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Birth preparation in physiotherapy

Birth preparation is important for you as parents-to-be to prepare yourselves physically and emotionally as a couple and as individuals for the birth of your child. This can take place as part of group courses or individual sessions.


Anneke, CEO of Physio Restart, would like to share her own experience of how she prepared for the birth of her first child, partly together with her husband but also with other people. She would like to point out that this was her personal experience, which depended on her current mental and physical condition. Anneke was very fortunate to be physically free of any severe complaints, perhaps also a result of her knowledge, regular exercise and healthy diet. We recommend that you reconsider which content is relevant for you and possible at the time.

 

Anneke:


For birth preparation, you may want to seek help from your gynaecologist, midwife, doula, specialised physiotherapist, osteopath or other specialist disciplines. It is important to know at all times how you and your baby or babies are feeling in the womb so that you can implement or omit the following measures accordingly.


Preparation already begins when you are trying to conceive. In this article, however, I am mainly referring to the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.


What can you (together with the people around you) do so that you (you) are stronger going into the birth and the time afterwards?


Where can I get antenatal education?


1. a birth preparation course: A great idea to get information about the birth process, the place of birth (infrastructure, staff and mission statement), breathing and relaxation techniques and to get to know other parents-to-be. Zurich offers a variety of options, from purely informative talks to practical events at your chosen birth centre and fitness classes on land and in the water.


2. in therapeutic sessions: Your treating doctor may give you a prescription for physiotherapy, osteopathy or chiropractic. Often due to complaints you may have mentioned. The costs are fully covered by basic insurance from the 13th week of pregnancy. At Physio Restart you can book both, i.e. you can book appointments without a prescription and get the costs reimbursed by your supplementary insurance if necessary.


3. on social media, in books, forums, podcasts: There are certainly great resources that you can consume easily and conveniently from home and on the go, but I recommend looking carefully at what information you are getting involved with. It's certainly not a good idea to google and take the opinions and advice of other mums online as a reliable source. Even your own mum or mum-in-law may often give you precocious advice. But books like Babyjahre, The Complete Australian Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, Die Hebammensprechstunde or podcasts like Keleya, Von Anfang an dabei or Die friedliche Geburt are some that I have found valuable. In the end, however, the most reliable source remains your doctor, therapist and midwife. By the way, I have written an article in the Mum's Guide from Let's Family and am planning another one for the Baby Guide. You can get these books in doctors' clinics and hospitals, and they are usually included in the mum and baby box that they give out free of charge. But take a look at my story and publications here.

 

What content is important for birth preparation?

I divide them into theoretical and practical:


Theoretical birth preparation


  1. What happens in and to my body in the last few weeks of pregnancy? How is the baby developing? Which physical and mental changes are normal for me and which are less?

  2. How do I prepare my home and my environment for the arrival of the new family member?

  3. How do I decide which type of birth is possible? When should I consider an abdominal birth (caesarean section)?

  4. How can I recognise that the birth is about to start? When do I contact my midwife and/or the place where I am giving birth?

  5. How does the birth normally proceed and what other scenarios are possible?

  6. What role does my birth companion play? Do I even want my partner or someone from my family or circle of friends with me? What is important to me?

 

Practical birth preparation


By the 3rd trimester at the latest, you should know the pelvic floor in all its forms. Where it is located, what function it has when and where and how you can relax it at the end of the pregnancy and during labour and tighten it at other times.

Practise various breathing techniques that will accompany you towards the end of your pregnancy and can then support you during the birth and postnatal period.


You can do wonderful mobilising exercises with your partner to open your pelvis and familiarise yourself with birth positions.

Muscle-strengthening and endurance training can also often take place up until the birth and give you enough energy and strength to keep going. There are now some studies that report that the labour time is shortened and the recovery for you and your baby is faster afterwards. I am (currently in my 39th+0 week) still active 5-6 times a week in my practice and in the fitness centre.

By massaging and stretching around your perineum, vagina and anus, you can familiarise yourself with this area of your body, which has unfortunately often been taboo until then. You can also do the massage (from week 32-34+0) and stretching with a balloon (from week 36+0) as a couple, always in consultation with your doctor.

Your diet should be balanced and predominantly healthy and tasty throughout your pregnancy. A few weeks before the birth you could follow a louwen diet. This is not a diet per se, but rather an avoidance of foods high in sugar and carbohydrates so that you can regulate your blood sugar levels and thus open the channels of the receptors that are important for the natural onset of labour.


Ultimately, it's about preparing yourself mentally and physically for the birth and building confidence in your abilities as a mum-to-be. Your pregnancy is unique and an absolute miracle. Listen to your needs, take sufficient rest breaks and don't let yourself be influenced by other opinions or supposed role models. Don't put yourself under pressure if the day doesn't go as planned. Pregnancy, birth and the time afterwards should be a journey with pleasure and not a ticking off of to-do lists! In the end, you have certainly given your best.


If you are looking for physiotherapeutic support during your pregnancy and would like to have the above questions answered, you can contact us at any time with your concerns or book an appointment directly.



Author:

Anneke Penny

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