with 6 Comments

The psoas.  If you are like me, the first time I heard this word, I had no idea what it was and what, if anything, it had to do with birth.  But I’ve learned since, that a prenatal psoas release can be an important stretch.

prenatal psoas stretch

What can we do about  a tight psoas during pregnancy

There are some stretches that everyone should be doing, but pregnant women should be doing them with the idea that it will help create an easier birth and help relieve psoas pain during pregnancy. The first thing that needs to be done is a psoas release. Basically, it is just allowing your muscles to relax.

First the Psoas Stretch

Click for more Prenatal and Pregnancy Stretches

These should be added to our daily exercise routine.

Second: The Importance of the Psoas Muscle in Pregnancy

Essentially, the psoas is a muscle that attaches at your thoracic (mid back) bones and your femur (upper thigh bone). A few important points to note:

1) The psoas act like a shelf for the internal organs. Because of this, a tight psoas can affect the space within the abdomen.

2) A tight psoas can limit the range of motion in the spine, pelvis and legs. This can then limit the ability to assume positions in birth that may be beneficial.

3) Tight psoas also decrease circulation and innervation to the uterus and other organs which may cause more problems with pain and function during labor.


A note on fear and pain and the psoas

Pain which leads to fear, can lead to the tightening of the psoas, which then has the consequences listed above. Learning to relax the psoas as well as the rest of the body is important, not just for controlling pain, but for helping our body to function optimally for birth. This is important for a mom who is working on a natural birth, as well as a mom who has an epidural. Being free from pain does not equal being free from fear and anxiety. Thus, learning techniques such as progressive relaxation, deep breathing, mindfulness training, along with therapies such as aromatherapy, reflexology and hydrotherapy(the use of hot water to control pain) is a big part of helping a woman in labor no matter their choices(all of these are taught in the certification course).

Click for more Prenatal and Pregnancy Stretches



Follow Rachel Leavitt:

Rachel has worked as a register nurse (BSN from University of Utah) since 2004 with a work history in Labor and Delivery, NICU and Postpartum Care. She is also the founder of New Beginnings Doula Training which she organized in 2011. When she's not busy being a mother and grandmother, she can be found reading research papers related to some aspect of childbirth.

6 Responses

  1. Victoria
    | Reply

    I’m 32 weeks pregnant and my yoga instructor thinks that some hip/pelvis pain I’ve been having is my Psoas muscle. Thanks for the tips! Planning a natural birth and I want to be in the best shape possible!

    • Rachel
      | Reply

      Hopefully some of these exercises help. I’ve had some success with my clients. Best of luck to you.

  2. Lori
    | Reply

    Hi! The exercise links go to the home page of the blog/site with multiple articles/links – can you change the link to go directly to the exercises please? I don’t know where to start clicking to find them!


    • Rachel
      | Reply

      These have been updated and you should be able to get to the correct articles.

  3. Jessica
    | Reply


    Having trouble finding the exercises, it’s still going to the blog. Can you change the link to go directly to the exercises?

    Thank you!

    • Rachel
      | Reply

      Thanks Jessica, Links have been updated! Sorry it took us a little while to do so.

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