Pregnancy brings up a lot of changes for the mother to be. Her body can feel foreign with hormone surges changing everything from her taste buds to her pelvic ligaments. Her mind can be bogged down with worries regarding the pregnancy and coming birth. Her spirit can be tired and troubled. Never has a woman needed more support physically, mentally, and spiritually then when she is pregnant. Since the rise of yoga practice in the West, the poses and meditation have been adjusted to pregnancy, creating a genre of yoga known as prenatal yoga. This particular yoga variation can aid in maintaining balance in the body and mind through adapted toning poses. Prenatal yoga promotes proper posture and relaxation, creating a supportive outlet for the pregnant practitioner.
Toning poses encourage movement and flexibility, which is beneficial during a time that can become cumbersome to move and joints can become painful. Child’s pose, Cat-Cow, and supported Butterfly pose can ease backache caused by the shifting in the spinal column. Due to changes in weight, the counter balance of the body is pulled forward (Silverstone p.108). By maintaining muscle tone through yoga, the body's ability to protect the core is increased, relieving typical pregnancy muscle aches. The movements of yoga are balancing to the body, and can ease other pregnancy issues. Performing balancing stretches on each side of the body promotes circulation throughout the extremities, and can improve sleep if performed before bed, alleviate morning sickness, and prepare for birth (Silverstone p. 81, 123).
Proper posture is a main tenant in yoga practice, starting with, “good alignment of the spine from a solid leg base and relaxed stretching intensified by deep breathing.” (Freedman p.12) By practicing and utilizing proper posture throughout the day, balance in the spine and pelvis is maintained. The muscles of the pelvis create a hammock for the womb, and can affect presentation. (Freedman p. 8) Fetal positioning can make a huge difference in how labor develops. A baby facing in the posterior position in the womb may have a slow descent, and can also cause painful back labor (Spinning Babies). Poor fetal position can also cause very slow dilation, often resulting in unnecessary interventions.
The ability to cope through painful or stressful labor can make a huge difference in the birth experience for the mother; feeling overwhelmed and helpless versus calm and ritualized. By practicing meditation and deep relaxation in yoga throughout her pregnancy, the mother is essentially teaching her mind and muscles how to relax. An individual can't expect to go through the paces of everyday life without mindfully taking the time out to fully relax the body and empty the mind. Without regular practice, the mother to be cannot expect to relax while laboring (Mongan p.119). By creating a peaceful mental space, both mother and baby can birth together in a relaxed confident atmosphere. The mother knows her body, has tuned into her baby, and can relax and go inward; an ability that is key to letting labor and birth progress.
By practicing prenatal yoga regularly, mothers can address pregnancy related issues and prepare for birth through postures, regular meditation and relaxation. By connecting to her body and her baby, the practitioner can have a more enjoyable and healthy pregnancy.
The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, A Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier More Beautiful Beginning. Alicia Silverstone. 2014. Rodale Books. P. 81, 108, 123.
Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth, and Beyond. Francoise Barbira Freedman. 2004. DK. P. 8, 12.
Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method. Marie F. Mongan M.Ed. M.Hy. 2005. Health Communications.
www.Spinningbabies.com. “Maternal Positioning”. 2016.