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Prenatal Yoga - From Conception to Birth

If you're pregnant and looking for ways to relax or stay fit, you might be considering prenatal yoga. But did you know that prenatal yoga might also help you prepare for labor and promote your baby's health?

Before you start prenatal yoga, understand the range of possible benefits, as well as what a typical class entails and important safety tips. Also, speak to your primary prenatal doctor, or midwife regarding your pregnancy before beginning.

Did you know: Mayo Clinic recommends prenatal yoga especially if you are trying to become pregnant.

Much like other types of childbirth-preparation, such as lamaze classes, prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. Research suggests that prenatal yoga is safe and can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies. If you are not yet pregnant but looking to conceive, prior to intercourse with your partner, prenatal yoga can better prepare your body to become pregnant. How so?

Yoga in general is perfect for reducing stress and anxiety. While you are having sex, if your mind isn't allowing your body to feel what you wish, it can affect your body's willingness to conceive. This goes hand in hand with your body's ovulation cycle. Prenatal Yoga will get you in sync with your intention; which is to have sex not just for the the connection and the feeling, but to conceive.

So what about after you've become pregnant?

The benefits are many. Prenatal Yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. Research suggests that prenatal yoga is safe and can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies.

Prenatal yoga, according to Mayo Clinic, can:

Prenatal yoga can also help you meet and bond with other pregnant women and prepare for the stress (but also joy) of being a new parent.

What Happens During Prenatal Yoga?

A prenatal yoga session can vary based on your instructor and/or needs. But it might involve some of the following:

  • Breathing. You'll be encouraged to focus on breathing in and out slowly and deeply through the nose. Prenatal yoga breathing techniques might help you reduce or manage shortness of breath during pregnancy and work through contractions during labor.

  • Gentle stretching. You'll be encouraged to gently move different areas of your body, such as your neck and arms, through their full range of motion.

  • Postures. While standing, sitting or lying on the ground, you'll gently move your body into different positions aimed at developing your strength, flexibility and balance. Props — such as blankets, cushions and belts — might be used to provide support and comfort.

  • Cool down and relaxation. At the end of each prenatal yoga class, you'll relax your muscles and restore your resting heart rate and breathing rhythm. You might be encouraged to listen to your own breathing, pay close attention to sensations, thoughts and emotions, or repeat a mantra or word to bring about a state of self-awareness and inner calm.

You'll gently move your body into different positions aimed at developing your strength

What Are The Risks?

There are styles of yoga that do not benefit a woman who is pregnant or who may think they're pregnant. There are many different styles of yoga — some more strenuous than others. Prenatal yoga, hatha yoga and restorative yoga are the best choices for pregnant women. Talk to a certified yoga instructor about your pregnancy before starting any other yoga class.

One such yoga practice to avoid while pregnant is hot yoga, which involves doing vigorous poses in a room heated to higher temperatures. For example, during the Bikram form of hot yoga, the room is heated to approximately 105 F (40 C) and has a humidity of 40 percent. Hot yoga can raise your body temperature too much, which can provoke a dangerous emergency to you and your unborn infant.

Avoid Hot Yoga or Bikram if you are practicing Prenatal Yoga.

What Are The Safety Guidelines For Prenatal Yoga?

According to Mayo Clinic, if you are going to practice Prenatal Yoga you will need to follow these set of safety guidelines.

  • Talk to your health care provider. Before you begin a prenatal yoga program, make sure you have your health care provider's OK. You might not be able to do prenatal yoga if you are at increased risk of preterm labor or have certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or back problems.

  • Set realistic goals. For most pregnant women, at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity is recommended on at least five, if not all, days of the week. However, even shorter or less frequent workouts can still help you stay in shape and prepare for labor.

  • Pace yourself. If you can't speak normally while you're doing prenatal yoga, you're probably pushing yourself too hard.

  • Stay cool and hydrated. Practice prenatal yoga in a well-ventilated room to avoid overheating. Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated.

  • Avoid certain postures. When doing poses, bend from your hips — not your back — to maintain normal spine curvature. Avoid lying on your belly or back, doing deep forward or backward bends, or doing twisting poses that put pressure on your abdomen. You can modify twisting poses so that you only move your upper back, shoulders and rib cage. As your pregnancy progresses, use props during postures to accommodate changes in your center of gravity. If you wonder whether a pose is safe, ask your instructor for guidance.

  • Don't overdo it. Pay attention to your body and how you feel. Start slow and avoid positions that are beyond your level of experience or comfort. Stretch only as far as you would have before pregnancy. If you experience any pain or other red flags — such as vaginal bleeding, decreased fetal movement or contractions — during prenatal yoga, stop and contact your health care provider.

Look for a program taught by an instructor who has training in prenatal yoga. Consider observing a class ahead of time to make sure you're comfortable with the activities involved, the instructor's style, the class size and the environment.


*Sources (Mayo Clinic)

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