Pregnancy Exercises for Optimal Foetal Positioning

Pregnant woman sitting on yoga mat after exercise.

Yay! You’re pregnant (or maybe you know someone who is)?! This is such an exciting time for many couples and many of our clients start seeing us when they fall pregnant because they want to optimize their health and create a positive birth experience.

The problem that we find with many pregnant women is that our western culture doesn’t help to promote optimal foetal positioning. The position that the baby sits inside your uterus is critical for a positive pregnancy and birth. So how do we mitigate this?!

I’m Dr Andy from Openspace Healing – The HUB for all things holistic Chiropractic wellness and today we are discussing how to help your babe get into the best position invitro, with simple, free and effective exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Before we get into our fav exercises, it’s important to understand that these techniques work best if your pelvis and spine are in optimal alignment and balanced well. Thus, we encourage you to get checked by your chiropractor or a health professional who works with pregnant women. If any of these exercises cause pain, then please consult with your primary healthcare provider.

Exercise for pregnant woman, open space healing.

At Open Space Healing, we also use a technique called the Webster Technique, which uses gentle adjustments to release the ligament tension around the Uterus. Webster technique is great to help facilitate optimal positioning of your baby.

Did you know that 1 in 25 Australian mothers had their babies in the breech position? That means the babies’ buttocks or feet are near the birth canal as opposed to the vertex or normal position, which is the head first presentation.

The most common breech position is with the baby’s legs straight up in front of the body, and the feet are near the head. Whichever type of breech position, it’s ideal for mums-to-be to have achieved their baby’s optimal positioning.

Although many breech babies can be born vaginally, the risks are high, not just for the baby but for the mother, as well. Thankfully, scientific research has proven that it’s possible to turn your baby. There is even a good chance that your baby will naturally turn when you reach your 34th to 37th week of pregnancy. Sometimes, it does not happen, and you could be among three to four babies out of a hundred who refuse to turn. That means your precious one will remain breech until you give birth!

But fret not because there is still plenty of time. You can urge your baby to move in the vertex position with the Webster Technique.

What’s the Webster Technique, You Ask?

I hear you, so let us talk a little bit about this highly effective chiropractic technique. The Webster Technique was developed by Dr Larry Webster, D.C., who was also the founder of the International Chiropractic Paediatric Association (ICPA). This technique addresses intrauterine constraint by focusing on stress reduction, which occurs in the mother’s uterus.

With less pressure and strain on the uterus, Dr Webster believed that the baby would gain the much-needed space to move into the correct position, which is the head-down or vertex position.

When we say “intrauterine constraint,” it pertains to the abnormal stresses and forces on the uterus. I’m not going to bore you with the specifics because we need to talk about the basic anatomy of the female pelvis for you to understand this concept.

To make the very long and complicated story short, the Webster Technique emphasizes treating:

  • The large hip bones or what we call the left and right innominate bones
  • Sacrum or your tailbone

A misaligned sacrum can pull the ligaments that connect the uterus to the abdominal wall. As a result, there’s an unequal or distorted position of the uterus within your pelvic area. And that’s what causes intrauterine constraint.

Webster Technique consists of an evaluation with your chiropractor to see and assess your sacrum and how it aligns with your pelvis. Once confirmed, we will perform adjustments where we target putting the sacrum back into its proper alignment. The treatment involves massaging and stretching uterine ligaments and their attachment points on the abdominal wall.

After a series of treatment, you will feel a massive difference because the uterine ligament tension is reduced and, therefore, normalised. So, we came up with this ultra-simple equation: normal tension plus more room in the uterus equals correct positioning of your baby – and that is head down!

At Open Space Healing, we have had the privilege of helping several expectant mums-to-be so that they avoid one of their biggest fears: having a Caesarean or C-section delivery. The most recent published research about the Webster Technique shows that it has an 82% success rate. That’s huge! And together with the pregnancy exercises that we will show you today, you gain a much bigger chance of correcting your baby’s positioning.

So let’s get started!

