What is the Winner Flow?
The Winner Flow is a biocompatible mouthpiece that is used during breathing exercises. It was first designed by a French physiotherapist to help with rehabilitation and for toning the abdominal pelvic floor. (acceptable in surgical rooms). It is now being used to help women in labour and during the birth of their baby (or babies) to control their breathing. But this method of breathing helps not only with the actual breathing it also helps to engage the abdominal muscles…and during birth it has an amazing effect which I have been able to see for my own eyes recently!
The mouthpiece can be set to different resistance ‘levels’ which can be changed as the labour progress in order to get the abdominal muscles to engage more and to help refocus breathing.
It can be sterilised, although it is not to be used by multiple users. It is also CE certified.
How can it help during pregnancy?
o Helps with intestinal transit (reduce constipation)
o Respiratory capacity is maintained or even increased
o Helps maintain good abdominal muscle tone and may prevent Diastis Recti (separation of those abdominal muscles responsible for the ‘6-pack’)
o Helps with relaxation
o Helps with sleep
o Prevents urinary leaks
*The more you practice the more instinctive it becomes*
How Does It Help During Labour?
o It helps to improve oxygenation to both mother and baby and consequently helps to regulate the baby’s heart rate during labour & birth
o It helps to dilate the cervix
o It has been noted to reduce this phase by 35%-45% when using the Winner Flow
o It helps baby to get into a good position as the abdominal muscles are being using correctly
o It helps to relieve pressure from the perineum
o It helps to give control to the woman during labour & birth
o It’s helpful for inductions too… after all, your body has to do all the same things as a physiological labour.
Can it Help During Pushing? Absolutely!
o Research has shown that coached pushing/ Valsalva pushing/ Active pushing restricts oxygen to the mother and therefor restricts oxygen to the baby. This results in ‘fetal distress’ but also an increase in risk of tearing, among other things. And so,
o When using the Winner Flow, you are using the power of the abdominal muscles (as well as the contractions of the uterus) to birth baby which makes for an easier birth. And as this ‘breathing baby out’ does not require the mother to limit her breathing, the baby’s heart rate is not affected. There is no unnecessary ‘forceful’ pushing, only what your body is doing naturally.
o Reduced need for an episiotomy, instrumental birth C-Section.
Can I Use it With an Epidural? Again, absolutely!
o The epidural provides comfort but your body is still working to birth your baby.
o During the labour: If you are not feeling any of the surges/ contractions, ask your care provider to help you with this. Once one is starting, begin to use your Winner Flow in the way you have practiced during the pregnancy. This will enable your body to work not only with the surges/ contractions, but also with the power of the abdominal muscles. And as before, if mother is well oxygenated then baby will also be.
o Pushing phase: If you are starting to feel pressure (or are indeed pushing), continue to use your Winner Flow to help ‘breath’ baby down.
Is is suitable for a Caesarean Section? Yes.
o The Winner Flow can be used during a Caesarean Section.
o Whether is be a planned C-Section or a Gentle C-Section, the Winner Flow still has the benefit of keeping the mother calm. And as we have established, if the mother is well oxygenated, the more oxygen she is giving to her baby.
o In the event of a Gentle C-Section, as the Winner Flow helps the abdominal muscles to work to their capacity, it may be possible to help your baby be born by using the Winner Flow. A Gentle Caesarean give the baby time to be born through the incision, in a similar way to being born through the birth canal.
o I always recommend that women see a physiotherapist specialising in women’s health around 6-8 weeks after having a baby. It takes a while for your body to recover and a physiotherapist is the best person to guide you. Do bring your Winner Flow with you and ask what resistance level best suits you. Remember it was first designed by a physiotherapist to help tone the abdominal pelvic floor.
This is considered a medical device, and so, training is needed on how to use it. It does not come with instructions when you order it, no matter where you order it from. If you would like to book a training session, please go to www.birthfit.ie/book-online to reserve your place.