Calves on a stool position during and after pregnancy
“Calves on a stool” is such a great simple exercise to help decreasing pressure on the pelvis during and after pregnancy. I thought you may be interested in knowing about it, whether or not you have symptoms, so you can use it now or in the future if you present those symptoms 💜
✅ To reduce symptoms of pelvic or vaginal pressure
✅ To reduce swelling in the labias and lower body (legs/feet)
✅ To use as a resting pose whenever you feel too much pressure in the vagina after being on your feet
✅ To allow baby to move around and reduce pressure on the bladder and pubic bone
✅ To decrease pressure on the pelvis and vagina
✅ To allow the pelvic organs to come back up
✅ To connect with your pelvic floor and feel better your contractions if you cannot feel them in sitting or lying down positions
✅ You can stay in the position for 5-10 min once a day or as many times as you want if it feels good!
✅ Use enough cushions or pillows so your pelvis is higher than your heart ❤️
✅ Make sure you’re comfortable! This position should feel good – if there is pain you need to re-adjust
✅ You can also have your legs up on the wall with your bum as close as possible from the wall
The Forward-leaning Inversion is meant to create room in the lower uterus by using gravity. The goal is to stretch the ligaments of the uterus and cervix to remove tensions and restrictions around your baby and ease labour and birth. It is also a great stretch if you experience any round ligament pain (around the belly button) or pain on the sides of your belly bump. Lastly, it can be used during your contractions in labour if your cervix is not dilating properly.
When should you be doing forward-leaning inversions?
As a proactive way to prepare your body for labour in your third trimester in order to make room for baby to be in the most optimal position – even if baby’s head is already down 🙂
Can be done during a full contraction during labour if your cervix is not dilating (stalled labour) – ask clearance from health provider before performing this pose in labour
To try and flip a breech baby
If you have round ligament pain or pain on the sides of your belly bump
If you feel pelvic heaviness at the end of your day
If you have swelling in your lower body and want to improve circulation
How to perform a forward leaning inversion pose?
**Important: If you have doubts about the safety of this pose during your pregnancy, get clearance from your medical provider first.**
Ask your partner or a friend to be present with you the first few times in case you feel any symptoms (ex: dizziness) during the exercise
Put a stool, chair or coffee table nearby so you can support yourself when coming back up from your inversion pose
Kneel on your sofa or bed (if it is low enough)
You can ask your partner or friend to hold your thighs to feel more safe
Slowly lower yourself down so your hands are on the floor **this may be where you want to stop for the first few times, especially if you are in your third trimester. Get used to this position first before moving to a lower position.**
Then, if you feel OK, go all the way unto your elbows for a steeper angle.
Hold the position for 3 breaths – not longer!
Slowly come back up using the stool/chair/table nearby as a support
Stay in a high kneeling position (see image below) for 3 breaths
Stand up unless you feel any symptoms of dizziness or head pounding
When should you AVOID doing forward-leaning inversions?
If you have high blood pressure, glaucoma
If you have any vaginal bleeding
If the inversion triggers pain anywhere in your body
If you feel dizzy or have severe headache during or after the exercise
If baby is moving a lot in frantic ways during the pose
If you present any medical condition associated with your pregnancy: check with your doctor prior to practice an inversion pose
If your intuition tells you to avoid it 🙂 Always listen to your mother’s intuition!
How often should you do it?
For labour preparation: 1-2x/day as of your third trimester – there is nothing wrong with doing it earlier if you wish.
For pain management: 1-2x/day + whenever you feel symptoms
To flip a breech baby: 7x/day x hold the position a little longer i.e. 45 secs
The coregeous ball is definitely one of my favourite self-care tools. I use it pretty much every day for different purposes – whether it is for back pain, posture, digestive issues, stretching and so on! Want to learn how to use it?
Low back, hip & pelvic pain during & after pregnancy can restrict mobility and limit moms in their daily activities. Having some self-management techniques to alleviate the pain can be a life saver for a better sleep, improved mobility & remaining active.
How about using massage balls for self-treatment? You can do it anywhere, anytime, for as long as you want! Isn’t it the best?
WHO IS THIS FOR?
Pregnant or post partum women who experience low back, hip, sacrum or pelvic pain (**an assessment by a pelvic health PT is highly recommended prior to do these techniques, to make sure they are appropriate for you**)
Pregnant women who are closer to labour (>36 weeks) and want to improve their pelvic mobility in order to ease labour and birth
Pregnant women in labour who want to reduce pain during the contractions
First watch the warm-up video to help your tissues get in the mood and ease into the release. Then, move on to the next video for more in depth massage techniques.
