Childbirth is a wonderful and miraculous life experience – but it is not without its fair share of challenges. 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 yoga is an especially effective tool to help achieve this:
- Yoga can allow women to establish a consistent exercise routine, which doesn’t place undue strain on 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.
- Steady physical activity during pregnancy, can help reduce the risk of conditions like excessive gestational weight gain, deep vein thrombosis, and more.
- Breathwork sessions, administered in tandem with yoga, can benefit other physiological functions, like steadying the heart rate and strengthening the lungs.
- Carefully regulated breathing exercises can have a calming effect on the mind, helping to combat stress and anxiety.
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.