Am I walking too much?

“If I walk too much, will I give birth to a premature baby?”
“Am I having backaches and pelvic pain because I walked too much?”

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Walking with the family is a great way to de-stress

Someone told me she was worried about giving birth prematurely if she walked too much. I asked if she has had issues in her pregnancy so far, and she said no. Then I said, in that case walking is good for you and baby, so please walk more!

These questions are valid concerns and I’m glad these mums-to-be asked me for clarification rather than prescribing themselves more bed rest. Bed rest means less physical activity and less physical activity means more potential problems during labour. So less time on the bed/sofa and more time on your feet is one tip to help ease your labour.

Why is walking good for you? Here are 5 reasons:

  1. More opportunities of being outdoors with fresh air and vitamin D from the sun. Walking produces endorphins, or good feelings from your happy hormones.
  2. Walking is one of the best cardiovascular exercises during pregnancy. It is gentle and does not require equipment other than a good pair of shoes (no heels please!). It keeps your heart pumping and lifts your mood at the same time.
  3. You make your muscles, especially the psoas and the piriformis, work and condition them for labour.
  4. Being upright (gravity) helps get baby deeper down into the birth canal.
  5. It’s free!

So do I have to worry about a premature birth?

Unless you have other underlying medical issues, there is nothing to worry about, InshaAllah! You see, many factors come into play before labour can start. Firstly, baby must be in a good position, and is low or close enough to the cervix. Secondly, baby himself must be ready, and their lungs will secrete a protein to signal onset of labour. Thirdly, the cervix must be effaced (soft and thin) and dilated (open) to allow baby to pass through the birth canal. Fourthly (but not lastly), mum herself has to be in a ready state of mind. So don’t worry about giving birth too soon before baby or mum is ready, walk lots to have a smoother labour when it eventually starts at its own time.

But I feel that walking too much will cause me to have backaches…how?

Walking won’t cause you to have backaches, in fact mobility actually helps to alleviate aches and pains. If you’re feeling like walking causes you to have more pain, check:

  • if footwear is causing the problem (please invest in good footwear!)
  • if posture is good (chest out, belly out, shoulders not hunching and tuck your tailbone in)
  • are you drinking enough? Dehydration could be a major cause for muscle aches
  • do you have symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)? (If yes, then there are strategies to help give relief)

Many degrees of walking

Of course, what kind of walking is best? Window shopping constitutes walking too, but is that helpful for labour? (Ans: Yes, but not much). The most helpful kinds of walks are those that encourage the pelvis to really move and open. Power walking is one example. Walking uphill or on a terrain is also good. And how much walking should be done?  Ideally you should walk as much as you sit. So if you spend 8 hours sitting in the office chair, it is good if you can also cover 8 hours of walking, though this sounds unlikely achievable.  But that is a rough measure of how much walking should be incorporated daily.

At the end of the day, you should be happy with the things that you hope to do. Start with a positive and open mind. Never do things feeling resentful which will end with you in tears and stress. Pregnancy should be a happy and worry-free period! Take a break and tune in to your body if you ever start feeling out of touch. Listen to what your body needs.

May you always be in Allah’s care!

-Hanani

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Good posture (illustrated)

Found this very simple to understand illustration about posture in pregnancy from Farley Chiro. This is why I keep stressing for good balance and posture starting early in pregnancy.. or better, start now! Remember, 3 important principles for an easier birth (by spinningbabies.com): Balance, Gravity & Movement.

Invest in some money to see a chiropractor during pregnancy to align your body, or to learn general good tips about posture. InsyaAllah, it will be very worth it!

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A Saturday with Spinning Babies – easier childbirth with fetal positioning


I had a tough month of March. It was a true test to my work as a doula, but at the same time it was also a gift. Alhamdulillah I am now fully recovered.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I attended a very useful workshop conducted by Gail Tully of Spininngbabies.com fame at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. In our doula community, we rely heavily on her website to help us in our work. Her website helps pregnant mothers deal with a misaligned/disproportioned reproductive system that may be causing pain or discomfort during pregnancy and birth. Pregnancy shouldn’t be uncomfortable and shouldn’t cause pain, numbness or soreness. If it does, then there is a good reason why the body is shouting for help. You will need to do something about it… and quickly too, or else it might have a possible unwanted outcome on how your labour works out later. Ideally, a good labour would mean gradual progress from less intense to more intense in a systematic manner. However, too many times do we hear of labours that stop halfway, or that the intensity doesn’t progress, etc. Her works also include useful positioning/exercises to help mothers have an easier and more comfortable labour/birth with help on how to get stalled labours going or how to help turn babies in a bad position back to a good one (which is what is causing labours to stall or be painful in the first place).


