If you’ve had a baby before, you understand there are times during pregnancy that are less than comfortable. Pelvic tilt exercises during pregnancy can help ease that discomfort, and even help delivery go more smoothly.
As the baby grows, your body has to accommodate by making room for this adorable human. And, when it’s time, being strong and flexible can help get that big baby delivered.
This article is all about how pelvic tilt exercises help prepare your body to give birth and soothe the aches and pains of pregnancy.
I’ve also put together a big list of ways to do pelvic tilts, with pictures to demonstrate, so you can find the version of this exercise that’s most comfortable for any stage of your pregnancy.
What is a pelvic tilt exercise?
A pelvic tilt is an exercise that can be done during pregnancy to strengthen the abdominal wall, pelvic floor, and back. It can help keep everything nice and loose, creating less tension in the back.
Pelvic tilt exercise benefits for pregnancy and birth
Pelvic tilts during pregnancy can increase mobility and create more space and balance for the baby. Doing these exercises regularly can also help the baby rotate into the ideal position for labor.
These exercises can feel great for the lower back with the added bonus of being quick and easy to add to your nightly or morning routine.
Here are a few of the main reasons to consider adding pelvic tilts into your pregnancy journey:
Reducing pain in the lower back and pelvis
Pelvic tilts can lessen the pain in your back, pelvis, and round ligament area. Performing these simple moves every day can help the uterus stretch and release tension.
Round ligament pain is a common discomfort during pregnancy. Round ligaments are thick band-like tissue that connects to the pelvic floor from the uterus. As the uterus stretches, these bands pull and stretch with it, causing pain that runs through the belly all the way to the pelvic floor.
It may sound crazy to stretch an already overstretched muscle, but pelvic tilts offer a lot of benefit for this particular pregnancy discomfort.
Pelvic tilts both sitting and standing can also create flexibility and ease the discomfort that some people feel in their back during pregnancy.
Increasing comfort during pregnancy
Simple day-to-day routines and chores can leave the body feeling tired and achy during pregnancy. Hormones are high during pregnancy, and as they rise, it is common for the pelvis to shift unevenly, causing pelvic joint point and stiffness. When this happens it is called SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction).
SPD most commonly begins mid-pregnancy. You will most likely feel it when you are walking, using one leg in a fast motion, or adding pressure such as climbing stairs, getting out of the car, or holding a toddler on one hip.
Practicing daily pelvic tilts and visiting a chiropractor can help promote overall comfort while the body changes and the baby grows, and help avoid SPD symptoms.
Improving balance in the pelvis
When a baby is not in a great position in the pelvis, it can create tension and discomfort. It can cause pain in the back and hips that could be avoided with better positioning.
Although poor positioning of the baby is one of the main reasons for C-section, it is important to know that babies can enter the pelvis in all different positions, including posterior. Posterior, when the back of the baby’s head is facing the birthing parents’ back, is one of the hardest positions to deliver vaginally.
Doing pelvic tilts before and during labor can help encourage the baby to find the best route to deliver, and ease the discomfort you may be feeling.
Pelvic tilt exercises help the baby find balance and optimal positioning in the pelvis.
Having an unbalanced baby in labor can also prolong labor or cause failure to progress. Pelvic tilts can help shorten labor duration because the baby tends to move into position more easily.
Pelvic tilt safety
Pelvic tilt exercises during all stages of pregnancy have been found to be safe. However, if you have had back surgery or your pregnancy is considered to be high risk and your provider has advised against any exercises, it may not be a good idea to do pelvic tilts.
Because the pelvic tilt exercise is often done on hands and knees, the wrists and knees may become tired or be sore. If you are uncomfortable, you can try standing, sitting, or place padding under your wrists and knees.
Anytime you introduce a new activity, it is a good idea to check with your provider first and confirm that it is safe for your individual health circumstances and pregnancy.
If you have been cleared to do pelvic tilts, you can do them every day and even multiple times a day. Follow what your body is saying, not doing too much, but if you’re in discomfort you can do them as much as you would like.
