You have probably done umpteen Cat/ Cow stretches before.
You know what it looks like – hands and knees are on the floor, press your heart forward and upwards as you inhale and as you exhale, press the chin towards the chest, arching your spine skywards while lengthening the tailbone down towards the earth . Maybe you’ve done it in yoga classes or after an aerobics class at your gym, but doing Cat/ Cow during pregnancy will add a whole new dimension for you and your baby’s journey as well.
For example, when you have to get up yet again in the middle of the night, try a few minutes of this posture on the floor. Keep your eyes closed & the lights out, and notice how your little soccer player leaves your exhausted bladder alone so you can settle back down for a few more hours of well-deserved rest. This posture not only rocks baby back to sleep (they tend to wake up and move whenever you quiet down and relax), but it also releases tight hips. This posture also flexes the entire spine from your occipital bone to your tailbone, which in turn circulates the cerebral spinal fluid (or CSF), soothing your brain back into sleep.
Not only does this posture relieve back pain & tailbone pressure with a deep stretch along your entire spine, but when the baby gets heavy, (and it will get very heavy), this posture becomes your best friend.
Because this posture will help you to give birth.
As you get closer to term, and you begin to feel the strange new sensations of a head engaging deeper down into your pelvis, simple things like getting in and out of the car become more and more of a challenge. By getting down on your hands and knees into Cat Cow Pose, flexing the spine & pulling your heart up in front of you, it’s important to avoid crunching in your low back. In fact, when this posture is done correctly, you can actually help to alleviate some of the lumbar pain and pressure that is created by carrying your child.
Notice that instead of rocking up through the tailbone, you can actually rotate your hips a little wider instead, flaring outwards to help open up your pelvic girdle. This opening action becomes especially important while you labor as you really, really want your pelvis to open up and relax from the inside to it’s greatest extent. You can feel in this position how the baby falls forward with gravity, relieving pressure on the cervix and tailbone. Cat/Cow also allows you to bear down with your contractions more easily and with more power from your hands and knees than you ever could dream of lying on your back. Midwives worldwide actually recommend mothers to labor in this posture to help move the baby into proper birthing position (with the baby facing towards your spine) & to relieve the pain of back labor (so called when the back of baby’s head is pressing into your tailbone. Excruciating, trust me!).
On your hands and knees in Cat Cow Pose, you are actually helping to relieve pain & pressure not only in your body, but also for your little one. You are creating more space in a tiny place where centimeters count.
Need another reason to get down on the floor?
Birth can be hard work for both of you. Labor has alternating stages of intensity and rest. The more you can do to keep both of you relaxed when you can, moving when you need to, and oxygenated throughout, the better you both will feel throughout labor. Ultimately, this balance creates an easier labor and outcome for both you and your baby.