Updated: Feb 2
Prenatal yoga is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries to help women during labor and delivery. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in interest in prenatal yoga, as more and more women are looking for natural ways to prepare for labor and delivery.
Prenatal yoga can help to ease the discomforts of pregnancy, such as nausea, fatigue, and back pain. It can also help to improve your flexibility and strength, which can be helpful during labor and delivery. In addition, prenatal yoga can help to improve your mood and reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga can also help you to connect with your baby and prepare for childbirth. This can be an important bonding experience for you and your baby as you connect with each other on a deeper level.
So let's talk a little bit more about some of the biggest reasons to bring yoga into your pregnancy journey!
1. It can help ease pregnancy symptoms
During pregnancy, your body goes through so many changes, which can lead to physical and emotional discomfort.
Because prenatal yoga focuses so much on gentle stretching and breath work, it can be a great way to help alleviate some of these discomforts by helping you to stretch and strengthen your muscles, improve your posture, and release tension.
Sometimes even just being in the same room as other people who are pregnant and might be experiencing the same symptoms you are can ease tension! I remember a few times going to prenatal yoga during my pregnancies when I would just sit in the back, breathing and resting, while in the presence of my new-found pregnant friends. Knowing you're not alone can be one of the greatest benefits of practicing prenatal yoga.
2. It can help prepare you for labor and childbirth.
Labor and delivery are going to ask a lot of your body. Your hips and legs and arms are going to need to do so much work for you.
A lot of prenatal yoga focuses on hip opening postures (which will help guide baby down and out the birth canal), leg strengthening (you're gonna want to have strong legs for many of the birthing positions you can choose from), and arm strengtheners (to help you grab onto the birth bar and bear down...and to endlessly hold your baby once they're earth-side).
Strengthening your physical body through yoga will prepare you for the hard work of labor and delivery, in ways you may not even know! I hated when my yoga instructor would make us move into Pigeon Pose...it was my least favorite posture ever. But spending so many months working on opening my hips is a huge part of why my babies were able to shimmy on out with far more ease than I had anticipated!
3. It can help you bond with your baby.
For many people, pregnancy can feel really weird. Your entire life and body are taking on a new role and it can feel overwhelming. Yoga is traditionally a very individual and introspective practice. But when you come to your mat during pregnancy, it becomes something else entirely. Something beautiful and often unexpected.
Breath work during pregnancy allows you to spend time acknowledging the power inside you, this tiny life growing inside you. Taking the time to think about and imagine all the things you want for your labor and delivery and how you want to bring your baby into the world is an incredible way to connect not only with your body, but with your baby. And being able to reflect on and go back to those images and ideas during contractions and while you're pushing is just one of many ways to help you get through the pain and honor the process.
So there you have it. My top three reasons to practice yoga during pregnancy! It can be fun and empowering and relaxing...sometimes all during the same class!
If you're living on Whidbey Island (Oak Harbor, specifically), you can check out my yoga classes every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at Thrive Community Fitness.
And as always, carry on, friends. Carry on!
Micah is a birth doula.& photographer and a prenatal yoga instructor based in Fort Worth, TX.