Written by Roshni Ravi, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist
Pelvic physiotherapy can be a valuable tool for preparing for your Labour and Delivery. It can help to improve strength and mobility of the muscles and joints in the pelvic area. This can make it easier for the baby to descend through the birth canal during delivery.
FAQs about the Labour and Delivery Process
What are the different stages of Labour and Delivery?
The three stages of labour and delivery are:
- Early Labour: This is the onset of labor to when the cervix is fully dilated to 3-4 centimeters.
- Active Labour: This is when the cervix is fully dilated to 3-4 centimeters to when it is fully dilated to 10 centimeters.
- Transition: This is when the cervix is fully dilated to 10 centimeters to the delivery of the baby.
How long does labour usually last?
The duration of labour varies from person to person and can range from a few hours to over 24 hours for first-time mothers.
What are the common signs of labour?
The common signs of labour include:
- Regular contractions
- Water breaking
- Back pain
- Pelvic pressure
- Blood-tinged mucus discharge
What is an epidural and how does it work?
An epidural is a type of anesthesia that is used to relieve pain during labor and delivery. It is administered through a small catheter placed in the lower back and works by blocking the sensation of pain in the lower body while allowing the woman to remain conscious.
What is the process of a vaginal delivery like?
A vaginal delivery is the delivery of a baby through the birth canal without the use of surgical intervention. During a vaginal delivery, the baby moves through the birth canal and the mother pushes with contractions to help deliver the baby.
What is a cesarean delivery (C-section)?
A cesarean delivery (C-section) is a surgical procedure in which a baby is delivered through an incision made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. A C-section is typically performed when a vaginal delivery is not possible or when there is a medical concern for the mother or the baby.
What are some of the risks associated with labour and delivery?
Some of the risks associated with labor and delivery include:
- Preterm labour and delivery
- Fetal distress
- Shoulder dystocia (difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulders)
What can I do to prepare for labour and delivery?
You can prepare for labour and delivery by:
- Take childbirth education classes
- See a pelvic health physiotherapist
- Create a birth plan
- Find a supportive birth team like doulas or midwives
- Pack a hospital bag
- Discuss pain management options with your healthcare provider.
The role of Pelvic Health Physiotherapists in preparing you for Labour and Delivery
Pelvic physiotherapy can help to alleviate common pregnancy related symptoms such as back pain, incontinence and pelvic pain. A combination of manual therapy techniques with soft tissue and joint mobilization along with mobility work can be used to alleviate pain in the pelvic area. The physiotherapist can also work on alignment and posture to help present injury and reduce discomfort.
Leading up to labour, a pelvic physiotherapist can provide you with a variety of tools to help with pain relief and positioning to improve your experience during labour. One of the common techniques taught to birthing parents at 32 weeks, is the perineal massage to reduce the chance of tearing during delivery. In addition, you would also be taught positions to help reduce discomfort during contractions as well as pushing techniques.
After delivery, a physiotherapist can help restore strength and mobility along with providing education on suitable abdominal and pelvic floor exercises based on weaknesses and tone. Any side effects from delivery such as perineal tearing can also be treated post-partum.
Have questions? Discuss your options with a pelvic health physiotherapist for pregnancy and post-partum care!