Safe Squatting in Late Pregnancy and Labour
We’ve all heard how beneficial squatting can be during pregnancy and labour. But what do we need to know to maintain safety for our students? Bliss Baby Yoga Senior Online Course Facilitator Star Despres shares her thoughts.
Most yoga teachers know the many benefits of squatting, especially during pregnancy. Squatting is amazing for opening the pelvis, creating space as the baby grows and in preparation for birth. It helps maintain strength and resilience and can even be used as mental preparation to cope with the intensity of contractions.
It’s generally acknowledged that deep squatting is not advisable in late pregnancy, unless our pregnant student has an established practice and is sure their baby has engaged (dropped down) in the pelvis in the optimal position (Occiput Anterior). There’s the risk that in a deep squat, an Occiput Posterior or Breech baby can engage before they have had a chance to rotate to Occiput Anterior. There’s lots of great information explaining baby positioning on the Spinning Babies website.
Once the head is in the pelvis and the baby has engaged, rotation is a lot more difficult. So, in the last six weeks of pregnancy, or when in doubt about the position of the baby, our pregnant students can opt to do modified squats safely.
We cover many variations of safe, modified squats in the online Bliss Baby Yoga Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training course. Adaptations like sitting on a block, half squats such as Goddess pose, or even Chair pose against a wall can be safer in the final weeks.
As taught in the Bliss Baby Yoga Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training course, squatting is also contraindicated for the following issues:
- If baby is in breech position after 34 weeks
- Incompetent cervix / cervical stitch
- Premature dilation of cervix
- Pre-term labour
- Separated symphisis pubis
- Knee problems
- Haemorrhoids or vulval varicosities
- Severe, painful varicose veins
- Placenta Previa
- Discomfort at any time –more likely towards term
As for squatting during labour, I think the most important advice is for the woman / birthing person to listen to their body’s inner knowing and allow that intuition to guide them into whatever position feels right in any given moment.
Squatting is very beneficial for the second stage to optimise the pelvic diameter but can be used earlier if it feels right. I would suggest if this position is used before second stage then a supported squat would be best so as not to exhaust the mum/parent-to-be. Squatting during contractions in the first stage of labour is likely to make it more intense, because the baby’s head is encouraged to go down into the open pelvis. This exerts pressure on the cervix and stimulates contractions, so can potentially also shorten the duration of this stage.
If you would like to expand your knowledge in teaching yoga for pregnancy safely and confidently, you may be interested in our Bliss Baby Yoga Online Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training course, and Online Extension Modules covering topics including Prenatal & Postnatal Anatomy and Physiology and Pelvic Floor Anatomy and Physiology for Women’s Health. We offer a holistic approach to teaching Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga, with a focus on safety guidelines and contraindications for safe and appropriate practices to nourish prenatal students and new mothers.
Star Despres is a Senior Course Facilitator for our Bliss Baby Yoga Online Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training course and Online L1 & L2 Restorative Yoga Teacher Training courses. Star also offers Online 1:1 Mentoring for yoga teachers and personalised yoga classes. Alongside Bliss Baby Yoga, Star shares her own Online sanctuary – www.stardespres.com – honouring the feminine and offering private mentoring, retreats, workshops and circles to inspire women to reclaim their power and reconnect to their authentic selves. Her greatest role is as a mama of 2 daughters (17 years apart), where she continues to fine tune the balance of work and Mamahood whilst also honouring her own needs. You can also connect with Star via Way of the Wise Woman on Facebook and Instagram.
Illustrations by Sophie Duncan www.deerdaisy.com
Further Reading related to this topic:
- Apana and Active Birth: Three ways yoga can support women through the third trimester by Beth Ivy Buxton
- Let’s Twist Again! Twisting safely during Pregnancy by Ana Davis
- To supine or not to supine, that is the question! by Ana Davis
- Safe Yoga for Placenta Previa by Nadine O’Mara
- Releasing the Psoas during Pregnancy by Ana Davis
- Healing the wound: How can we best support mothers after caesarian? by Nadine O’Mara