During your pregnancy, you may find yourself spending time prepping diaper bags and baby clothes, but don’t forget about taking care of yourself! Regular practice of prenatal yoga during your pregnancy can be extremely beneficial, both for your health as well as your baby’s. Not only does it help to keep you fit and flexible, so your body is ready for labor, it is also great for relaxation and peace of mind. Both of these are excellent for you and make your baby feel pretty darn good too. Start by checking out a yoga studio near you to find a yoga instructor that you trust to help you prepare for the birthing process.
In this article, we’ll cover the physical and emotional benefits of practicing yoga during pregnancy.
Physical Benefits of Yoga During Pregnancy
Remember that during pregnancy, your body is experiencing changes at a rapid rate. It’s one of the reasons many pregnant women feel so exhausted during the first trimester. Huge demands are being made on you and it takes proper rest, care, and nutrition for you to relax and feel your best during this time. Turning to more intense physical activity can sometimes help, but can you run while pregnant? While many expecting mothers can run or do other high-intensity workouts, it isn’t every soon-to-be-mom’s first choice of exercise.
Fit Body, Fit Momma
Yoga for pregnancy can help you cope with all of the changes that are bombarding you. It allows you to stretch muscles that need it, strengthen muscles that may be weak, and expand your range of motion. In particular, strengthening your lower half is important so that you can properly support your baby belly, as the little one grows.
Certain poses can be extremely beneficial for areas like your abdomen, your hips, and the pelvic floor. Of course, you can always use props—and you should—if you need to modify a pose that feels like too much of a stretch for you. The great thing about practicing yoga while pregnant is that the benefits aren’t just for during pregnancy. Yoga also helps you to snap back to your pre-baby bod faster and more efficiently with the help of some postpartum exercises. Not only will you lose the baby weight faster, your body will return to shape faster. We say that’s the very definition of a win-win!
Easier Delivery of Baby
There’s a reason many pregnant women choose to be up and walking around during labor. That’s because movement, even just walking, helps to warm the muscles, stimulate labor, and make the whole process easier on you. While walking is great, yoga is also excellent, especially if you practice it throughout your pregnancy. You will strengthen those pelvic muscles, increase flexibility, strengthen your balance, and be ready when that little one decides to greet the world. The entire birthing process just goes smoother when your body is fit and ready to deliver. There are even certain poses that help the baby move into the proper position for delivery, like cat/cow.
Learn to Breathe
Sure, you can take Lamaze classes, and those help too. But yoga is all about the breath and using it efficiently. Not only will learning breathing techniques help you during your pregnancy—because pregnant ladies can use all the oxygen they can get!—it could also help you during labor and delivery, so that you don’t get short of breath. Proper breathing (hello Lamaze), also helps to manage pain and contractions.
Buh-Bye to Aches and Pains
Keep in mind that when you experience aches and pains associated with being pregnant, it’s usually because your body’s muscles and ligaments are being stretched beyond capacity to accommodate the extra life you’re carrying. Pregnancy yoga poses can help ease your pain by increasing your flexibility and making your body strong. It’s easier and less painful to accommodate new growth when you’re not stiff and tight. Is it easier to stretch a rubber band, or a circle of string with no give? Your body responds in a very similar way.
Reduce Potential Labor Complications
If you do pregnancy yoga for no other reason, this one is significant. True, you can’t prevent every scenario, but according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, prenatal yoga can help with:
- Decreasing the potential for preterm labor
- Decreasing risks of hypertension induced by pregnancy
- And even improving birth weight in your baby
Psychological and Emotional Benefits of Yoga for Pregnancy
Every woman knows that pregnancy can be a little bit scary, especially if it’s your first and you’ve never experienced body changes like this. Stress levels can rise, anxiety can be triggered, and some women can even suffer from depression while pregnant. Not to mention all the tears and emotional meltdowns over burnt toast and spilled coffee, as hormones rage rampant through your system. It’s tough, lil mama. We know and we commiserate.
That’s why pregnancy yoga is such a great addition to your daily routine, as a way to fight all of these mental and emotional battles you might face from day-to-day. We all know how much mindset matters in good health, and it’s hard to have a good mindset if you’re feeling anxious, scared, stressed, or sad.
Meet Fellow Pregnant Gals
There’s nothing better to help alleviate worries during pregnancy than connecting with and relating to other women who are expecting. When humans are connected to other humans, life is just better. The same holds true for when you’re pregnant. It can be comforting to meet with other women and share war stories about what you’re experiencing.
It’s also a great place for you to ask each other questions, share what’s helping you, and learn what other women are experiencing and how they’re dealing. Plus, it’s a little hard to be stand-offish when you’re all in a circle, twisting this way and that with your baby bump on full display. Especially if one of you accidentally toots. Hey, baby gas is a thing.
Connect with Yourself and Baby
Yoga is a discipline that promotes mindfulness and being present in the moment. By making yoga during pregnancy a daily habit, you are taking time for yourself each day to disconnect from the world and reconnect with your inner Zen. You’re also connecting with your baby, whether you realize it or not. By spending some time each day being present, you can learn to love and appreciate all the crazy changes you’re going through, and you can practice helping your baby feel that love you’re consciously trying to radiate.
Remember that being pregnant isn’t just something that’s happening to you, violating your sense of self-control and autonomy. Instead, reframe your thoughts as pregnancy being a gift you get to go through, and practice being thankful for each and every change and experience. They are propelling you toward a new future with your baby. When your mind is right, and your thoughts are centered, you can bask in the experience of being pregnant and intimately connected to your baby in a way that only happens once.
Protect Your Mental Health
If you already struggle with things like depression or anxiety, sometimes the flood of hormones circulating through your body can aggravate those symptoms both during your pregnancy and after. Postpartum depression occurs in nearly 15 percent of births, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Pregnancy yoga can help you deal with these feelings during pregnancy and may help prevent or reduce postpartum depression after childbirth. Not only that, you might be able to deal with them naturally and avoid medications. Good health habits should always be the go-to before trying to fix a problem with medicine. Allow prenatal yoga to be your medicine and if you still find yourself struggling, you can speak to your doc about other options for exercise.
Create a Routine BEFORE Baby Arrives
There’s no denying that life becomes a little hectic once your little one arrives. It can be hard to carve out time for yourself, especially if you haven’t already created a habit of self-care. By practicing prenatal yoga, you’re establishing a habit that feeds your mind, body, and soul well before the baby arrives, which makes it infinitely easier to continue after the baby arrives and things settle down into a routine. Let’s be real, if you aren’t doing something now, while pregnant, you probably won’t bother once the baby is in the picture either. Better to eat that frog now, and make it a habit carved in rock. Trust us, you’ll need that “me time” very soon!
There are so many benefits to pregnancy yoga and very few downsides. Of course, you should always speak with your doctor before taking on any kind of exercise regime to make sure it’s safe. There are plenty of pregnancy exercises available if your doctor doesn’t think yoga is right for you. Safety is paramount, but if your doc gives the go-ahead, find an experienced yoga instructor and just start, even if you’re already 6 months in. You and baby will still experience benefits no matter when you start.