It’s important to exercise during your pregnancy, not only to help build strength and stamina for your birth (and the 3rd trimester), but for your postpartum recovery as well! Here are my 6 top reasons why Prenatal Yoga compliments pregnancy, birth and the beyond!
1. Choosing the right exercises
There are some positions, movements and exercises that should be avoided during your pregnancy, even in your first trimester. Exercises like planks, crunches and sit ups that put intra-abdominal pressure on your 6-pack wall can exacerbate diastasis recti (a weakening of the integrity of the 6-pack wall).
Also, high impact exercises like jumping, skipping and even running, can put extra pressure on the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is already becoming weakened with the weight of baby in the third trimester. This is still relevant in the fourth trimester after baby is born. It’s not to say you should never run or jump during your pregnancy, but it might be wise to seek the professional opinion of a Pelvic Floor Physio to assess if your body can withstand the extra tension, especially in the later stages.
Prenatal Yoga movements are generally targeted towards strengthening your foundation, building strong core (not 6-pack) muscles, & connecting with your pelvic floor muscles. It’s also geared at opening the chest, standing tall and balancing the body. These types of exercises are all helpful with your postpartum recovery as well!
2. Benefits of the breath
Connecting with your breath is essential during birth. Why? It’s the breath that will provide that calm, peaceful state. It will also help you to manage the intensity of each contraction! So if pain is your biggest fear, know that your best tool is your powerful breath! Deep, repetitive breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your rest & digest state of being. All good things to activate during your birth (and postpartum)!
3. Find & follow your intuition through mindful movements
Many Prenatal Yoga classes guides you to follow your intuition, that all knowing voice inside of you! This translates to your birth tremendously! Trusting your body and baby can help you surrender to the intensity of birth, but it starts with finding and listening to your intuition!
4. Inward focus
Many elements of yoga practice invite you to gaze inward, focus on your body, mind and breath. This is needed to help the flow of oxytocin to progress. Increased oxytocin means contractions are longer, stronger and closer together. This is also essential to having a natural birth. It’s hard for most people to stay focussed inward though. There are many distractions all around us, especially if you’re moving to the hospital for your birth! Yoga helps to train the brain to stay ‘still’ and minimize distractions.
You’ll hear a lot of cues that speak to proper alignment in a yoga class. It’s important to maintain optimal alignment, especially as your belly becomes more bountiful! The tendency in the third trimester is to thrust the hips forward and tuck the tail under, with the shoulders hunching forward. This is not ideal for your postpartum recovery. It’s impossible to connect to your core and pelvic floor muscles properly without proper alignment!
6. Connecting to your body & baby
Life is busy and sometimes gets in the way of taking the time to connect with our bodies and our babies. Prenatal Yoga helps you to do both! It provides a safe setting to exist with your baby, body and breath!