Where does your baby like to hang out? Baby's movement while in the womb plays a surprisingly important role in their physical and neurological development. Even more prominent in most people's minds is that their eventual positioning as you near the big day can have a huge impact on baby's birth and your labour experience.
There are many factors that can influence where baby "sits" while they grow, where you feel those "loving kicks", and where baby will be located when it comes time to engage. The length of your umbilical cord, placental positioning, cord placement, scar tissue, unique uterine anatomy, previous birth experiences, and even amniotic fluid levels can all influence baby's capacity to move and their birth position. Some of these things we have no control over, but there are also some that we CAN impact while you are pregnant (and before, if you're a planner). Sometimes baby knows something we don't; we can respect that. Our goal is that we do our best to control the things that are under our influence so that we can let go of the parts that we don't control; this helps leave us with no regrets or feelings of guilt when we know we did our best for our baby, regardless of the outcome. Plus it helps improve our chances of a more ideal outcome!
One of the many factors that can have a major influence on infant position that we DO have the capacity to support is that of maternal pelvic movement and positioning.
The pelvis provides a stable foundation for movement (known as a "punctum fixum") and is a connection point for ligaments and muscles. There are several ligaments that attach directly to the uterus and the muscles and bones surrounding the area provide indirect support. All of these structures must shift and adapt as baby increases in size throughout the pregnancy.
In particular, the uterosacral ligaments that attach on the uterus and wrap around to the front side of your sacrum at the base of your spine play an important role. When the pelvis and sacrum have shifted or aren't moving properly, this can put tension and torsion on the uterus itself. Variations in the shape and tension patterns of the uterus can directly impact baby's ability to move freely. It may even influence their capacity to assume a position that is going to be better for labour and can also impact mom's pain experiences during both labour and throughout pregnancy. There are also broad and round ligaments across the front of the belly that can contribute to these dynamics as well.
When it comes to birth, there are multiple positions that a baby may be in. The most common position is head down facing mama’s sacrum, but baby may be in a variety of other positions. It does not have to be "perfect" for you to have an incredible birth experience, but we'd like to help you with the odds.
What can you do about it?
There are lots of ways that you can support your body's balance and adaptability during pregnancy. Regular exercises, especially movement-based activities like yoga, are great. Eating the right amounts of the right foods to support healthy weight gain and not putting those extra pounds into the mix will go a long way too. Massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and physio may all support symmetry and optimal function in your body and pelvis as you go through this miraculous transformation.
At AltaVie, when we want to optimize a mama's pregnancy experience and birth outcomes, we use Webster Technique. Webster Chiropractic Technique is a gentle, safe, and effective pelvic assessment and adjusting technique for pregnant women. It evaluates and impacts the relationship between the pelvis and the uterine ligaments, as well as the surrounding soft tissue. By ascertaining if there are any physical factors involved and providing gentle chiropractic adjustments and muscle releases to the areas at play, we can reduce the amount of tension and torsion on the uterus and provide baby with the space to find the ideal place to hang out in until the big day! If there are other factors at play (like low amniotic fluid or awkward cord placement), we don't affect that and that's ok. At least we are helping mama feel good in the meantime.
For those mamas that don’t have any positional concerns but want to support ideal pelvic movement in preparation for the big day, this technique can be used for all pregnant women in any stage of pregnancy in preparation for labour and delivery. Helping you prepare your body to dance with baby during labour and birth will help reduce the need for interventions and facilitate a smooth transition while welcoming baby into the world.