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My main take away from this workshop is that I must understand and accept that mothers in the future will face a lot more challenges in their pregnancy and labour, and it is not their fault. Why is this so? It is due to the way we live our lives now. You’ve all probably heard of the saying “orang dulu-dulu senang je nak beranak” (“our ancestors birthed without problems”), and this is true, but it doesn’t mean that just because they had it easy, we would too. Now, we don’t work on our hands and knees, we seldom sit on the floor anymore, we slouch a lot, we sit in a motor vehicle to get us around, etc. There are so many other examples of how modern technology reduces our mobility and the need to stay upright and balanced (the 3 main recipes for an easier pregnancy and birth). All these habits may displace the optimal foetal positioning that would be ideal for a comfortable pregnancy & birth. Human beings are meant to be upright, mobile and balanced. Not sitting down on an office chair all day, only to go home sitting slouchily on bus or car seat. So what do we need to do? We need to do extra help for ourselves… from the start.. or even before we get pregnant! Thankfully, spinningbabies.com has all sorts of information that will suit everyone.

So the 3 principles of spinningbabies.com are:
1) Balance
2) Gravity
3) Movement

What do we balance? Not only the joints of the pelvis, but also the muscles, fascia and ligaments of the entire reproductive system. If your body is balanced, you should not feel pain/sore/numbness in one side.  Make your daily actions (eg: sitting, walking, using computer, sleeping, washing etc) as balanced as possible. If you tend to use more of your right muscles for instance, now is the time to work those left muscles too.
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Imagine an egg balanced on two elastic bands as in this picture. That egg is your uterus and the two elastic bands are your uterine muscles. Gail says in her website: “Sometimes the uterine ligaments are not equal on each side of the body. If one side has shortened ligaments the entire lower uterine segment can have a twist in it. This effect is not uncommon among women who twist to do their work (massage therapists, nurses, chiropractors, etc.) or who hold a child on one hip frequently. A twist in the cervical ligaments can put the lower uterine segment into a slight twist which reduces the room for the baby to have a good head-down position. The baby may remain breech, posterior, or come down asynclitic.”

Activities to help increase balance: Rebozo technique and the Forward-leaning inversion

When we have balance, having gravity and movement will now greatly help in foetal positioning or for labour progress. Gail mentions that exercises like yoga, walking, swimming, stretches, dancing, pelvic tilts will only work better after doing the balancing activities mentioned above.

If you are a pregnant mum or hoping to get pregnant in the future, I really urge you to have a look at the superb website spinningbabies.com. It will give you an insight on how babies spin/rotate and the mechanisms that take place in doing so. MasyaAllah how grand is Allah’s design!

Gail Tully also provides useful tips on how to help a breech baby turn head down, how to engage baby in labour, and lots more! It is so amazing what she has done all these years to help mothers have an easier pregnancy and birth. Alhamdulillah I am so blessed to have met her!

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Gail Tully & Doula Hanani


If you have any questions to ask me about this workshop, you can send me a message over at my Yaqyn Birth page. 🙂

Of the Rebozo technique and our traditional midwives

Last week, I attended a very useful doula sharing session at Fourtrimesters. Doula Catherine shared some useful tricks she learnt from a birth conference she attended in Cairns last year. We took turns practising it on each other. What do you get when you combine 10 sister doulas practising labour techniques on each other – lots of fun and laughter of course!

It wasn’t my first time hearing about the Rebozo technique, but it was definitely my first time trying it first hand. It didn’t strike me at first how familiar this is all supposed to be to me – that my own Malay traditional midwives practised this since 100 years ago. I didn’t realise this until I asked my next client if she would be willing to let me try it on her. Her immediate sms reply – “Is it like lenggang perut?”

Lenggang perut or swinging the belly has been a traditional practise in some clusters of our Malay community, typically the Javanese. Like the Rebozo technique, it makes use of a long piece of cloth or shawl (the mexicans used rebozos, the javanese used batik cloth) and when placed under the lying mother’s bottom or hip area, the cloth extends like two long arms. The midwife or doula will stand over the mother and pull the cloth right and left to swing the belly.

How is this helpful?
This technique can be done throughout pregnancy to encourage optimal feotal positioning. It is also useful to turn a posterior baby if done during late pregnancy.

The modern Rebozo (click on pic for original source)

vs The traditional batik cloth