Prenatal yoga is a great way to prepare your body and mind for childbirth
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines postures (asanas), deep breathing (pranayama) and meditation. If you are pregnant and looking for ways to relax, stay fit and prepare your body and mind for labor, a weekly Prenatal Yoga class might be just what you are looking for. Prenatal yoga, although gentle, can at times be an active and energetic practice: it is uniquely designed to strengthen and promote flexibility and endurance in the muscles that are required to carry you through pregnancy, labor and delivery. Prenatal Yoga classes include a range of poses, breathing exercises and mediation/mindfulness that are specifically designed for the expectant mother. There are countless benefits to participating in prenatal yoga including; improving sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, supporting the changing body, providing relief from common pregnancy ailments (nausea, headaches, low back pain, pelvic pain, shortness of breath), increasing maternal comfort during labor and delivery and more. Read on to learn more about my top 3!
3 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
1. Reduces stress and anxiety
By allowing expectant mothers space and time to slow down and connect with their bodies, a regular prenatal yoga class has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Pranayama, or deep breathing, activates the parasympathetic nervous system that causes a physiological response. This response is characterized by a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, metabolic rate, and oxygen consumption. A study published in the journal “Depression and Anxiety”, from Manchester and Newcastle Universities, showed that “women who attended a yoga class a week for eight weeks had decreased anxiety scores compared to the control group who received normal antenatal treatment”.
2. Supports Changing Body/Promotes Connection to our Pelvic Floor
It is no secret that the pregnant body goes through numerous changes at an accelerated pace; physical, hormonal and psychological. Prenatal yoga classes focus on the breath, proper alignment cueing and specific postures that are designed to increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of the muscles you need to carry out pregnancy and childbirth. Prenatal yoga focuses largely on the muscles of the lower body and the pelvic floor which are essential for carrying the ever growing belly and delivering a baby. For example, in order to deliver a baby it is important that you, the expectant mother, are able to relax and release your glutes and pelvic floor while also engaging your lower and transverse abdominals. The combination of a relaxed pelvic floor and strong abdominals is the most effective way to push a baby out. Prenatal yoga teaches you pelvic floor awareness as well as how to properly connect to your pelvic floor through breath
awareness and visualizations.
3. Increases Maternal Comfort During Labor and Delivery
Prenatal Yoga teaches expectant mothers that they can trust their bodies to do what is needed, to “open up” for labor and birth. Deep and mindful yogic breathing can help the body let go and relax, allowing your body to do what it instinctively knows how to do, give birth. The article Yoga During Pregnancy: Effects on maternal comfort, labor pain and birth outcomes, states: “Yoga, an intervention based on mind and body interconnectedness, is one non-pharmacological method that can be used for assisting with pain reduction during labor. Prenatal yoga can help women become accustomed to the natural, instinctive yoga-like positions often preferred during labor and delivery. When the pain of contractions exceeds one’s usual pain threshold, yoga provides an opportunity to explore one’s response to pain and to develop relaxation and coping strategies. Therefore, yoga can be an effective way to empower women during labor and to assist in attaining and maintaining their optimal level of functioning”.
When you consider all the amazing benefits of prenatal yoga to both you and your baby, it’s a wonder prenatal yoga is not part of our current health care system’s prenatal care.
Yoga during pregnancy: Effects on maternal comfort, labor pain and birth outcomes; Songporn Chuntharapata, Wongchan Petpichetchianb, Urai Hatthakitc