Don’t Cross Fit Your Baby Out! 5 Keys To Protecting Your Pelvic Floor in Childbirth

Don’t Cross Fit Your Baby Out! 5 Keys To Protecting Your Pelvic Floor in Childbirth

April 1, 2021

The title of this post is in no way meant to demean the CrossFit brand.  In fact, we actually love what Cross Fit has to offer many people.

But when it comes to childbirth, channeling your inner CrossFitter is NOT how to best and most safely deliver your baby.  Us pelvic PTs are quite protective of our patients’ perineums and we would like to help them have the best chance at having an intact and non injured pelvic floor after the delivery.

Here are some concepts that we teach in our Birth Ready Class…

1) EASING your baby out is the goal if possible.

We teach our clients and students how to connect WITH their BREATH and focus on releasing tension for the bulk of their labor.  Going purple in the face from breath holding and straining for long periods is not ideal for baby’s oxygen levels or for mama’s body.

2) Kegels alone as a birth prep plan for pelvic floor health is a really BAD idea.

If you think about it, the pelvic floor muscles are supposed to open and release to be able to allow baby to pass through and into the world.  Habitually clenching these muscles the entire pregnancy will only result in pelvic floor muscles that have very little ability to let go.  We often hear stories of other women telling pregnant women that they SHOULD do kegels their entire pregnancy, and all we can gather, is that the person likely suffered with issues postpartum and decided that IF they had done a ton of kegels before, that all their issues would not have happened.  This really couldn’t be further from the truth.  Pelvic floor issues postpartum are highly varied and have many different factors that combine to result in symptoms such as bladder leaks or pelvic pressure/prolapse.  Learning how to connect the entire core muscles from the diaphragm to the pelvic floor with breathing and learning to release tension is the way to go.  Many of our clients need guidance and practice to be able to do this after years of excessive pelvic floor muscle tension… this is TOTALLY a COMMON THING.

3) Positioning during labor can make things so much easier.

Even though Hollywood likes to show birthing women always on their back with legs hoisted up, there ARE other alternative positions to be in.  To help facilitate baby’s movement, it is best to move the mama.  There are positions that can help bring baby into the pelvic bowl as well as to encourage baby to move earthside.  We teach postures that may be helpful and props like using a peanut ball for ideas for positioning and doulas are really versed in helping birthing women with these postures as well.  Did I mention we LOVE doulas??

4) Doing perineal massage

Not a miracle cure to prevent tearing, but a great idea for all women to self assess their pelvic floor muscles WAY before they are in real labor.  There will always be the friend that swears by perineal massage and how she didn’t have a single perineal tear BECAUSE of their prenatal massage efforts.  The problem with these claims??  Well, the sample size is 1 person for starters.  There are so many variables with the process of childbirth, that it’s pretty hard to claim that this is the singular reason.  I’m sure it’s not hard to find someone who DID have a birth injury and DID do this perineal massage.  So here is the deal.  MANY women have NEVER really looked at their pelvic floors with a mirror or assessed the state of their pelvic floor muscles.  It is a REALLY good idea to do this BEFORE labor to catch any issues with excessive muscle tension and/or pain.  Just taking a finger or thumb and pressing on the outside of the pelvic floor along the vaginal opening with lubricant to see how tense it feels or if it is tender is a good way to catch issues that could be resolved before the due date that may make birth more difficult and possibly increase the risk for tearing.  A pelvic PT would be the go to person if you found this to be an issue.  She can help you learn to reduce this tension and even desensitize the area to resolve pain.  She can also be your birthing coach and help you prepare for the big delivery day!

5) Purple Pushing makes pelvic PTs cringe big time.

We have heard that many nurses and doctors really like to encourage the strategy of breath holding to push for bouts of 10 counts.  While this may be a necessary strategy at times, we hope that we can help women learn to strategically use their breath and core muscles to assist baby’s exit WITH their uterine contractions.  Not to mention, if you closed your glottis right now as if you were about to lift a super heavy weight, what do you feel your pelvic floor muscles do??  Contract!  Instead, try a low growl or low vocal sound and see what your pelvic floor does… it SHOULD lengthen!  And this is what we want our pelvic floor to do when we are PUSHING!

Lastly, the process of birthing a baby vaginally is no walk in the park.  It is truly HARD WORK.  Hence why we call it LABOR!  But in an effort to protect the pelvic floor, we encourage women to work WITH their body, with their breath, and not against their pelvic floor.

We would love to hear feedback on these ideas and concepts if you’d like to message us with a question or schedule a free virtual consult.  We will be having our next Birth Ready Class Series in May and can’t wait to help another group of women FEEL BIRTH READY!

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