Yoga Exercise During Pregnancy
This is a guest post from www.alesrybarik.com
Becoming a mother is a personal journey for many women. It is a time of growth and transformation. Yoga is a tool that can benefit the expectant mother to embrace this time. Their first introduction to yoga is often during pregnancy. It is undoubtedly ideal for pregnant women – health professionals, parenting sites and the media all fully endorse and encourage it. But, before you rush out to buy that mat and sign up for a course, be aware of guidelines for safety, as yoga during pregnancy is not the same as regular yoga. Not all classes meet your needs and having some awareness of what can help to meet those needs, helps you choose the right course.
Yoga is more than a workout, more than being flexible and strong. It is about how we can live our life in a positive way. A yoga class is a sacred space. It will bring greater self-awareness to the mother. She will discover the silence of inner peace and that it is possible to communicate with her unborn baby and to be aware of that powerful link that exists from the very beginning of her pregnancy. Practising yoga during pregnancy benefits mother and baby in many ways.
Physical Benefits during Pregnancy
- Improves balance, co-ordination, posture and stability. Good posture ensures that the weight is transferred through the lower back to the hips, legs and feet, where it is discharged into the ground.
- Deep, slow breathing ensures an abundant supply of oxygen and a better life force for you and your baby.
- Helps to regulate blood pressure and prevents rapid weight gain.
- Can relieve nausea and heartburn and reduce swelling of the feet, hands and face.
- Postures, called ‘asanas’, improve physical body strength and stamina. The extra weight of the growing baby and uterus alters the postural dynamics of the body so that the natural curves of the spine are exaggerated. Yoga opens up the chest, making it easier to elongate the spine and stand tall. Postures can help with restless legs and cramping too.
- Enhances physical strength, stamina and fitness for labour. Research has shown that flexibility and fitness can result in shorter labour times, fewer medical interventions and less exhaustion during labour.
- Strengthens and tones the pelvic floor for birth and beyond.
Mental Benefits during Pregnancy
- Regular practice of relaxation and meditation deeply relaxes the mind.
- Releases fear, tension, stress and anxiety.
- Enhances concentration and focuses clear, creative thoughts, giving a positive emotional outlook for birth.
- Helps to build self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Sleep patterns improve greatly.
- Provides a supportive atmosphere where expectant mothers can meet others in a similar position. Many make new friends. Coming into a hospital setting on a weekly basis can give added reassurance.
- Helps to alleviate post-partum blues as one has learned relaxation techniques to cope if things get on top of you.
Benefits for Labor and Birth
- Helps mum to focus within her own centre becoming more intuitive and instinctive.
- Helps her surrender to the powerful forces within her own body, to let go and allow the baby to move down the birth canal.
- Enables her complete freedom and comfort to use her body in positions she has practised in class, thus encouraging an optimum position for baby to birth easier.
- Deep, slow breathing increases oxytocin levels, which provide resources for pain management and increased oxygen to brain and uterus.
- Promotes confidence, strength and power around the whole process of giving birth.
All of these benefits extend way beyond birth and into those early challenging weeks where you will be very busy with broken sleep. Yoga can assist greatly in relaxing when baby is feeding and sleeping. If you plan to breastfeed, lactation improves so there is little problem with supply. Relaxed yoga mums tend to have relaxed easy babies. Yoga in pregnancy has increased hugely in popularity over the years, which is very encouraging. Women know it makes a difference, and many come back again and again to renew these beneficial qualities.
Yoga is best started after 16 weeks’ gestation as the placenta is safely embedded in the uterine wall at this time, but it can safely be done until full term. Many women find it more reassuring to attend mid to late trimester. A regular practice is the best way to achieve results and it also opens up a space in your day for you and your baby. Similarly, creating a ‘yoga corner’ in your home is also conducive to regular practice. Finding a class that is adaptable to your needs and lifestyle is important. A qualified teacher who is passionate, enthused and knowledgeable will guide you to make a shift from a state of fear to one of love so that your birth becomes one of joy, without fear. Yoga classes are available in many hospitals around the country, run by midwives, and often at a reduced rate to facilitate all.