Pelvic tilts, also known as pelvic rocks, are an exercise many healthcare professionals recommend for an expectant mother who is experiencing back pain, especially when she’s close to her due date. Pelvic tilts are great for toning muscles and ligaments that support internal organs. Plus, they are great for easing tension, correcting your posture, and improving circulation.
How To Do Pelvic Tilts
There are many ways to do a pelvic rock or pelvic tilt. You can do them while standing, in a lying down position on your back or your side, while seated, or on your hands and knees. Any of these positions are effective, since the combination of the hip movements and rocking of the pelvis in motion is pretty consistent. If you’re not sure about any of these exercises, ask your healthcare provider to help you or show you how. Many hospitals, community agencies, and clinics offer special exercise classes for expectant mothers. For exercising at home, try these simple instructions for each of the methods:
Passive Pelvic Tilts: With the expectant mother positioned comfortably on her left side, an assistant should stand behind her, cupping their left hand over the iliac crest (the hip bone) and placing their right hand on the sacrum (the base of the spine). Moving the arms in a bicycle-type motion, rotate the pelvis. If you get tired, your assistant can take over.
Seated Pelvic Tilts: As you inhale, look upward and rock your pelvis forward while arching your back. Then begin exhaling and look down towards your lap while rounding your back. Repeat this pattern eight to ten times.
Hands and Knees: While on your hands and knees, keep your back straight and your head level with your back. Tighten your buttocks and abdominal muscles, pulling in and upward. Lean your upper torso toward the floor and move your hips up and down, back and forth. Hold this position for a few seconds. Return to original position and keep in mind that it’s important to keep your back straight, not arched. Repeat this three to five times.
Lying on Back: While lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, slightly rock your pelvis forward so that your lower spine is flat against the floor. Hold this position for several seconds, and then relax the pelvis so that you are lying in a natural position with your lower back slightly curved away from the surface of the floor. If you begin to feel dizzy or light headed, discontinue this series.
Standing Pelvic Tilts: Make sure you have a sturdy chair to do this exercise. Stand two feet away from the back of the chair and bend slightly forward from your hips. Place your hands on the back of the chair and keep your elbows straight. Thrust your hips backward and relax your abdominal muscles. Slightly bend your knees and slowly pull your hips forward. Tighten your buttocks muscles, and repeat.
When To Do Pelvic Tilts
If you feel labor coming on, or if labor keeps coming and going, you can help induce labor through pelvic tilts. Most childbirth preparation classes require exercises, and pelvic tilts are a top choice for many women seeking to move the baby into a snugger or closer position against the cervix to stimulate stronger contractions. Your doctor, midwife, nurse, or other healthcare provider may want you to do these exercises throughout your pregnancy because they help in other ways, such as improving your posture and relieving back pain. Most women begin doing these exercises during their third trimester. Again, talk to your healthcare provider, even during your first and second trimesters, to see if pelvic tilts are right for you.
Who Can Do Pelvic Tilts?
Anyone can benefit from pelvic tilts, even if they aren’t pregnant. Many physical trainers and exercise instructors include pelvic tilts in their routines. Pregnant women, however, benefit from them especially, and more so as the due date approaches.
Another important benefit of pelvic tilts is that they can help a baby rotate to a more favorable anterior position — in which the back of the baby’s head is facing Mom’s front — from which it is easier for babies to move through the birth canal.