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Chapter 1. Yoga for Labor
I’ve been practicing yoga for several years now, and absolutely swear by its benefits. That’s why I plan to do it for the rest of my life. One thing I noticed and was somewhat surprised at, was how many times I would see expectant moms still participating in restricted movements well into their pregnancies. That is, they didn’t stop yoga, but rather performed specific poses tailored to them by the instructor.
Then I discovered prenatal yoga. I realized many moms actually participate in yoga to help them to strengthen their bodies to prepare for birth. According to fitpregnancy.com, prenatal yoga has many modified moves that are both safe and beneficial to expectant moms. Always consult with your doctor first before starting any exercise or stretching program, especially if you’re pregnant.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga can help with the physiological changes your body will face when pregnant, such as upper back pain during pregnancy and a shifted center of gravity. Speaking from experience, yoga will help ease aches and pains, lengthen muscles and build up the core, back, and leg strength which is all important for giving birth!
You will also find that yoga can help release the hip muscles, meaning a possibly ‘easier’ labor and delivery.
According to fitpregnancy.com,
“Even if you’ve never done yoga before, the modified moves taught in prenatal yoga are both safe and beneficial to expectant moms. Plus, women with difficult pregnancies may find comfort in yoga’s gentle motions and breathing.”
Here are some popular poses many pregnant women try. Remember to always check with your doctor first before trying any of these.
Section 1. Standing Mountain Pose
Begin with your feet slightly further than hip-width apart, soft knees and feet forward. Place your hands together in front of your chest and breathe deeply.
- Inhale and sweep your arms out and overhead, bending back slightly.
- Exhale and stand upright, returning your hands to your heart center.
- Repeat for 10 full breaths.
Section 2. Supported Triangle Pose
- Begin by standing with a long stance, with your right foot pointing forward and left foot facing out. Bend your left leg and rest your left hand on your thigh.
- Inhale, then exhale as you lift your right arm above your shoulder and turn your head, eyes looking up. Place your left arm on your thigh for support (next slide).
- Hold for 1 full breath as you lower your right arm and straighten your leg. Return to starting position, then repeat for 5 full breaths.
- Reverse feet and repeat sequence on the other side.
Section 3. Supported Squat Pose
- First, you’ll want to have a stack of pillows and/or cushions on the floor behind you. With a wide stance, lower yourself down by bending at the knees, so you end up in a squat position as you reach and sit on the pillows.
- Place your palms together at your chest.
- Breathe deeply and relax your body.
- If you’re experiencing signs of premature labor, do not begin this pose.
Section 4. Cat Pose
- Kneel on all fours, abdominals drawn in. Inhale and gently arch your back, tipping your tailbone up, eyes looking up toward the sky (previous slide).
- Exhale and round your back as you tuck your chin in toward your chest (this slide).
- Sit back on your heels into child’s pose and relax for 1 breath (next slide).
- Repeat sequence 10 times.
Section 5. Belly Breathing
- Sitting tall on a pillow or cushion, cross your legs and place your hands on your lower belly.
- With closed eyes, breathe in deeply through the nose, relax your whole body, and exhale slowly.
Remember, if something doesn’t feel right, stop doing it. When you talk to your doctor about whether prenatal yoga is right for you, he or she may give you other poses that will help you.