The benefits of prenatal yoga for pregnant women
During the pregnancy Giving birth Pregnancy and health

The benefits of prenatal yoga for pregnant women

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Prenatal yoga will help you live better during pregnancy and prepare for childbirth. It is, of course, intended for pregnant women only! The approach is holistic: improving the well-being of the mother-to-be and preparing for childbirth in the postpartum period. Read on to find out more.

Whether you have practiced yoga regularly or only after your first ultrasound, practicing yoga during pregnancy is very beneficial to your health and will prepare you for the stresses ahead. It will help you manage your pregnancy every day. But before you begin, it is important to know the facts.

What type of yoga can a pregnant woman practice?

Yoga is perfect for pregnant women: it works on many levels and helps pregnant women to experience pregnancy as calmly as possible and to face childbirth without fear. It works both physically and mentally.

Note: Although most pregnant women can practice prenatal yoga, there are contraindications. For example, yoga is not recommended:

  • In case of a difficult or risky pregnancy;
  • In case of a previous miscarriage;
  • If you have high blood pressure or severe circulatory or cardiac problems;
  • In any situation where exercise poses a risk to the fetus;
  • Bikram yoga (or hot yoga) should be avoided during pregnancy.

What is prenatal yoga?

Prenatal yoga is a body and breathing exercise with postures designed specifically for pregnant women.

The goal of yoga for pregnant women is to relax and control the diaphragm, abdominal muscles, and perineum.

Practically, it involves performing breathing exercises or “Pranayama” to become fully aware of your breathing habits. Breathing is very important during pregnancy for better oxygenation of the baby and on the day of delivery to cope with the contractions and to support the expulsion of the baby.

On the day of delivery, these exercises are favorable for the mother, as she breathes in deeply and calmly during dilation and exhales intensely during pushing.

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When can a mother start practicing prenatal yoga?

If you are already an experienced yogi, you can continue with traditional yoga classes until the end of the first trimester. Otherwise, you can also start in the first trimester, but only if your pregnancy is normal and you are not at risk of miscarriage or have not miscarried before.

Some teachers are more cautious and do not accept pregnant women in the first trimester.

Benefits of prenatal yoga: why should you practice it during pregnancy?

Prenatal yoga has both physical and mental benefits:

  • In terms of physical well-being: yoga postures, specially adapted to the problems of pregnant women, are recommended to relieve pain in the lower back and sciatic nerve, improve the flexibility of the perineum. However, there is no abdominal work done, of course;
  • In terms of psychological well-being: it allows the pregnant woman to reconnect with herself, with her feelings, and with the baby, to enjoy the moment, which is good for her because the breathing exercises lead to relaxation and take away the worries of everyday life.

Prenatal yoga is a general gentle exercise suitable to:

  • Fill up on energy;
  • Relieve nausea, leg heaviness, and back pain;
  • Strengthen specific muscles needed during labor;
  • Work on flexibility and balance;
  • Reduce stress and connect your body with your mind.

Breathing exercises can also help you prepare for labor. Remember to follow your instincts and never push yourself too hard.

Prenatal yoga: good preparation for childbirth

Prenatal yoga, practiced weekly, prepares the body for childbirth by promoting good pelvic mobility, muscle tone, and breath control during labor, besides prenatal classes.

Prenatal yoga also brings the mother-to-be closer to the sensations of her body. It also boosts her self-confidence, so that on the day of delivery, she believes in her abilities and can face this physical “marathon” with more fortitude. She will also experience a benefit regarding post-delivery fatigue, with a faster recovery.

Prenatal yoga: some postures and positions to learn

To ease minor aches and pains, you will perform a series of exercises accompanied by a brief anatomy course.

On the agenda: stretches, postures, or “asanas” that you can try, adapt and master according to your morphology and your baby’s position. Despite the weight of your belly, you will feel lighter and more flexible. The goal is not to become an acrobat, but to feel good, for example, by stretching your spine and tilting your pelvis.

Here are some postures to remember:

  • Cow face pose: get into a cross-legged position and stretch upward;
  • Tree pose (done with the help of a wall within reach) allows working on the balance, which can be disturbed in pregnant women, as the weight of the uterus pulls forward. Standing, we lean on the left leg, we bend the right leg, and we position our foot at the level of the ankle, the calf, or the top of the thigh;
  • Cat-cow pose: on all fours, we make the hollow back and the round back, without stressing on the hollowing but to seek the stretching.

The midwife will teach you the correct reflexes for standing, sitting, and bending to take care of your body. Your weight changes. Your center of gravity has changed and it is not always easy to live without pain.

Therefore, we usually start from the analysis of bad movements: for example, you should not bend forward to lower yourself to the ground, you risk falling. Learn to bend your legs. It is less painful and less dangerous.

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Midwife, doctor… Who can lead prenatal yoga classes?

Many yoga classes are led by doctors, midwives, or people with medical training. However, this is not a requirement: there are prenatal yoga courses with people experienced in childbirth and maternity, or for yoga teachers who want to specialize…

The most important thing is that the teacher is well trained in prenatal yoga and knows the general practices.

Choose a teacher who is used to practicing with pregnant women, as some postures are not suitable during pregnancy.

Ask your midwife, your chiropractor, or even your friends to find the teacher you will like.

Prenatal yoga, useful information

For all prenatal yoga classes, wear loose-fitting clothes you feel comfortable in. The activity is practiced with socks. Make sure you have something to eat before you begin. The father-to-be may attend the sessions, so it will be teamwork.

Some insurances cover prenatal courses if they are led by a doctor or midwife. They last between 45 and 90 minutes. The sooner you start, the sooner you will master the art of breathing, which is essential on the day of delivery.

A doctor’s examination to ensure that you can practice safely while pregnant is essential.

Can I practice prenatal yoga during the ninth month of pregnancy?

Pregnant women can take prenatal yoga classes until the end of their pregnancy. There is no real contraindication except, of course, in case of bed rest.

Although medical approval is not required, it is important to give the yoga teacher a brief report of the last pregnancy examination so that he can better adjust the postures. For example, if the baby is already low, there will be no squatting.

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