This is Part IV of a four part series on how yoga can support you doing labor and childbirth. Haven't read the first parts? Go back and visit, Part I, Part II and Part III.
As I mentioned in previous posts, there’s no magic yoga pose that you can do in labor that will make things easier or less painful, but what you can do is yoga poses during pregnancy that will help better prepare your body for labor. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but think of it this way: you wouldn’t go out and run a marathon one day with no prior training, labor is the same thing. Yoga poses can help build strength and create opening in areas that will be post impacted by labor and childbirth. Here are the places of focus that yoga poses can help with to prepare your body for birth:
This is Part II of a three part series on how yoga can support you doing labor and childbirth. In the first part we discussed how yoga can help connect you to your breath. Haven't read it yet? Be sure to check it out here.
Our own strength can surprise us sometimes, and nowhere more so than in childbirth. However, it often takes our yoga practice to help us understand that strength and how we can push through something even when it is physically demanding or difficult. Here are some ways that yoga can help us explore how strong we are as we prepare for the physically demanding reality of birth:
Generally for most folks this shows up in the third trimester, though if you had a it in your previous pregnancy, chances are good it will show up again (and earlier) in your following pregnancies. For most people this shows up as a sharp, shooting pain in the region of the pubic bone. See the thing about the pubic bone is its actually a joint, there are two bones that meet at what we think of as the pubic bone, and like any joint, there is connective tissue that holds the joint together.
Because of our good friend relaxin, connective tissue in the body is softening over time the course of the pregnancy. As baby grows, added weight is also added to the pelvis which puts strain on this joint and for some folks this ends up causing pubic symphysis dysfunction. It will usually show up one of two ways 1) when doing lunges or after long walks or exercise where legs are going forward and back or 2) when opening the knees away from one another in things like rolling over in bed.
Let's face it, pregnancy, no matter how active you are, does a number on your core. Outside of general core weakness from the muscles being stretched out as baby grows, many folks also get some level of diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles that can contribute to additional weakness, pouching of the belly and bigger issues if left untreated. In the face of this it may feel like the best thing to do is to dive right into sit ups as soon as baby is born. Which is absolutely not the right answer. The best answer is doing core work, every day, in slow, incremental movements to help build core without doing any further damage. Here are four exercises you can do (once you've got clearance from your provider) to start rebuilding your core safely.
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.
Are you returning to your yoga practice postpartum? We recommend waiting till you get clearance from your care provider before returning to your regular fitness routine. And even after you get clearance you may find it takes some time to have that time, energy and drive to get back on your mat. Not to worry, start when you like and know that you have the support of short online postpartum yoga videos that can help support you get back into the swing of things and also do so with the small snippets of time your little one may be allowing you. Ready to go back to your regular yoga class? If you can, find a postpartum yoga class to attend in your area. If you can't, here are some tips for ways to modify your yoga practice to support your body.
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!
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.