  1. Daily walking – 15min plus per day. Don’t worry; you do not have to push yourself too much. Consistency is more important. And the more you keep walking daily, the better and easier it becomes for you and your baby. Walking daily for at least 15 minutes supports your pelvis and lower limbs, keeping them strong and mobile. It helps reduce pregnancy complications, as well as during the time of delivery. Studies have shown that women who walk regularly have a lower chance of developing gestational diabetes. Also, you can keep your weight in check since you burn calories when walking, too. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone!
  2. Leaning forward over the kitchen counter – (into an inversion off the couch or a chair if it’s comfortable – up to 30 seconds or 3 deep breaths). Alternatively, you can place your hands on the sink, your fingers over the edge of the sink. You can challenge yourself a little by walking back until your arms are parallel to the floor. Your legs should be at a 90-degree angle, keeping your knees straight and feet wide apart. This helps to promote an anterior position of bub. The occiput (back of the head) is the heaviest part of your baby, so leaning forward will help your babe rotate its occiput forward off your sacrum (tailbone). It stretches out the lower ligaments around the Uterus. This also means – avoid slouching back on the sofa or office chair at all costs!Here’s a quick note about this. Remember that your baby’s back is the heaviest part of the body. So, naturally, the bub’s back will gravitate towards your abdomen, particularly at the lowest side. If you sit on a chair and lean forward, your baby’s back will swing towards your tummy. Meanwhile, if your back is lower than your belly, such as when you lie on your back or lean back, your baby’s back could swing towards YOUR back. It’s best to avoid positions that encourage bub to face your tummy, which means you need to stop lolling back in armchairs or sitting with your knees higher than your pelvis.
  3. Pelvic tilting and figure 8’s (either standing or sitting on a fit ball) – These gentle movements help to keep the pelvis and spine mobile and release tension through the soft tissues. Imagine that you are dancing with your baby!Or, if you’re a fan of yoga, you can use yoga positions whenever you are reading, watching TV, or even resting on the bed. For example, you can do the tailor pose, which is where you sit with the back straight and the soles of your feet close to each other. Your knees should be out to the sides. Tailor sitting during pregnancy can alleviate back pain while helping you have better posture, which is vital for your back woes.Good posture is crucial in moving your uterus forward, as well. Wondering why this is important? Well, you give your baby extra wiggle room so that the little one can move into a more favourable position when it is time for you to give birth. And whatever you do, make sure that you NEVER cross your legs! When you cross your legs, you reduce the room at the front of your pelvis. At the same time, you give more space at the back. For optimal foetal positioning, there should be lots of space at the FRONT and not the back.
  4. If the baby is confirmed breech leading up to your birth, you can do a supine inversion to help encourage the baby to turn. Have a loved one assist you and use pillows under your head and shoulders on the floor. Move your bottom onto a chair or couch and lay there for 10-20 minutes up to 3 times a day. You could even use this part of your routine to talk to your baby or hold the little one in your loving imagination.When you are done with this exercise, do not get up quickly. Breathe slowly in the most natural way possible. Use your arms for sitting up and carefully stand up from the ground. Note: remember that there are many reasons why your baby may be breech and if everything else is optimal, then a vaginal birth may still be an option.Inverted postures are not recommended for all mums, however, especially if you are in your second trimester. During this period, your baby has a lot of room in your belly, and the cord has a high chance of moving around and becoming tangled. Inverted postures can cause serious consequences, including cord compression. But our exercise is safe because you will be inclined at an angle of about 30 to 40 degrees. It is the perfect position that not only supports your weight but also avoids compressing the vena cava or the large vein that ensures the blood returns to the heart from your lower body. It is right at the back, near your spine.If you feel a little light-headed when you are in a supine position, you can always stop and relax. Pregnant women tend to have supine hypotension syndrome, where they have low blood pressure when they lie on their backs.
  5. If bub is in a great position and you are over 36 weeks, we can highly recommend deep squats to help engage your babe down. Note, if you have any instability in your pelvis or pubic symphysis pain, then avoid going too deep and stick to wall sits – you can watch how to do them in our vlog here.Deep squats are not for everyone. You should not do these squats until you’re sure that your baby is the right way round. Deep squatting opens up your pelvis and helps your baby move down. If bub is still breech, you can do some squats, but you should use a low stool instead. Make sure you keep your spine upright. Also, avoid leaning forward.And we are done! Now you have our favourite exercises we give to our pregnant clients in house at Open Space Healing. Give them a try and let us know how you go. Plus, if you have any pregnant friends, share these important exercises with them now. And remember, by healing yourself, you inspire your tribe and transform your world. see you next time!