**The Yoga Tune up massage balls are available at my clinic for purchase, or online :)**
Pubic symphysis pain can be extremely debilitating during and after pregnancy.
It is a kind of pain located at the pubic bone (the bone above the clitoris), and it can be sharp or dull.
Most women report that it gets triggered with some or all of the following activities:
– Standing up after sitting for a while
– Turning in bed
– Standing on one leg (ex: to put shoes on or pants on – they end up having to sit to perform these tasks)
– Going up/down stairs
– Turning in bed
– Going up/down stairs
Here are my top recommendations to help alleviate pubic symphysis pain.
PS: check out the video below if you want an actual visual of these recommendations!
#1 SYMMETRICAL POSTURE!
Make sure you sit with equal weight on both butt cheeks, and stand with equal weight on both legs.
When sitting, avoid crossing your legs, and keep your knees in a “V” shape. I know this is not the most feminine way to sit, but what can I say…! Your body will feel more balanced that way!
#2 BUTTERFLY STRETCH
Lie on your back with your legs open on both sides, feet together. Let your legs relax on both sides. Keep this position for 2 minutes, then do 3 bridges to activate your gluts. This will re-align the pubic symphysis. There is another re-alignment exercise that you can do in the sitting position. Both are demonstrated in the video below 🙂
#3 SACRO ILIAC BELT
This is a stability belt that you wear around your pelvis to make sure your pubic symphysis remains stable. Some women respond well to it, some others don’t like the sensation, and some others do not report much changes. I have definitely seen more women having good results than not though, but just so you know it is not a magical solution for everyone.
A good way to test if it may work for you: ask someone to squeeze your hips together while you stand on one leg, and see if you have less pubic symphysis pain when your hips are squeezed. If it makes a difference, then you are probably a good candidate for a stability belt. You can also go to a medical equipment store when your pubic symphysis is a bit “angry” and sore, and try the belt on. Normally, when it helps, you should feel significant relief in your symptoms right away when you put it on and you start moving around.
#4 MOVE SMARTLY
Your upper and lower body should always move as a whole, or a “block”. Avoid twisting the upper body over the lower body. This applies when you turn in bed or come out of bed.
This book from Cecile Rost is a must to teach you how to move properly with pubic symphysis pain!
#5 LEGS PARALLEL AT NIGHT: PUT A BIG PILLOW IN BETWEEN YOUR KNEES!
Put a pillow or cushion in between your legs at night – something big enough to keep your legs PARALLEL to each other. Using a thin pillow where your legs are still not parallel WON’T WORK! Use a bigger pillow or put two in one pillow case, or use one of those gigantic body pillows 😂 If it keeps slipping away during the night, you may want to look at a pillow with a leg strap to keep it in place.
#6 FOOT SUPPORT
Make sure you wear good shoes with ankle support. If your feet are not well supported, the whole alignment of your body will be off, especially during pregnancy when the relaxin hormones makes all the ligaments looser. It is like building a house on a crooked foundation..!
I have seen many moms coming into my office wearing flip flop sandals in the summer, and complaining of pubic symphysis pain. The first thing I told them was to swap those flip flops for running shoes ASAP!
Also, if you live in a snowy country such as myself, you will want to make sure that you wear shoes with good traction in the winter (add metal crampons if needed!). Any unexpected side motion or slip can make the pubic symphysis angry, so prevention is the key!
#7 GET ASSESSED BY A MANUAL THERAPIST
Whether it is a Pelvic Health PT, a chiropractor, or an osteopath, seeing someone who has experience and appropriate training in assessing and treating pelvic conditions is absolutely essential if you feel like the advice above are not working effectively.
In the following video,
I show you two re-alignment exercisesas well as how to wear the sacro-iliac belt 🙂
It all started last spring. There was this Birth Healing Summit advertised on one of my pelvic health groups on Facebook, and since it was presented online and free, I decided to sign up. What did I have to lose anyway..?
This summit was put on by a Pelvic Health physiotherapist called Lynn Schulte who had interviewed different speakers in the birthing field about various subjects. When I saw that Julie Wiebe & Sinéad Dufour – two experts that I highly respect in the pelvic health field – were going to be interviewed, my heart was won already.
