As a prenatal Yoga instructor (at the Willow Studio in Peterborough), there are a few key yoga poses that I like to teach every class. I believe that in preparing the body to support a healthy pregnancy, you will have an advantage during childbirth. If you can join a prenatal yoga class, that would be really beneficial, for body, mind and a sense of community. But if you don’t have the time or resources, do a little home practice as often as you can, even if that is just for 5 minutes before bed to ease some body aches and prepare yourself for relaxation.
Here are 5 poses I suggest practicing regularly:
This is a nice deep squat and hip opener, wonderful for preparing for birth. If you are in your third trimester, try sitting on yoga blocks (or a stack of books). If you find you can’t get your heals to touch the ground, don’t fret, just fold up your mat or use a blanket under your heals for support. If your belly is big and it is uncomfortable to have your hands in prayer pose, connect your elbows to the inside of your knees, straiten arms and shine palms forward.
2. Cat / Table
Cat and table (as opposed to cow) can be practiced with your core breath, which works to prepare and strengthen your pelvic floor before or after birth. Inhale to relax PF (pelvic floor) and lift chest and gaze, exhale to lift PF, press into hands and round through the spine. Because there is already so much pressure put on your spine, try to keep back as flat as possible to avoid the excess weight in your belly pulling down even more on your spine. You can also make this movement more dynamic and sway your hips, really whatever movement feels good for your hips and spine.
3. Child’s Pose
Melt down into child’s pose, make sure to keep you knees nice and wide to accommodate for your belly, and feel free to use pillows under your bum and/or chest. Rest your head down and surrender to this pose. Take some deep inhales through your nose and slow exhales out of your mouth. A great pose to fully relax your PF and focus on a flower bloom breath (picture flower blooming out of vagina on inhale, and that flower staying open on exhale – I know, funny thing to picture 😛 ). Many women hold a lot of tension in their PF’s, and really need to focus on releasing tension through regular and intentional flower bloom breaths to prepare for birth. I recommend seeing a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist prenatally to check in with your situation (see my resources page for Pelvic Floor Physio’s in Peterborough).
4. Bridge Pose
Strengthen your glutes with bridge pose, either holding it with your bum lifted or lift and lower your hips. Bringing your core breath in, inhale and relax to prepare, exhale to engage PF and lift hips up. Make sure knees are hip-width apart and keep you gaze on the rise and fall of your belly. Holding this pose (usually supported with a pillow under your bum), can also help spin a breech baby. Here is more detailed information from Spinning Babies on poses that can be done to spin a breech baby.
5. Savasana (aka rest time)
Some would argue that the most important yoga pose is savasana. However you are comfortable, use lots of props, pillows between knees and under head if you’re on your side. If your are early in your pregnancy and comfortable on your back, go ahead, but later on in pregnancy, it’s a good idea to lay on your left side. Close your eyes and bliss out, maybe you can even do this in bed and drift off to sleep.
Any questions about these poses or any others during pregnancy? Send me an email, I’d love to answer any questions 🙂