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“These supported poses will assist you throughout the active phase of labor, helping you to relax and stay focused,” says Eykel, who used these techniques during her home birth. The more you can relax and let go, the easier the contractions will flow. You can use pillows, blankets or whatever provides the most support and comfort.
“Use these poses as a reference, but make your own personal adjustments and choose positions that feel best to you, listening to the needs of your body,” Eykel adds.
1. Belly Breathing: Sit erect on a pillow in a comfortable, cross-legged position, your hands on your lower belly. Close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose, keeping your face and jaw relaxed, focusing on relaxing your pelvic-floor muscles. Helps calm you during early labor, when contractions are not too intense.
2. Seated Pelvic Circles: Sit erect on a stack of pillows in a comfortable, cross-legged position and place your hands on your lower belly. Move your pelvis in a slow, circular motion, and visualize your baby spiraling downward as you relax into the movement. Circular motions may be small or large, depending on the size and position of the baby. Helps you relax during early labor. Relieves an achy lower back or pelvis and may help the baby descend into the pelvis.
3. Supported Child’s Pose: Kneel on a comfortable surface with knees open wide to accommodate your belly, and chest, arms and head resting on a stack of pillows at a comfortable height. Allows you to relax deeply, opening the hips and giving your baby a bit more space. Gravity can help pull the baby away from your bladder and lower back, relieving any discomfort in those areas.
4. Supported Cat with Hip Circles: Kneel on a comfortable surface and lean forward onto a stack of pillows, supporting yourself on your forearms. Circle your pelvis, breathing deeply. For greater range of motion, straighten your arms and pull back to open the middle and lower back. Opens the hips and helps your baby spiral into position in the birth canal. May relieve lower-back pressure and help you breathe more deeply and rhythmically during contractions.
5. Supported Deep Squat: Sit in a deep squat with a stack of pillows or blankets under your hips for support. Rest your arms on knees. For a deeper squat, sit with your back against a wall, using fewer pillows. Note: This pose is for active labor, and not recommended if you are experiencing signs of premature labor. Helps facilitate labor by opening the pelvis and shortening the birth canal.