I listened to all the interviews with much interest, getting everyone’s perspective on how to heal the body after delivery. But the interview that really got me was Lynn Schulte’s herself. She spoke about her experience treating pregnant and post partum women, and how she found these similar patterns in all of her clients. It was like a light bulb flashing to my eyes, so brilliant, so clear. She was mentioning about how the pelvic bones (sacrum & ilium) need to move and open to let the baby go through the pelvis during labor and delivery. She called it “the open birthing pelvis” pattern. She also mentioned how these bones were stuck in a very stereotypical way in almost every post partum mom she had assessed, leaving the right side of the pelvis (especially the sacro iliac joint) out of whack after birth, triggering similar symptoms such as right-sided low back pain, pubic symphysis pain, feeling of unsteadiness in the pelvis, difficulty to recruit the pelvic floor & core after birth, etc.
But wait…!!? My moms were reporting that too!!! That damn right-sided pelvic pain! This feeling of getting out of bed in the morning and feeling like an 80 yo! This hip pain while sleeping! This “unsettled pelvis” sensation, or feeling that you don’t own your body anymore after delivery! Then it became clear to me:
I had to meet Lynn Schulte in person.
I had to learn everything she knew about fixing the body during and after pregnancy.
The first thing I did was to read everything about her and the Institute for Birth Healing which she had opened a few years ago in Denver, Colorado. I realized that this amazing experienced physiotherapist had worked for more than 25 years helping moms to recover from birth. I discovered her youtube channel which I spent many hours on, watching every video, positively nodding to everything she said, and wanting more. This woman knew what she was talking about, holy!
But what caught my attention was this Birth Healing Specialist Certification that she was offering for professionals in the birth/pregnancy field. This included 3 in-person practical courses at her Institute in Denver. Mmm… this would be a big investment if you count the courses/certification fees as well as travel fees… Plus the Canadian to US dollar change rate was not really helping me…!
But hey! My heart was really calling for this training. Everything I had done so far was leading me to it. Working with pregnant and post partum moms was clearly my path, I knew it deep inside. I needed to offer more to my moms. I needed to help them in an effective way and understand what was going on for them. Make them more comfortable so they can get back to what they love doing without discomfort from pelvic floor disorders. Go back hiking, running, playing with their kids, camping, and whatever they like doing, and feel like their body was not restricting them to do those things.
So I signed up for the certification. In October & November this fall, I flew to Colorado (long travels!!!) to meet with Lynn Schulte and all the amazing women who wanted to learn from her. Our first course was the Holistic Treatment of the Pregnant Body, and the 2nd one the Holistic Treatment of the Post Partum Body.
There is no word to say how much this training has changed my practice already. A few realizations I made…:
This open birthing pattern where the pelvic bones move for delivery can remain in the post partum body for years if it is not addressed through manual treatment, it can lead to pelvic floor disorders symptoms like pain, prolapse, urine incontinence and so on. So big “hah!!!” moment for me to learn that we cannot just approach things from a strict “muscle” perspective.
There are quick and effective external manual techniques to fix the bones and put them back where they should be. After trying it in clinic with a few patients, I was so surprised to see how effective these techniques are!!
During pregnancy, the organs (liver, stomach, small intestine, bladder, uterus) are pushed in all directions to make room for the baby, and can remain “stuck” in these positions after baby is born, causing various issues. I learned how to mobilize these organs and put them back into place. I am thankful for the visceral knowledge that PT school never really brought up…!
Urinary urgency/frequency that is often reported post partum can be caused by the urethra/bladder being shifted to one side or the other, and I can now fix this with quick effective techniques!
There is an emotional component from pregnancy and birth that can be held in the tissues, and doing a body/mind connnection through a pelvic bowl meditation (credits to Lynn Schulte :)) can be so so powerful to release it!
Yes, internal vaginal techniques have a big role to play in assessing my moms, but there is much more to it such as external joints & organ mobilizations, release of the abdominal wall & diaphragm, etc, and I am thrilled to now be able to offer more to my clients with a holistic approach
These techniques are not only helpful for moms or moms-to-be – I have been applying them to many other clients (back/pelvic pain, urinary problems, etc) and they proved to be effective for so many people!!!
These are just a few “wow” moments that I picked up, but there are so many more!!! My last course is coming up in December and we will learn more advanced post partum techniques which I am so excited about!
By the way, I am proud to say I will be the first PT in Canada who has this Birth Healing Specialist certification! What an honour!