We often think about pelvic floor as relegated to the postpartum period. But working the pelvic floor during pregnancy is also extremely important. During pregnancy, the weight of the uterus increases, putting more pressure and weight on the pelvic floor muscles. Maintaining strength in the pelvic floor helps to ensure that, as the weight increases, pelvic floor muscles can continue to support the weight of the organs and maintain functionality. If pelvic floor does not remain healthy and strong we may notice a decrease in function as it becomes harder to hold urine in when we need to use the bathroom. Not only that, but studies have actually shown that doing pelvic floor work during pregnancy actually decreases the level of pelvic floor dysfunction postpartum, so we're also setting ourselves up for much better postpartum pelvic floor health too!
Over the course of the last several months I have had several students ask me if I'm pregnant. Being a yoga teacher, I'm often "on display" in front of students. I'm moving, sometimes wearing tight yoga clothes and my focus is on teaching not on what my body looks like. That being said I am NOT pregnant, I am two years postpartum and while it comes from a place of curiosity and interest I have several problems with this question. Here is my first issue (part 1 of 3):
When we think about pregnancy we don't really think about having a core, we generally think about losing it, which is something that happens to a certain extent. But understanding what happens to you core during pregnancy can be very helpful in understanding how to avoid issues in the core during pregnancy (like diastasis recti) which can have an overall impact on the health of your core as your start to heal postpartum. Curious to find out what's happening?
Diastasis recti is something often talked about after pregnancy as we start to address the changes that have happened to the body during pregnancy and continue to happen postpartum. The thing is though, you can start addressing diastasis during your pregnancy and steps you take then can make a difference in the amount of abdominal separation that happen. First off, what is diastasis recti?
The most significant muscle stretching in the core happens along the rectus abdominus and impacts the connective tissue called the linea alba. The rectus abdominus muscle consists of two sets of muscle bellies that run parallel and are held together by a connective tissue called the linea alba which runs from the sternum to the pubic bone. As baby grows and the uterus expands, the muscle bellies can separate and the linea alba stretches thin which is what creates diastasis recti.
So, what to do?
The second trimester is when you may start seeing an increase in low back pain, particularly around the SI Joint. This is due to relaxin’s effect on the SI joint, causing it to loosen and become less stable as well as later in this trimester the postural shifts in the low back due to increased load of baby.
But wait, what is my SI Joint? This is the joint between the sacrum (the heart shaped bone at the base of the spine) and the illium bones (the pelvic bones that come around and meet either side of the sacrum in the low back). This is considered a joint because it is held together my connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) and the sacrum can move slightly in relationship to the pelvic bones.
Yoga is not something that requires fancy pants, or tops or a yoga mat really. Yoga is something you can do anywhere with very little. The great thing? There some wonderful yoga poses that you can do using the support of your wall. And guess what? Everyone's got one of those. You can do these with or without a yoga mat. Just make sure that if you're on a slippery surface you're in bare feet so you don't slide. Yoga at the wall during pregnancy can help give us that added support for balance that we most definitely need as baby gets bigger. It can also allow us to go deeper into poses we might not necessarily go into away from the wall. Whether you have a regular prenatal yoga practice and just want to change things up or are looking for some great poses to get your started for the first time in a prenatal yoga practice, these 5 poses are for you (p.s. do in them in order for a nice mini practice to start or end your day)!
Waiting for baby to arrive can be hard, waiting for baby to arrive after we've passed our due date can be even harder. I always like to tell students to think about it as a "due month" rather than a "due date." Anywhere from three weeks before to two weeks after your due date baby can arrive. This can take some of the pressure off that magical due date (on which only about 1% of babies are actually born!). With that in mind, once we pass our due date our care providers may start to encourage us to do things to get labor going. There's tons of tips and tricks out there but here are 3 quick things you can do that can help baby drop into position if that's what is keeping labor from starting.
Many mamas come to yoga for the first time during their pregnancy. Yoga is recommended by a care provider or a friend as a way to address some of the common discomforts that go along with inhabiting a pregnant body. It can also provide much needed mind-body practices that can help address stress and anxiety and potentially prepare one for childbirth. There are many folks though who have had a regular yoga practice up until the point of their pregnancy and want to continue doing their regular yoga classes. My advice? Definitely check out a prenatal yoga class or pregnancy yoga videos online this will give you an idea of what you can and can't do. And will also give you inspiration for modifications when you're in a class that is doing something not recommended for the pregnancy body. There are some general guidelines you can keep in mind in your practice:
Alright mamas, so we may all notice that as baby gets bigger and bigger we lose more and more of our abdominal support. It makes sense right? The abdominal muscles are stretching to make space for baby and can no longer support us in the same way the used to be able to. This means that finding other parts of our core for support becomes increasingly important in order to help support our backs during this time. This yoga practice for pregnancy is perfect to help teach you to engage your side waist (your obliques) and also your glutes to help give you core support and stability at this time. Give it a try!
Let's face it, sometimes we are exhausted when we're pregnant...sometimes its hard to get up and down from the floor...or we may have limitations on the exercise we can do during our pregnancy...or maybe we work all day at a desk and need a practice we can bring to work to help us address the discomfort we're starting to feel from sitting all day. If any of these apply to you, this practice is for you! This is a prenatal yoga practice that you can easily do from your chair, whether sitting at home or sitting at work. All you need is you and a chair and 5 minutes. Got that? Let's go! Looking for other gentle practices to support you during your pregnancy? Visit our online yoga video subscription for more.
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.