by Jessica Harper – BSc., E-RYT500, RPYT
Along with navigating changes in their bodies and the discomforts that come with them, pregnant students come to prenatal yoga classes to help them prepare for labor and childbirth. While there is no magical pose to make things better, prenatal yoga can certainly help support a pregnant person during their labor and childbirth. Prenatal yoga benefits baby too because of the movement and increase in well-being of the pregnant person. There is also an opportunity to stop and stay present and connected with their baby.
Prenatal yoga teaches us to make that mind, body, and breath connection. We notice how we breathe, the length of our breath, and how the breath feels. Our breath helps us to navigate things that are challenging and is the number one tool to help in labor and birth. Pregnant students need the right tools to help calm the nervous system so their bodies go into thrive mode, where the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in. The breathing techniques that are learned in class are often the number one thing students come back to tell me were the most helpful. To establish good breathing habits, we include poses that focus on improving posture, opening up the chest, shoulders and neck. Practicing these poses helps to optimize breathing patterns for pregnancy and labor.
While breathing through labor and childbirth is essential, yoga also increases strength throughout the body to help prepare for the demands of labor. The majority of postures we do in classes focus on the legs, hips, and glutes. Prenatal yoga also focuses on opening the pelvis. While concentration is on creating stability and strength throughout a pregnant person’s practice, making space in the hips and pelvic region helps baby find better positioning and can ease the transition for baby during labor and childbirth. Contrary to popular belief and what you see in the movies, childbirth does not always happen lying on your back. People in labor are usually walking, squatting, standing and supporting themselves on their hands and knees. Practicing these poses that help to increase strength within those specific areas of the body can help support the pregnant person when they are changing positions during labor and childbirth. Below are poses that can be practiced during pregnancy and while in the delivery room to help the body feel supported, stable and strong for labor and childbirth.
Preparing for Birth:
To establish good breathing habits, we include poses that focus on improving posture, opening up the chest, shoulders and neck. Practicing these poses helps to optimize breathing patterns for pregnancy and labor. "
Prenatal yoga also teaches the student how to be more confident in themselves and trusting that their body is strong enough to handle the demands of the labor process. This is often done through mindful movement, meditation/birth visualizations, birth mantras and breathing practices. These tools will help the pregnant person learn to trust the process when things become overwhelming and difficult. Prenatal yoga offers the opportunity to make that mind-body connection, listen to how the body wants to move and become aware of how strong the body is. Prenatal yoga can be a very empowering practice for the pregnant person and the confidence students build can directly translate to their labor and childbirth experience. Below are examples of meditation/birth visualizations and birth mantras a pregnant person can use during their labor to help ease the mind and body for childbirth.
Seated Meditation/Birth Visualization:
I hope this blog post was helpful and can bring you peace of mind during your pregnancy journey. Namaste!