We love love love squats.
With a history as a personal trainer, we've seen just about all variations and used them with many women as they progress throughout their pregnancy. Especially since they're perfect during labour to help baby enter the world and relieve some discomfort during contractions.
Many of the women I work with have been advised by other health professionals, family or friends to spend time in a low squat position throughout their pregnancy to prepare for birth.
It's no surprise then, that we get a few odd looks when we recommend AVOIDING low squats once we reach thirty weeks.
Why we hear you ask?!
The low squat position helps open the pelvic outlet, enabling baby to descend and engage for birth. Sounds great, doesn't it? And it actually is great, PROVIDING BABY IS POSITIONED WELL.
If baby doesn't happen to be in a great position for birth and we continue encouraging them to descend, we can indirectly increase the risk of intervention as baby's journey through the birth canal gets much more complicated.
So how do we squat safely?
Beyond thirty weeks - ONLY squat with hips higher than knees.
When our hips are higher than our knees, we enable a forward pelvic tilt, giving baby plenty of room to move and position themselves well.
The opposite is also true. Hips lower than knees minimises the space baby has to move and descend by tilting the pelvis backward.
What about labour??
Once we are in active labour and babies position is well established as left occiput anterior (LOA), squatting can be incredibly helpful. Your midwife will be your most valuable source for confirming babies position and encouraging you into other active positions if baby does need to shift a little.
TIPS on squatting safely:
SQUAT TO A DINING CHAIR
An easy way to make sure hips stay above knees is squatting into a dining chair (or another chair that is high enough). This prevents you going lower and tilting your pelvis backward.
Pick a height that is safe and has your knees lower than hips. Lean against a wall to support your spine and hold for up to one minute at a time. If you feel your muscles start to shake, it's important to stop, have a short break and then go again.
SQUAT WITH A PARTNER
Working out with a partner or trainer can be a great way to exercise in general but can be even better to ensure you're doing things safely as baby develops and it gets trickier to see exactly how your body is moving.
Make sure to check in with your health care professional for specific advice before trying any new exercise at home & enjoy!