How to Body Balance during Pregnancy
by Dr. Katie Gleisner
The motherhood transition, first through the fourth trimester, shifts a woman’s physical, emotional, and energetic being. As your body undergoes the herculean task of growing a human and a new organ, the placenta, from scratch, your bones, muscles, ligaments, and fascia shift to compensate and adapt. These adaptations impact mom’s physical comfort during pregnancy and birth, as well as her baby’s ability to move freely in utero and descend optimally into the pelvis. Body balancing techniques focus on gentle unwinding and myofascial release to achieve a state of balance and harmony. These poses are simple and safe to practice on a regular basis during your pregnancy, and incorporated as birthing positions.
Our body is dynamic and resilient, but trauma is absorbed and held in the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. We accumulate trauma as we experience life. Torsion injuries from birth, car accidents, and falls, as well as ingrained daily movement patterns impact our structural balance. As traumas are locked in, the body develops imbalances or biomechanical distortion patterns to compensate. These structural imbalances create tension throughout the spine, muscles, connective tissue, and fascia. Chiropractic, craniosacral, and myofascial techniques detect imbalances and release tension, which allows the body to unwind physical and emotional energy, and reset body balance. Clearing biomechanical distortion patterns through bodywork and body balancing poses helps to establish healthier posture, movement patterns, nerve and musculoskeletal function, and overall well-being.
Pregnancy and birth are normal, physiological experiences for the body. You may anticipate incremental changes throughout your pregnancy as your body grows and nurtures your baby. Some moms experience energy shifts, headaches, sickness, breast tenderness, cramping, low back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. Others don’t. An individual’s “symptoms” are evidence of unique hormonal and physical changes, as well as possible body imbalances. Uterine, fetal, and breast growth during pregnancy shift the body’s center of gravity forward, into flexion. Simultaneously, the pelvis is tilted anteriorly, as relaxin loosens the ligaments and joints throughout the body. These changes distort posture, biomechanics, and movement patterns, resulting in further body imbalance. Any biomechanical distortion pattern in the mom’s structure impacts the baby’s structure. Therefore, clearing imbalances and unwinding tension through the neuromusculoskeletal system helps to establish dynamic body balance, which during pregnancy increases comfort and ease with birth, as well as creating space for the baby to maneuver into the pelvis.
The pregnancy body balancing poses seek to balance the diaphragm, pelvic floor, and fascia of the musculoskeletal system to support a healthy pregnancy and optimal birth positioning. They are gentle movements that should feel comfortable to breathe and settle into. All you need to get started is your body, breath, a partner, sofa/bed, and pillow.
Intention: Gentle release of the diaphragm and pelvic floor through broad ligament relaxation. Diaphragm release can be safely performed throughout pregnancy.
- Start laying on your back or side. Place a pillow behind your head.
- Have your partner place one hand with their thumb pointing towards your belly button on your lower abdomen. Their second hand contacts your sacrum. Initially, your partner is not applying pressure, but holding space for relaxation.
- Begin diaphragmatic/belly breathing. Focus on inhaling through your nose, feel your breath fill up your abdomen, and exhale through your mouth. Your partner may apply light pressure with their top hand.
- Be attentive for subtle movements, flutters or waves, as your body relaxes and unwinds. Allow yourself 10-30 minutes to release and reset your body balance.
Intention: Gentle release of the fascia of the diaphragm and pelvic floor. It helps to release pressure of your low back and hips, as well as balance spinal muscles. Standing release can be used throughout pregnancy and during early labor. It is great to do after a long car ride to relax and loosen up the muscles, fascia, and joints of the low back and pelvis.
- Stand facing a wall, and place your hands or forearms against it. Soften your knees and close your eyes, if comfortable.
- Have your partner stand to your side and place their dominant hand on your sacrum. Their fingers should be facing down on your sacrum. Their second hand cradles your lower abdomen.
- Using light pressure your partner will feel for any “buckle” or “ledge” of tension in the sacrum. They will hold gentle sustained pressure on the area, until your body releases.
- Breathe and allow your body to unwind tension throughout your pelvis and body. Allow 2-5 minutes for this release.
Side Lying Release
Intention: A static stretch to open and soften the muscles of the pelvis and spine, as well as release sacroiliac (SI) joints. Side Lying Release can be performed on a regular basis during pregnancy to support better fetal positioning, and during labor to reduce pain and duration.
- Lay on one side on a supportive surface (bed, couch). Place a pillow beneath your head to keep your spine straight.
- Have your partner stand in front of you, with their leg/hip firmly against the edge of the bed to keep you stable. Your partner will place their hands around your hip.
- Lift and drop your leg off the bed. Let your leg relax and hang for 2-3 minutes. Breathe.
- Repeat on the opposite side to create balance and stability in the pelvis.
- Stand up and walk around your space to allow for further unwinding of your pelvis.
Forward Leaning Inversion
Intention: Create space in your pelvis to help your baby get into an optimal position for birth through uterine ligament unwinding. It can be helpful at reducing back, sacrum, and pubic bone discomfort.
- Kneel and hold onto the edge of your couch or top of the stairs.
- Carefully, lower yourself to rest your hands on the floor. Move to your forearms.
- Gently tuck your chin to align your head and neck. Allow your head to hang freely.
- Keep your knees to the edge of the surface, and your hips up high. Listen to your body and gently tilt, sway, or circle your hips.
- Breathe (3 breaths or 30 seconds).
- Return to your hands, and lift yourself to a kneeling position. Use a partner or stool if you need help.
- Breathe in a high kneeling position.
- Sit on your heels. Breathe. Keep your feet together, move like a mermaid, as you swing your legs to the side and down to the floor.
- Sit and breathe, as your pelvic ligaments settle into a more balanced, aligned position.
For further comfort and balancing during pregnancy, explore Spinning Babies website at https://www.spinningbabies.com, and get regular prenatal chiropractic adjustments.
Carol Phillips, DC, Better Birth with Body Balancing