward the spine. Allow the pelvic floor to relax and open. This action promotes healthy peristalsis (pooping) while effectively recruiting the upper abs, your primary ‘push muscles.’ This also serves as practice for the safest pushing during labor: exhalation pushing. This refers to a gentler pushing technique that coordinates an exhalation with every push, as opposed to "holding your breath and bearing down" which increases intra-abdominal pressure and the likelihood of tearing. In contrast, exhalation pushing protects the pelvic floor as it allows your body time to soften and stretch, so the the baby can ease her way into the world with minimal trauma to the perineum.

NOTE: ALWAYS BEAR BACK - NEVER BEAR DOWN. Bearing down bulges the pelvic floor, heightening the risk of hemorrhoids, and it bulges the abs, straining the abdominal wall. This is true both in the bathroom and during birth. For additional tips on how to prepare for a gentle and safe natural childbirth, check out this excellent post by a certified midwife.

The above tips transform a daily bathroom trip into the perfect training ground for a safer, smoother delivery! You’ve gotta go anyway… might as well prepare for an easier labor while you’re there.

By Leah Keller, Founder of the EMbody Program. Learn more about Leah here.

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