In the words of 80s band Hot Chocolate hit song, it started with a kiss… Nah! It doesn’t matter how it came about – in the bedroom, in the boardroom, or in the broom cupboard. The reality is you’re pregnant and that is wonderful news. Congratulations!
Feel vibrant, healthy and keep that radiant glow of yours during and after pregnancy with some yoga stretching. Yoga will be there to hold your hand every step of the way during this roller coaster ride. Many women come to yoga for the first time during pregnancy. As with all forms of exercise please check with your GP that it is safe for you to practise. Here are some quick pointers:
Making space in your life for a new baby is now a priority for you emotionally and physically. Less is best in these first weeks, as you adapt to changing hormones. High levels of oestrogen and progesterone are produced to support the pregnancy however these hormones are also responsible for nausea, anxiety, headaches, mood swings, tiredness and shortness of breath. You will need to:
- Slow down and discover the power of gentle movements and in depth relaxed stretches that avoid any strain in your pelvic area.
- Learn to breath more deeply, relax more effectively and develop an awareness of your pelvic muscles.
Now is a good time to practice a different type of yoga like restorative yoga. This way you prepare your spine and the rest of your body for the changes of pregnancy. Find acceptance of any physical changes and limitations and fine tune your art of letting go and really listening to your body.
After much needed rest and nurture in the early weeks now is the time to really enjoy your pregnancy in this trimester also known as the cheery phase. Yay! Once the placenta is fully functional, hormones have settled down and your pregnancy is well established, yoga can now energize and strengthen you to carry your growing baby with ease and confidence. Pregnancy is an adventure of self-transformation from ‘you’ to becoming ‘two.’ Your uterus is now home to an entirely new being. Enjoy this time by:
- Having a daily yoga practice, even if very short. Follow this with relaxation to create the balance you need to welcome the changes and your growing belly.
- Making friends with your baby through movement, breath, and sound. Babies can differentiate sounds and can start to recognise your voice at around 24 weeks. Fathers may welcome an invitation to take part in this bonding session.
- Finding small ways to celebrate whether it’s a particular piece of music you dance to each day, something delicious to eat or sharing with other mums-to-be.
- Take time to notice how you really feel and listen to your body as you move through the yoga postures. There are poses to relax your hips and shoulders and poses to help you focus on good alignment and posture. There are even poses that will help alleviate common discomforts like back ache and leg cramps. Some poses will gently energise like sun salutations, whilst others settle your energy and release anxiety like child’s pose.
A balanced practice will consist of poses that suit your energy and new shape, and are safe for your baby. When you experience things you really enjoy you nourish and enrich your baby’s experience in the womb.
During these last weeks of pregnancy your baby actively prepares to be born, so getting ready for this arrival becomes your main focus. By 40 weeks, the baby is eight times bigger than it was at three months. The baby’s increased weight and change of posture may bring about muscle aches and pains, disturbed sleep patterns, increased weariness and a sense of heaviness as the baby compresses internal organs. Yoga postures and breathing will prepare you physically, mentally and emotionally for labour:
- Energetic movements alternated with supported stretches to help you keep yourself fit and comfortable.
- Longer periods of deep breathing and relaxation
- Continue toning pelvic floor muscles to train yourself to be open and without fear
Deep breathing and rotating hip movements encourage the baby to his or her optimal positioning for birth. However your birth may unfold, yoga will help you to stay centred and connected with your baby.
Whatever you do, don’t fret. This is a special time for you. If you remember one thing it is this: your body is designed for pregnancy and birth and you can greatly enhance the whole experience with yoga. I wish you good health and happiness during your pregnancy, a safe and successful birth and a lifetime of joy with your offspring.