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Rebecca Shield

Is pelvic imbalance affecting your pregnancy?

Pregnancy is an exciting time, full of excitement and anticipation for the arrival of your beautiful bundle of joy.

When preparing for a natural birth mothers have many resources to help them prepare and support their bodies for optimal labour and birth. Learning about their bodies and the birthing process can help them to understand what they are about to experience and how to support this natural process.

The most desirable position for the baby in birth is when the baby’s head is down, with the back of the head (occiput) and spine facing the mother’s front left side. During birth the baby’s body rotates, aligning the occiput with the mother’s symphysis pubis. Then the baby’s head emerges. Once the head is out, the shoulders continue to rotate so they, too, can fit through the mother’s pelvis.

If the baby’s occiput is facing the mother’s right side, in order for the head to get into the most desirable position, the baby must do a “long turn” in the clockwise direction within the mother’s entire pelvis to arrive at her symphysis pubis. Frequently, the baby will stall with his occiput up against the mother’s sacrum. This is called an occiput posterior presentation. It may lead to a longer and more difficult labour and delivery, or even to interventions that prevent a natural birth from happening.

There are babies that choose to lie in a sideways position or “transverse lie”. And also babies that choose to position themselves with their feet pointing downwards; the dreaded ‘’breech position”.

What we sometimes aren’t aware of is that babies move freely throughout pregnancy. Between 35–37 weeks, they settle into what usually becomes their position for birth. Why can babies choose one position as opposed to another? Many mothers are not aware that their pelvic balance throughout pregnancy strongly affects their baby’s choice of position in birth. Increasing your awareness of your posture and movement will support your baby’s ability to find his or her optimal position, which can contribute towards a safer and more natural birth for you and your child.

Many things can affect the pelvis during pregnancy. Modern, sedentary lifestyles, especially seated positions, can compromise our spinal alignment and pelvic balance.

Easy chairs, couches and car seats force us into a slouch position. Even when sitting in straight-backed chairs, we can find ourselves slouching. Slouching misaligns the pelvis in such a way that it makes it more comfortable for the baby to turn posterior or breech. If, instead, you sit with your pelvis tilted forward, your lower spine curves forward. Your pelvis will be open and the baby can often choose a healthier position.

With any opportunity sit with your hips rocked forward and your knees lower than your hips.

Sitting toward the front edge of your chair will help overcome negative sitting habits. Well inflated birth balls and swedish kneeling chairs make it easy to keep your knees lower than your pelvis.

When on long car journeys or when sitting at work, take breaks every 15-20 minutes and move your body. Spend time throughout the day moving your hips in a figure-eight-type motion. You can use the back of a chair to lean on to do this movement. This keeps the joints in your pelvis flexible and better able to maintain a balanced state. These positions also lean the uterus forward and encourage the baby to settle into the anterior position, an ideal position for birth.

If you have an occupation that is restrictive to movement or has you maintaining a one-sided posture for long periods of time, it is important that you aim to change postures regularly, so you can support pelvic balance. For example, chiropractors and massage therapists may spend their entire day on one side of their table. In this case, maintain pelvic balance by adopting alternate stances.

If you are frequently holding an older child during pregnancy, and you elevate your hip for added support, know that this repetitive torque to your pelvis can cause structural imbalances that may adversely affect your baby’s positioning in utero.

It might seem inconvenient to balance out your daily positions, but your awareness and effort to do so throughout pregnancy can make a significant difference in your birth experience.

Care and support during pregnancy can improve your experience of pregnancy.

Chiropractic care assesses and analyses pelvic balance and distortion. Gentle Chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy can help to create balance in the pelvis, and associated muscles and ligaments. This can reduce tension in the structures that support the uterus, thus potentially reducing unwanted tension, decreasing the potential for unnecessary intervention during birth.

With the pelvis in balance the baby has greater room to develop without restrictions to its forming cranium, spine and skeleton. This also allows the baby room to move into the best position for the birthing process.

As always I hope this information is of use to any expecting Mummys and Daddys, and may you be blessed during this special time.