Childbirth is a wonderful and miraculous life experience – but it is not without its fair share of challenges. In this post, we will look at the numerous benefits of prenatal yoga, and how it can help prepare women better for a smoother pregnancy and labour.
The challenges women face during pregnancy
Pregnancy can give rise to numerous physiological and psychological obstacles, so it’s important for women to equip themselves with all the right tools, to help them deal with what may lie ahead.
By far the biggest alteration to a woman’s body during pregnancy is in weight. The uterus becomes heavy, causing the centre of gravity to shift. This added weight, and the consequent weakening of the abdominal muscles, can lead to pain in the lower back, so adopting the right strength exercises can help adequately prepare the body for these changes.
Hormonal changes also have an effect on the physical well-being of a pregnant woman. Relaxin and progesterone – two hormones that are vital to a healthy pregnancy, cause muscles and ligaments to loosen and relax, particularly in the pelvic region. These loose ligaments are also a major reason why women who are otherwise physically active can’t stick to their usual exercise regimens during pregnancy, as it may lead to significant discomfort, or even injuries.
In addition to these physical challenges, there are a number of potential mental health problems women may have to brace themselves for as well. A WHO study found that around 10% of pregnant women worldwide experienced symptoms of depression, with this number rising to 15.6% in developing countries.
Given all the challenges associated with pregnancy, there are a number of solutions that women may be keen to explore, even before the start of their first trimester.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Given the various constraints of pregnancy, a proactive approach to physical wellness is highly recommended, and prenatal yoga is an especially effective tool to help achieve this. A carefully curated routine can allow women to get consistent exercise, which doesn’t place undue strain on the body.
Strengthening the body
Studies have found that prenatal yoga plans, when customized appropriately, can be very beneficial during pregnancy, as well as during labour. Simple stretching exercises help to strengthen the spine and hip joints, improving blood circulation in the abdomen, adequately preparing it for the imminent weight gain in the uterine region.
Ensuring consistent physical activity
During pregnancy, women typically can’t follow a regular workout routine, especially anything that involves heavy cardiovascular exercise. Without sufficient physical activity, women can run the risk of excessive gestational weight gain, deep vein thrombosis, preterm birth, and more. Prenatal yoga can help women stick to a steady exercise routine, to help keep these potential issues at bay.
Breathwork to enhance physiological functions
Breathwork sessions can provide excellent additional benefits, and act as an effective supplement to any prenatal yoga routine. Breathing exercises can help boost physiological functions, like steadying the heart rate and strengthening the lungs. Pregnancy can sometimes place a strain on the respiratory system, affecting the woman’s ability to breath normally. Well-regulated breathing exercises can help restore breathing patterns, ensuring better fetal and maternal health.
Alleviating stress and anxiety
Pregnancy is a significant and life-changing experience, so it is normal for some women to feel bouts of stress and anxiety during the process. High stress levels during pregnancy can contribute to problems like high blood pressure or heart disease, which can affect both the mother and the baby. This is where Breathwork can be especially useful. Carefully regulated breathing exercises can have a calming effect on the mind, helping to combat the effects of stress and anxiety, and ensure a smoother pregnancy.
By ensuring all these measures are in place, women can significantly alleviate the physical and mental burdens that may arise during the wonderful adventure of childbirth. And while the journey may not be without its twists and turns, implementing a steady exercise and meditation routine is one of the best ways to prepare women for any challenges that may lie ahead.