Prenatal Yoga for Birth Preparation

Prenatal yoga is a great place to start when you are preparing for birth. Yoga in itself is the art of breathing, staying in a place of observance as your body goes through different poses and positions.

It is greeting life where you are and staying calm and relaxed through it all, a wonderful tool for life and a wonderful tool for birth as well! But whether we prepare through yoga, natural movement or some other form of exercise, here are a few things to keep in mind…we’ll start with yoga and them move onto some other forms of exercise to consider.

Once pregnant, prenatal yoga, like any other form of exercise isn’t to push yourself to become the best athlete that you’ve ever been, but to learn to listen and work with your body. If we go about exercise as helping our bodies to feel more open and relaxed, and letting it be a time of letting thoughts and worries go, then prenatal yoga becomes a place of connection and renewal, as well as building strength and stamina.

Prenatal yoga is great for lengthening the spine, which is so important in making room for baby and lessening the likelihood of lower back pain. It’s also great for building body and breath awareness. One of the greatest poses of yoga is Savasana, which is a resting pose that can be taken even when you aren’t doing a full yoga class, and for prenatal yoga it is modified to be a side-lying pose on the left side for greater safety and comfort (and supported by pillows or blankets as we grow bigger).

Another helpful part is learning and exploring postures that you might later find comfortable in natural birth. To name a few, Cat/Cow pose is one that might feel comfortable, as is Child’s Pose if you are feeling tired and need a rest between rushes. Squatting is wonderful during pregnancy and birth for opening the pelvic area and helping to keep the blood circulating in your uterus (just make sure you take breaks from squatting during labor so you do not loose circulation in your legs and end up with pins and needles!)

As we get closer and closer to our due dates, our bodies are producing more and more relaxin, the great drug that helps our joints stretch and make room for the baby to move through, and because it’s easier to open up, it’s important we don’t go too far, too fast. Listen to your body’s cues and rest regularly... whether that’s in Child’s Pose or Savasana!

Prenatal yoga is a fun starting place but not the only place to discover movement that you might enjoy and help during labor. When we think of natural birth, think of natural movement and expression, the freer we are to observe and express ourselves, the easier we will be able to flow through labor. The more we have practiced the art of going within and listening to our bodies, the more we will be able to listen to our bodies as they transition through birth! Many of us feel scared because of the unknown, but what we can do to prepare is to be used to listening within. Yoga helps because it starts the exploration of the body with awareness. Another thing to try is to turn on some music, clear some space and let your-self move around. Natural movement can be slow, fast, all levels in between, but what you want to do is allow your body to lead and your thoughts/worries on how you look, or your play-by-play commentary to fall away. Listening, observing and honoring our bodies are powerful tools in birth preparation.

There are also dance classes that aren’t regulated, but just people gathering to dance in their own way. Remember, if you are listening to your body and letting it lead, it will slow down when it needs to. Again, we don’t want to force more on it in the name of being in “better shape”. We want to let our body know that we trust it, that we’re following it, and that it’s safe because we won’t abuse it, we'll take care of it,remember we are sending baby the same message we send our bodies!

These two practices are great compliments to birth because they build awareness, strength and stamina in gentle opening ways. But if you are not drawn to these, reach out and follow what you are drawn to. Has belly dancing or running always been your exercise? What about pilates? Or have you been running into it all over town? You will be naturally drawn to what is going to assist you the most, and as long as you check in with your body, your intuition and even your health care practitioner you’ll be well taken care of! Whether it’s prenatal yoga or something else, whatever movement you’ve decided on: take time to go within. When we tune into our self, we will more freely experience the miracle of our body and the connection with our baby. And we practice our greatest tools for birth: awareness and trust.

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