Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dear Gymnasts, Dancers, Waitresses, Horseback Riders

If you are or were a gymnast, dancer, waitress or horseback rider, chances are you have heard horror stories about how difficult your birth is going to be. I am sorry that you have had to endure these fear-enhancing comments.  I believe that you can have an amazing birth experience. Let me explain.

Women who have spent many years with perfect posture and strong core muscles will benefit from this during pregnancy and childbirth.  The number one complaint of pregnancy is low back pain.  A strong core is one of the best ways to prevent and manage back pain.  One of the top fears women have about childbirth is tearing of their pelvic floor and perineum.  A toned pelvic floor is more elastic than a low toned pelvic floor.  This means that your pelvic floor can stretch out of the way more effectively as baby passes through the vaginal canal.

So why do some women with these backgrounds have a difficult birth experience.  First of all, there are many factors that effect how your labour will progress.  In other words, both fit and unfit women can have an ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’ birth experience. Most have a birth experience somewhere in between.  Second, it’s not the strength of one’s core that may make things difficult; it is the inability to release one’s core.  If you are a dancer for example, you may have spent years with your core muscles continuously on.  Then when in labour, it may be difficult to turn them off.

So what can you do to increase your chances of an optimal birth experience?  Add some pelvic floor relaxation exercises into your fitness routine.  When you do your Kegels, put equal or more emphasis on the release of the contraction.  Practice letting go of your core muscles on demand. Lastly, do not allow the negative predictions of others to creep into your mind during labour.  When those thought and fears arise, use a mantra to bring yourself back to realty.  You can say this mantra out loud or in your head.  Here are a few suggestions.

“I was made to do this”

“My body knows what to do”

“I am soft.  I am open”


  1. I had a problem when I was delivering my first child because I had done 3 years of pilates and was so tight "down there". The nurse asked my husband if I was a horse back rider, but he said "no, but she's done pilates for 3 years" The nurse said that was why I was having such a hard time getting him out.

  2. Awesome post, Mel! I just had someone in class bring up 'too many Kegels', so I look forward to linking to this in this week's mailout!


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