5 Ways Prenatal Yoga Helps Prepare You for Labor and Delivery
I actually didn’t become a prenatal yoga teacher until after having my son. Knowing what I know now I totally would have done it before. Or at least gotten myself to some prenatal yoga classes. But I didn’t. I thought, “I do yoga…I don’t need prenatal yoga”. Ha! Boy was I wrong! It wasn’t until I was about 3 months postpartum and I was still struggling to heal my body (and mind) that I decided it was time to learn how yoga can help us mamas (and mamas-to-be) throughout this journey.
So, how can yoga help during childbirth?
1. Learn how to move your pelvis during labour and birth
Prenatal yoga can be very empowering as it teaches mamas how to connect to your ever changing body and understand the hormonal and physical changes that take place to help bring baby into the world. There is a lot of focus on the movements within the pelvis during birth and you begin to understand how you can move your body physically to assist in the process of labor and birth.
A simple exercise that help can help you to isolate the movements within the pelvis and SI joints are practicing cat and cow pose.
Helps with labor as this pose helps to make the superior (top) opening of the pelvis larger as the sit bones compress. This movement can help for baby to “engage” (bring baby down into the pelvis).
Is great for the final phase of delivering baby as this position helps to widen the sit bones and the inferior opening (the bottom part) of the pelvis gets larger.
Just doing these subtle movements with your eyes closed can help you feel and notice the movement you have in the pelvic region and that you can move in a way to help bring baby down and out.
2. Become aware….of down there
The mind-body awareness created throughout prenatal yoga is crucial for the 2nd stage of labor a.k.a. the birthing journey. Pelvic floor muscle training will help you understand and connect to this part of your body when it comes to the “pushing” phase of bringing baby into the world.
Throughout your prenatal journey you will work on understanding where these muscles are in your body, what they does, how they works, how to activate and relax them and how this part of the body is connected with the breath (and sound). You will learn down-training (relaxation) techniques to connect to this part of the body to help relax and release these muscles which is crucial during the 2nd stage of labor.
3. Build up your strength and stamina
One of the largest misconceptions of prenatal yoga is that we do it to make the body “flexible” to give birth. I always here people say, “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible”. Well, guess what….when you are pregnant your body naturally start producing hormones that help the body “relax”, preparing you for your birthing day.
Prenatal yoga focuses a lot on building strength and stamina because it is this that you will need during labor and delivery. You will work on poses that strengthen, create space, and are safely modified for pregnancy. A prenatal yoga practice will help to strengthen and stretch the muscles, ligaments and joints needed especially during the 2nd stage of labor (pushing phase) and may even help to decrease pushing time!
4. Your breath will be your best friend
When I think back to my birthing day I remember how my breath saved me! Focusing on my breath helped me to move through the sensations of the contractions and helped me to stay focused on myself, my body and my baby throughout the birthing process.
Yogic breathing techniques will give you strength, help control your energy and calm your mind when needed. The effects of breathing, extending the exhalations and using sound (chanting, humming or moaning) help to stimulate the relaxation response throughout the body (and pelvic floor).
Equal Breathing (Sama Vritti) was the simple technique which got me through the 1st stage of labor.
5. Listen to your body (and inner voice)
Prenatal yoga gives you the opportunity to constantly check back in with your body, energy and all of the changes and that are taking place so that when it’s time for your birthing day you are connected. You know when something feels right or wrong. You know how to move your body to create space, relieve tension, explore movement in a safe way when your body asks you to move or trying a new birthing position if you’re feeling a little uncomfortable. Yoga and meditation will also help you to trust and listen to your inner guide as your birthing journey unfolds.
There are so many tools that prenatal yoga will give you to help you on your birthing day. Yoga is truly the journey of self-discovery and it will help you tap into your innate wisdom and the power of unconditional love needed for this transformational journey into motherhood.