Preparing for a Gentle Birth: How to Stretch Your Vagina
Renowned birthing coach, author, and founder of The Gentle Birth Method, Dr Gowri Motha, shares the amazingly simple and intelligent way of pre-stretching your vagina for the gentle release of your baby.
If you’re planning on a natural, vaginal delivery, vagina stretching is an important way to help ensure a gentle birth.
The pelvic floor muscles surrounding the vagina are elastic and can stretch and tighten. Certain events can lead to changes in vaginal tension, and this includes childbirth. While the muscles will naturally stretch while you’re giving birth, stretching beforehand can help lead to a smoother birthing experience. Vaginal stretching can also ensure that the vagina and perineum remain intact following childbirth.
How exactly does one stretch their vagina? There are a variety of vaginal stretching exercises and techniques, so you can be both mentally and physically prepared for giving birth. We’ll be taking a look at two of the most popular methods: vaginal dilators and The Gentle Birth Method.
Vaginal dilators are tube-shaped devices designed to help a woman stretch out the vagina. To use them effectively, you should gently insert them and then rotate it in wide circles. There are a variety of sizes available, so you can stretch out the back, middle, and front.
However, we recommend using a natural method to stretch the vagina before birth, while ensuring you are also prepared mentally. That’s where the Gentle Birth Method comes in.
The Gentle Birth Method
The Gentle Birth Method promotes a 360 degree approach to birth preparation. As such, there are many elements to this method beyond the vagina stretch. We will go over both the stretching technique as well as the other basic tenets of the method.
Vaginal Stretching Exercise
The Vaginal Stretch Technique is by far the most popular aspect of the Gentle Birth Method because it greatly increases confidence as mothers approach their due date. Most of my classes are full of pregnant mothers who have been referred to me by their friends, who have had an intact vagina and intact perineum after using my oils and vaginal stretching technique.
For many women, the idea of tearing can cause a lot of anxiety. By pre-stretching the vagina, you can mentally perceive that there is quite a lot of elasticity and space in the birth canal that can easily accommodate and allow the baby’s head to be born. This helps build confidence and it also helps prepare sensitive vaginal tissue for a natural and gentle birth.
This may sound far removed from standard medical care. However, it makes total sense that most women will do anything that has been proven to reduce tearing and damage of the most important and sensitive regions of their bodies in order to feel safe and confident during birthing. This technique is also important for future sexual health. A kind of self preservation, if you will.
Ready to try? Here’s the vaginal stretching exercise:
- Pre-oil the vagina with Ayurvedic oils or organic olive oil four hours prior to performing the vaginal stretch.
- Wash your hands well. Insert two fingers into your vagina up to the second knuckles. You stretch the vagina at the 6, 4 and 8 o’clock positions. Six times in each position breathing out as you perform the stretch, up to 1.5″ in each direction. Quite often, mothers start with just a small stretch in each direction and gradually build up to 1.5″ over 2 to 3 weeks.
- You can also use the Epi-no device – an inflatable balloon that can help train the lower vaginal muscles to stretch from 36 weeks onwards with ease.
In my practice, at 36 weeks a pelvic assessment is offered. The inner pelvic tissues are assessed and any fascial restrictions are unwound with a fascial unwinding technique. The mother and her partner (if present) are shown how to perform a simple vaginal stretching technique with vaginal oils. It is a time honored tradition in Ayurvedic medicine to also sedate the rectum to reduce the inflammation within the birthing zones with medicinal oils during the last 4 weeks of gestation.
I also teach the importance of sedating the pregnant mothers’ pelvic and rectal nerves with the use of a small rectal oil retention enema. When your baby is about to be born, your baby’s head presses quite firmly against the wall of your rectum and this is often the reason why birthing is uncomfortable.
I am happy to report that since the introduction of rectal oils,. I have observed that mothers report a minimal sensation of pressure on the back passage during second stage, leading to a much more comfortable birthing experience. Preparing your birthing passages from 36 weeks onwards builds your confidence that your birthing passages are indeed comfortable and elastic prior to giving birth.
Now that we’ve covered physical preparation, it’s important to look at mental preparation. We need to get rid of fear of birthing and embrace the truth that birth is a natural physiological reflex like breathing or emptying your bladder or bowels.
It is also good to know that a calm approach to birth also promotes the optimum fetal position of your baby within your womb. This is a very important factor that greatly contributes to a gentle birth.
I offer a series of classes and audio tracks that promote the building up of confidence with suggestions that help the pregnant mother view her inner body as totally intelligent and one that adapts all the way through pregnancy in such a way that her body readily opens at childbirth to give birth to the baby with ease and confidence.
The physical body also needs to be supple and free of fluid retention. Regular self care alongside sensible eating patterns throughout pregnancy will ensure that a baby is at an optimal birth weight for the mother. This promotes an optimal fetal position as well as the ability for the baby’s head to engage easily within the mother’s pelvis, resulting in a smooth birth.
General suppleness has several components. The most important ones being:
- A gluten free diet
- Gentle Birth Yoga with micro-movements
- Pregnancy-safe herbs and teas
- Core treatments such as Reflexology and Creative healing
- Cranio-sacral therapy and full body fascial unwinding techniques
- Bowen technique
- Ayurvedic massages– rice bolus – rice pudding massage as well as oil pouring over the lower back and sacrum
Preparing for a Gentle Birth
When preparing for baby, products like cribs and strollers are front of mind. But don’t forget about yourself, mama! Investing in a practical and stylish maternity wardrobe will help you look and feel fantastic. See our Maternity Wear section for jeans, tees, jumpsuits, belly supportwear and more.
Pregnancy can be such a beautiful and magical time as you get ready to bring a new life into the world. But it can also come with its fair share of difficulties and doubts, so it’s best to prepare your mind and your body for the changes they’re about to undergo. See The Tot Founder, Nasiba Adilova’s tips on how to prepare for pregnancy physically and mentally.
- Would you prefer to give birth in a hospital, a birthing center or at home? Will a doctor or a midwife deliver your baby? Our guide to childbirth choices will help you make the right decisions for your family.