11 Jun How Releasing Jaw Tension Prepares Your Pelvis for Labour & Birth
by Dr. Christine Matheson, ND
I was first introduced to the INCREDIBLE inter-connection between the jaw and the pelvic floor by my osteopath many years ago. Who knew that the two are so closely linked? It turns out that the alignment and relaxation of your jaw and pelvic floor deeply affect one another– to the point that I’ve observed that 90% (!!) of mamas-to-be that I see in clinic have mentioned concerns of grinding, clenching, or pain related to the jaw (such as TMJ or TMD) and need to wear a night guard.
There’s an idea called “sphincter law” coined by Ina May Gaskin, natural childbirth expert, that explains that if your jaw and throat are relaxed then so will your buttocks and pelvis. Pregnant women are often advised by their midwives, doulas, and pelvic floor physiotherapists to relax their jaws to prepare the pelvis for labour. As well, encouraging women to sigh or relax their throat and jaw during labour helps to release pelvic tension. This simple technique can go a LONG way in preparing for labour and birth!
This connection between the jaw and pelvis has made it a priority for me as a naturopathic doctor to provide pregnant patients solid strategies to help release jaw tension. I want to introduce 10 jaw-releasing strategies for you to take action in helping you to prepare your pelvis for labour and birth.
1. Jaw relaxation visualizations and meditations
I was amazed when I googled “jaw relaxation meditations” to see there are many resources available to guide you on brief contemplative exercises to unlearn the tension you may be holding in your mouth or jaw (see below for some recommendations). Keeping a jaw tension diary is also key! Since we are all creatures of habit, you may hold your jaw tightly while working on your computer versus someone else who may hold during exercise.
2. Massage the inside of your mouth
With clean hands and clipped fingernails, massage the inside of your mouth — particularly the large muscles at the back of the mouth that are responsible for opening and closing the jaw. You will be amazed how hard these muscles can feel, almost like bones!! Simply holding gentle pressure there can start to release some of the muscle tension.
3. Yoga poses
Yoga poses that can integrate both the jaw and pelvis include squatting poses, cat cow pose & any poses that stretch the neck (see below for recommendations).
4. Deep breathing
Deep breathing will always bring you greater body awareness and remind you to open your jaw and breath more into your belly! PRO TIP: inhale for 4 counts, hold the inhale at the top for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts and hold the exhale at the bottom for 4 counts before inhaling again. This technique immediately makes the breath deeper and more meditative!
5. Consider seeing a holistically minded dentist
See someone who can assess the function of your jaw. They may also refer you to an osteopath or specialist to decrease jaw tension and may design a tailored night guard for you to prevent damage to your teeth from grinding or clenching.
6. Sing and Sigh
Sing (‘Let it go’ would be a great song suggestion!) and Sigh more often to get comfortable releasing tightness in your jaw and mouth.
7. Set a timer
Set a timer when working (every 10-15 min) and make sure to check in to see if your jaw is relaxed and get up and move your body, particularly your pelvis.
8. Walking meditation
Do a 20 min walking meditation while being conscious of your jaw/mouth and pelvic movement patterns or tendencies.
9. Consider a professional referral
Consider a professional referral to an osteopath, cranial sacral therapist or pelvic floor physiotherapist for further support. Remember that you are not alone and you can always ask for help!
10. Remind yourself that simply practicing the daily awareness of how you’re holding your jaw is a great start
You’ve got this. Good luck mama!!!
About Our Blogger
Dr. Christine Matheson, ND practices at Vital Physiotherapy & Wellness as a licensed naturopathic doctor, Arvigo ® Practitioner and a certified Kundalini yoga instructor. She has a special focus on holistic solutions for women’s digestive, pelvic, gynecological and fertility health with an emphasis on self-care strategies and healthy mindset. Her signature service is the ‘Belly Be Well Program’ combining individualized naturopathic care with the benefits of Arvigo®Therapy (an external massage technique to align and decongest the abdominal and pelvic organs).
- Get Christine’s FREE Video Training & Checklist of Her Top Tips to Start Getting Your Belly Well www.getbellywell.com
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- Contact Dr. Matheson directly at christine@christinemathesonND.com