There are SO many benefits of incorporating Yoga into your daily routine while pregnant.
Beyond the obvious physical benefits like building strength, stamina, and balance, increasing energy, and relieving the common discomforts of pregnancy, there are many mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits as well.
A major component of any Yoga practice is breath work. Tuning in to your breath, noticing its flow as it moves in, through, and out of the body helps you to feel grounded and centred. This aids in calming the nervous systems of both you and your baby. Being in a more relaxed state decreases tension and stress, reduces anxiety, allows more positive hormones to be transferred to the baby, improves sleep, and can help you retain a sense of peace and calm throughout the many transitions of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
Attending a prenatal class with other expecting mamas is a great way to connect with others who are in the same phase of life as yourself. Community building at this time is so important! Having others to share all of the ups and downs with who understand what you are experiencing is vital for your mental and emotional wellbeing. These classes offer a safe environment to share discomforts, joys, fears, and questions, allowing for the sharing of knowledge and the passing down of a legacy of wisdom.
Many of the poses and techniques taught in prenatal Yoga will benefit you during childbirth such as various labouring and birthing positions, breath practices, meditations and affirmations. Having dedicated time to devote to these practices during pregnancy will prepare you physically, mentally, and emotionally for the birthing process.
Prenatal Yoga paves the way to creating a welcoming space in body and mind, a time of connection, rest, and a nurturing of self, all while deepening your bond with your baby.
As with all forms of exercise, it’s important to have the go-ahead from your healthcare provider before beginning any kind of routine. There are many different approaches to prenatal exercise, so be sure to ask lots of questions of potential teachers to be sure their class will be the right fit for you.
In my classes I take a gentler, more restorative approach to the asanas. I believe your body is already working so hard building this new life inside of you, and with our busy day-to-day lifestyles we often don't give ourselves adequate time to truly rest and replenish our minds and bodies. Breath work, meditations, affirmations, birth prep, and discussions around topics relating to the prenatal and immediate postpartum period help round out the classes.
I personally have experienced the many benefits of a regular yoga practice throughout pregnancy and postpartum, and during the birthing process (x3!). And the benefits don't stop there. Maintaining a sense of peace and calm, and being able to take a step back from my surroundings to be in more of a witness state helps me to be less reactionary and more responsive. Which benefits not only myself, but also my partner and my children. This mindfulness is an ongoing process, that is why it is called a practice! But with continued practice the effects ripple out to our families, our communities, and ultimately, out to the world at large.
For a great visual of the ripple effect our practices have, check out the video below of this cute frog singing his heart out!
Caring for mothers postpartum
In a recent Instagram post I was talking about the importance of caring for new mothers and their need to be held - a need that is equal to, if not more important than, the need of holding the new baby.
No matter how much preparation you have done, giving birth is a life-altering experience in every way possible. And however ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’ the birthing process was, there is trauma involved - to the physical body definitely, but also mentally and emotionally.
When a new mother feels supported they receive a boost of oxytocin - a hormone that plays a major role in social bonding, childbirth, and in postpartum. This can help with the production of breastmilk, reducing stress, and increasing the bond with baby. There is anthropological evidence supporting levels of oxytocin are much higher in women who live in close proximity to family or who are closely connected to their community. For many of us, this is no longer the case. Families are separated by great distances and we are so ‘busy’ with our day-to-day lives that we have lost all sense of ‘community’.
So, how can we begin to bring this much needed love and care to new mothers?
Here’s a list of simple ways to begin fostering a sense of connection and community, and to give lots of love to new mamas.
It can be extremely challenging to feed yourself and your family in the immediate postpartum. Bringing nourishing food can be the greatest gift!
Check in with the family to see if there are any food preferences or avoidances. A cooler can be left outside the family’s door so as not to disturb mama and babe during meal delivery.
-bring a meal (or 2 or 3)
-organize a meal train-this will allow family and friends to deliver meals on a schedule
-gift certificates for local restaurants or food box delivery services
-pick up and deliver some groceries
-don’t forget snacks and treats!
Are their other children in the home? Pets? They might not be getting the full attention that they are used to and could use some love too!
-offer to take older children on excursions - the park, a play centre, a movie etc
-if school-aged, help getting kids to and from school
-organize play dates
-pet the cat (if they’re into that), take the dog for a walk, and check if they need food too!
-summer - cut the grass, winter - shovel the snow
-help with laundry, dishes, and other light housecleaning
The birther has just been through a physically/mentally/emotionally draining experience. They need time to rest in order to recover.
-offer to watch baby so mama can have a shower or bath
-watch baby so mama can have a much needed nap
-foot rubs and head massages can be deeply relaxing
-gifts of massage (bonus if the therapist does home visits)
-make endless cups of tea and give her space to talk about her experience (and just listen!)
As you can see from the above lists, it is the simple, small things that can make a huge difference for a new mama and her family. These are just a few ideas, maybe you can think of others that would be helpful, or things specific to the new mamas in your life.
Whatever you are able to contribute would be much appreciated, I assure you.
This is a sacred time, let’s start treating it as such.
Wise Roots Therapies, January 12 2020
Hi! I'm a Mama of 3, an Ayurveda Spa Specialist, Pre and Post Natal Yoga Teacher, Postpartum Facilitator, and Postpartum Doula. I am passionate about caring for birthers during the Sacred Window of postpartum, and educating others on how to care for the new families in their lives.