Preparing for Childbirth: the Deep Squat
The third trimester stretch
During the third trimester, it’s important to focus on childbirth preparation and straight up comfort! Below are some stretches preggo mamas can do as they are able. Relaxation and stretching help to decrease discomfort and prepare your pelvis and vagina for delivery.
I love these yoga poses for stretching the back and hips and to prepare your pelvis for birth. Child's pose is a great modification for a deep squat which helps stretch the perineum to prepare for a vaginal birth.
1️. For the cow pose, inhale and lift your booty and head toward the sky as your back arches.
2️. For the cat pose, exhale and tuck your head tuck under as your back rounds upward.
3️. For child’s pose, relax your booty back toward your heels. Keep your knees wide and feet are together.
Perform each stretch for five big deep breaths and repeat three times.
Downward Facing Dog Modification
This modification of downward-facing dog is excellent for opening up your chest, low back pain and decreasing hip tightness. Place your feet shoulder width apart and walk your hands down the wall until you feel a gentle stretch on the back of your thighs and shoulder. Then hold for several breaths. This stretch is perfect first thing in the morning or after sitting for a long time. It’s also helpful during labor contractions (I had back labor).
The Deep Squat
This is my favorite! I usually recommend a deep squat stretch for the third trimester of pregnancy to stretch the hips, relax the pelvic floor muscles and perineum all to help prepare for birth. The belief is this helps lengthen the pelvic floor muscles (to help the baby drop down), open up your hip joints to decrease discomfort, and stretch the vaginal opening tissues to prepare for a vaginal delivery.
Use a yoga block to really settle into this stretch and release your hips and pelvis. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths (or around one minute each) and perform several times daily. Gently breathe, inhale and exhale as you squat. If you can’t get your heels flat, an alternative is to support them with a bolster, rolled yoga mat, or pillows. A deep squat helps stretch the vaginal opening which may decrease the risk of vaginal tearing. Holding a deep squat can also be helpful for pelvic pain, tailbone pain, constipation, or tense/overactive pelvic floor muscles.
Deep squat alternatives
If you have pubic bone pain or pubic symphysis pain (SPD) deep squats are NOT recommended. Often women experience pubic bone pain (SPD), sacroiliac joint dysfunction or just have tight hips and a deep squat is just too deep. These alternatives are great options to lengthen and relax your pelvic floor muscles and stretch the perineum for childbirth preparation. If you aren’t preggo and have tight, tense, or overactive pelvic floor muscles causing pain, peeing, or pooping issues, these are great additions/alternatives to the deep squat stretch.
Here at The Vagina Whisperer, we encourage all women to know her options (pelvic PT is one of them), make informed decisions, build your team to have the birth AND after-birth experience you want. It’s never too soon OR too late to get pelvic floor PT. If you want more stretches, or stretches tailored to you and your body, schedule an in-person or online session below.
Sara Reardon PT, DPT, WCS is the owner of NOLA Pelvic Health and founder of The Vagina Whisperer, a resource for online pelvic health education and therapy to help women worldwide with pelvic health conditions. She is a board certified women’s health physical therapist with a special interest in treating pelvic pain and pregnancy and postpartum conditions. She is a mom, wife, Saints fan and wanna be yogi.