Posted by: Trudy Prevost | September 3, 2013

Tips for Pregnancy Yoga

Belles

A typical class starts with a short relaxation during which we focus on tuning into the body, the breath and the baby. Then we practice yoga exercises that gently strengthen and stretch the body; as we practice; we share tips and hints on pregnancy and childbirth. We close with a special guided relaxation technique that can help during the labour and birthing process. It can be a chance to meet other soon to be mothers and have a great time in a warm caring environment.

Keep in mind that this is a time to become more in tune with your body and really listen to what it needs to do. Go slowly and softly especially as the pregnancy advances; keeping in mind your body can change from day to day. Never feel pain; don’t push, press or strain into a pose; just relax and reap the benefits. If a pose feels the least bit uncomfortable (strange, awkward, funny) talk to your teacher to find new ways of doing it that are more comfortable. This applies for a few months after pregnancy too. If something does not feel right, or if your baby seems to object to a certain pose, do not do the pose. Keep in mind every pregnancy is different.

During pregnancy increased levels of the hormones relaxin, elastin, estrogen and progesterone soften the connective tissue surrounding the joints. This is to allow the pelvic joints to expand to accommodate the baby passing through the pelvic inlet during birth but unfortunately, all the weight bearing joints are affected too –especially the knees, ankles and hips. Stretches should not be taken to maximum resistance, just mild tension. Forceful stretches of the inner thighs are to be avoided.

With each trimester; yoga postures are modified to accommodate the growth of the abdominal area. Stretching the belly too much is not a good idea, as the ligaments are already being stretched and you don’t want to risk tearing them. Avoid any movements that ‘cramp, constrict, compress, or overstretch’ the belly.

Avoid lying on the tummy as soon as it feels uncomfortable; usually after the 1st trimester. However, if you feel any discomfort, even in the first trimester, you should always err on the side of caution. Some participants enjoy lying on their side with the top leg bent and knee on the floor in front when tummy poses are being done in a regular class; other adaptations will be presented in class.

During the 2nd and 3rd trimester, there is some open debate as to whether a pregnant mother should be lying on her back for more than 12 to 15 minutes at a time. The concern is compression on the inferior vena cava can slow the flow of blood to the uterus. We do recommend that women lie on their side but we are also aware that we all carry our babies differently and that not every pregnant woman will have vena cava compression. Some women in our prenatal classes have been comfortable doing this right up to the end of the 8th month. They all had healthy normal births and neither mom nor baby has had any complications since. Lying on the back for too long can make you feel dizzy and nauseas, short of breath or just funny.

You may not feel comfortable discussing your pregnancy with many people in the first trimester. But it is important to tell any yoga teacher that you are pregnant so they can assist you with modifications. Ask the teacher to be discreet if you are not yet ready to go public.

Take the time to stop and rest on your side whenever you feel to during the class. If that is what your body needs; you are still doing yoga! This can be a time to go inward and tune into your breathing, and your baby.

Left side is considered the best side to lie on. When you get up from the floor; roll onto your side and use the hands and arms to push up.

Individuals who are susceptible to premature labour may be cautioned not to exercise too vigorously to avoid the risk of initiating contractions.

Omit poses that press the heel into the uterus while folding or sitting.

Pregnant women reach their maximum capacity at a lower level of work then when non pregnant, especially with weight bearing exercise.

Practice during pregnancy should be modified to accommodate the growing baby and protect the placenta. Always practice as if the belly (baby) were larger than it actually is.

If you experience cramping, uterine contractions, bleeding or prolonged cessation of fetal movement, stop practicing immediately and contact your doctor.

Drink small quantities of water during practice to prevent dehydration and uterine contractions.

Beginners: Many women explore yoga for the first time during pregnancy, so don’t worry that you will be the only new yogi in class. Go slowly; enjoy the new experience of feeling the body within.

Experienced: An experienced practitioner can do a pretty normal practice for the first three months. The process of adapting poses to fit the ever changing shape of the body during the 9 months of pregnancy brings a whole new depth to your practice.

Home Practitioners: If you use yoga videos, get a prenatal one. You may want to try attending a prenatal yoga class for the camaraderie and sense of community these classes foster.

High Risk Pregnancies: At least one private class is recommended for a high risk pregnancy.

If you are going off island: Look for a prenatal rather than a beginner’s class. If you can only find a beginner’s class make sure to tell the teacher you are pregnant before hand.

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