Yoga is one of the perfect examples of body, mind, and spirit coming together for total well-being, but did you know that it can help prepare moms for childbirth? Prenatal yoga has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and decrease several common negative side effects associated with pregnancy. To learn more, we spoke with our own prenatal yoga instructor, April Eckwielen.
How Prenatal Yoga Can Help
“Prenatal yoga lets you get in tune with carrying your baby, as well as your own body,” says Eckwielen. “It’s also a way to have an early interaction with your baby as you do yoga together. When you’re bending, stretching, or moving, you’ll feel the baby moving with you and it creates a sense of bonding that you can’t otherwise get at that stage.”
Eckwielen recommends starting as early as possible but, “even a few weeks of yoga late-term have their benefits,” she says. “And don’t worry if you don’t think you’re flexible enough, a lot of women have this fear but it really isn’t an issue. We can work around that, and you’ll gain that flexibility in no time.”
According to Eckwielen the same goes for mothers on bed rest and those that have other conditions that would prevent them from doing some of the more traditional poses. “Moms on bed rest can still do breath work, relaxation, and meditation with some limited stretching,” she explained. “We also have modified poses that will incorporate a cushion or a pillow to make it easier for late-term moms to participate.”
While prenatal yoga can relax you mentally, it also comes with many physical benefits. “Doing prenatal yoga increases the strength, flexibility and endurance of the muscles you use during childbirth,” says Eckwielen. “It’s also been shown to decrease lower back pain, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, shortness of breath, headaches, and nausea.”
Prenatal Yoga Precautions
To be sure that you and your baby will benefit from prenatal yoga, always consult your health care provider before starting a new exercise regimen. Women with heart disease or back problems may not be healthy enough for prenatal yoga in its full form, but there are plenty of modified exercises that may still benefit you and your baby.
We recommend attending a specialized prenatal yoga class rather than a standard yoga class. But if that’s what’s convenient and available, be sure not to push yourself too hard. Take breaks when you need them and stay well hydrated. Bikram yoga or hot yoga is not a good substitute for prenatal yoga and should be avoided due to overheating.
Where You Can Find Prenatal Yoga
We recommend coming in to one of our prenatal yoga classes, after you’ve consulted with your health care provider before joining a regular yoga class, so you’ll have an expert to advise you on the proper way in which to do prenatal yoga in the future.
To find a prenatal yoga class near you, please visit Florida Hospital for Women.