How to do Pelvic Tilts During Pregnancy
There are many ways to do the pelvic tilt exercises including standing, sitting, and lying down. Sometimes being on the hands and knees is a little more uncomfortable, so laying down or sitting in a chair may feel better and it’s just as effective.
Here are five different ways you can do pelvic exercises during pregnancy.
1. Standing pelvic tilt
Start by standing up with your back against a wall. Take a couple of deep breaths, filling your belly and lungs full of air. As you exhale, drop your shoulders and soften your belly muscles.
Once you feel relaxed, start by placing your hands on your pelvis and then take another deep breath in, slightly arching your back. Exhale as you tuck your tailbone in pulling your pelvis anterior.
You may find that your shoulders curl around to the front slightly. Try to keep them as aligned and upright as possible.
Continue to do this back and forth five to ten times, being careful not to arch your back too much.
2. Sitting pelvic tilt exercise
Sitting on the edge of a chair or exercise ball, take a deep breath and tilt the pelvis forward, creating a slight arch in your back.
On the exhale of your breath, rotate the tailbone in and pull your belly button to your spine.
Continue to do this five to ten times.
3. Floor pelvic tilt
Lying down on the ground can be unsafe at the end of pregnancy, so be sure to confirm with your medical provider when they would like you to stop lying on your back. This exercise is a great one to do until you have reached that point in your pregnancy.
Start by lying on the floor, taking a deep breath in and out, releasing the rib cage and pelvis into a neutral position. Slightly pull your belly button in, tilting your tailbone in and pulling your pelvis up towards the sky, then release by rotating your pelvis towards your knees lifting your lower back off the ground. This can be done five to ten times.
4. Pelvic tilt lying on an exercise ball
Once you are unable to do the pelvic tilt on the floor or if you are uncomfortable being on the ground, the ball tilt is a great alternative. Start by placing the exercise ball near a wall so it does not roll away. Always start by sitting on the ground with your upper shoulders against the ball.
Once you are situated on the ball and feel secure, begin by pulling your body up and tucking your pelvis/tailbone in with your shoulders on the birth ball. The ball should push against the wall, helping you stay balanced.
On the exhale, lower your body down, placing your bum back on the ground pulling your lower back towards the ball. Repeat as many times as you would like.
5. Hands and Knees Pelvic rock
Moving down to the ground on your hands and knees, find yourself in a neutral spine position.
Place your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
Take a deep breath in and out. Begin again and on your exhale curl your back around tucking your pelvis. On your inhale, slightly arch your back, rotating your pelvis back out and up (be careful not to arch too much).
Continue this five to ten times, ending in child’s pose.
Can pelvic tilts help my baby get in a better position?
The more we create balance in the pelvis the better. As you do pelvic tilts, you are helping make sure the pelvis is aligned and equally, creating balance for the baby in the pelvis.
Many times, people are diagnosed with CPD and told their pelvis is too small, when a lot of the time, the baby was not in an ideal position. If you have been told your baby is not head down, in a breech or transverse position, pelvic tilts may help your baby turn.
If you’re planning a vaginal birth after Cesarean, learn more about what you can do prepare in our VBAC Course for Parents.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about pelvic tilts during pregnancy.
When should you start doing pelvic tilt exercises in pregnancy?
You can start doing pelvic tilts at any point in your pregnancy. It is most common to begin after the first trimester, because this tends to be when the body starts feeling more discomfort due to the growing baby. Always be sure to confirm with your medical provider that you are cleared to do pelvic tilt exercises or pelvic rocks.
How can I strengthen my pelvic tilt?
Practicing is the best way you can boost your pelvic tilt strength. You can also check in with a pelvic floor therapist to get personal guidance on pushing and strengthening your pelvic floor that may benefit you both during and after birth. Also, learn more about the pelvic dynamics and how the pelvis functions during birth.
How do you do pelvic rocks when pregnant?
No matter what position you are in, pelvic tilts are quite simple to do. Start by taking a deep breath in. On the exhale, rotate your pelvis back, and on the inhale, rotate your pelvis in slightly, pulling the tailbone in.
Can I do plank exercises while pregnant?
Plank exercises are usually considered safe during pregnancy. It is essential to confirm with your medical provider before you start, to assure that it is safe for you and your individual circumstances.