If you haven’t done yoga before then you might just think it’s all about stretching and relaxing. What you might not know is that yoga has many wonderful, positive impacts for women during pregnancy. Here are five unexpected ways yoga can benefit you when you are expecting…
1. Correct posture and positioning
When you are pregnant your body is changing on a daily basis with all the additional weight coming into the front of your body (think belly and boobs!). Many women unknowingly change their posture to compensate, causing an exaggerated s-bend in the lower back and rounding of the shoulders. In a yoga class you really focus on correct posture as well as strengthening the legs and core to prevent lower back problems.
Correct posture not only protects your body but also helps with Optimal Fetal Positioning. Put simply, this is all about getting your baby into the best possible position ready for the birth – ideally an ‘anterior position’ with baby’s spine facing the outside of your belly. Unlike our grandparents’ generation, our modern lifestyle involves a lot of sitting (at a desk, in a car, slouching on the sofa) which combined with poor posture has led to a much higher rate of ‘posterior’ labours (baby’s spine against mum’s spine instead of the other way around). This causes significant back pain for the labouring woman. Several prenatal yoga poses are designed to assist with correct positioning of the baby.
2. Boost your confidence and prepare your mind for the labour and birth
You will learn and practice breathing techniques and positions for labour which will help prepare mentally you for the big day. You will also learn relaxation techniques which can help you to stay centred if you start to feel out of control during the labour. Through the yoga poses you learn to listen to and trust your body, knowing that your body is perfectly designed and capable of birthing your baby.
3. Connect with your baby
There’s a nursery to create, a baby shower to organise, and appointments galore. So much to do to get ready for baby’s arrival you can forget to really tune in to your baby. It’s also quite hard for first-time mums to think beyond the birth. A yoga class gives you a whole hour of special time to turn your attention inwards, learning to listen to and connect with your baby. According to experts, everything the pregnant mother feels and thinks is communicated through neurohormones to her unborn child, just as surely as are alcohol and nicotine. So relaxation, positive thinking and connection can nurture a healthier and happier child during pregnancy.
4. Build your pelvic floor muscles
Pre-pregnancy most women don’t give their pelvic floor muscles a second thought. But when you are pregnant, you are constantly reminded to do your pelvic floor exercises. And for good reason – pregnancy and birth places them under enormous strain. During a yoga class particular poses help you to become familiar with your pelvic floor so you can learn how to activate these muscles correctly.
5. Find your community
It’s lovely to be able to share this special journey of pregnancy into motherhood with other women from your local area. There is often time to chat with the other ladies after the class to share your experiences, tips and form new friendships.
If you are pregnant and considering yoga you have many options available to you. From local yoga studios, to online videos and downloadable apps there is a way to learn yoga no matter your needs or
location. Remember with all pregnancy exercise to be mindful of your current fitness level and if you
have any concerns before starting, during exercising or post exercise please speak with your midwife.
From me to you, I wish you a yoga-filled pregnancy!
About the Author: Caroline Bagga is mum to two beautiful girls (aged 3 and 8 months). She teaches Pregnancy Yoga and runs Mums & Bub classes and yoga retreats across Sydney. Check out her timetable and online Pregnancy Yoga video. You can also find yoga tips and information on the Mother Nurture Yoga Facebook page.