8 Ways Prenatal Yoga Will Help to Improve Your Birth

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  • June 19, 2014

8 Ways Prenatal Yoga Will Help to Improve Your Birth

Yoga has changed my life. A few days without and I get cranky, sluggish, and am not very much fun to be around. With my regular routine I feel healthy, vibrant, calmer, and happier. Yes, yoga helps your body to stretch, align, center, and strengthen…. but yoga is more than just a physical routine. For me, it is also a moving meditation and acts as a safe place to reflect and renew. It seems logical that both its physical and emotional attributes would be invaluable during a pregnancy. Here are a few reasons to begin -or hopefully continue- your prenatal yoga routine to improve your birth and your life:

1. Yoga brings us back to the breath

“Breathing is a very important part of delivering a baby, it helps to relax the body and take your mind from the pain and strain…. Yogis use what is called conscious breathing to help ‘still the mind.’ Yoga breath work also increases the depth of the breath. By learning ‘three-part breath,’ or ‘Ujjayi breathing,’ we learn to breathe to our bellies, which really means we learn to use the abdominals to breathe and use our diaphragm and really work the ribs to breathe. This allows us to get more oxygen into our bodies.”1

2. Yoga improves physical stamina

“Yoga’s other benefits during labor include helping increase a pregnant woman’s physical stamina if labor lasts a long time (though regular yoga practice has also been shown to shorten the length of labor by as much as two hours). The increased stamina comes from the physical discipline required to hold postures long enough to get strength-building benefits. It also comes from the mental focus that results from yoga’s concentration on breathing exercises that help the lungs expand to their full capacity — which can feel challenging in late pregnancy.”2

3. Yoga relaxes the body and calms the mind

“Yoga doesn’t just help to manage the strong physical sensations of childbirth. Labour is both a psychological and physical event and as the due date approaches many women, particularly first time mums, experience feelings of fear and apprehension about what their labour will be like. This fear and anxiety in turn can result in an increased perception of pain. Yoga as a mind-body practice can be useful in relaxing the mind and the body during the contractions of childbirth.”3

4. Yoga opens the hips and pelvis

“Preparing your body for birth means taking all those newly loosened joints and ligaments (thanks, pregnancy hormones!) and working them into proper alignment for birth. Prenatal yoga helps with this by opening the pelvic bones and hips — and toning the inner thighs to help support this alignment.”4

5. Yoga teaches you to learn to use the muscles of your pelvic floor effectively

“A regular practice of squatting asana helps to tone muscles of your pelvic floor and helps you gain strength to remain comfortable in a squatting position. If you are used to working with these muscles, you will find it easier to use them during the pushing phase of labor, and if they are toned they will work more quickly and effectively.”5

6. Yoga can reduce complications in high risk pregnancies

“The first randomized study of yoga in high-risk pregnancy has shown that yoga can potentially be an effective therapy in reducing hypertensive related complications of pregnancy and improving fetal outcomes.”6

7. Yoga improves sleep quality and quantity

“Researchers at Harvard Medical School investigated how a daily yoga practice might affect sleep for people with insomnia and found broad improvements to measurements of sleep quality and quantity….. Insomnia has been found linked to both anxiety and depression. The relationship between sleeplessness and these mental health disorders is still being understood, including whether one condition precipitates the other. But insomnia, depression and anxiety share a deep and difficult connection.”  7

8. Yoga helps promote birth community

“Participation in a group prenatal class provides a supportive community of other women who are experiencing each stage of pregnancy themselves and preparing for birth.”8

Here is a great free prenatal video series I discovered that you can practice with at home. As with everything, listen to your body! Make sure you are doing poses that are safe for pregnancy, and consult professionals if you have any doubts:

Kyra Bramble is a published writer, private chef, teacher, yogi, traveler, dancer and doula. She is deeply passionate about birth education and empowering women to see birth as a sacred journey. She sees many parallels between the commercialization of birth and food, and is committed to bringing love and awareness to both subjects. She loves being barefoot, very small dogs, dancing on top of things, and outdoor markets. She lives in San Francisco, CA with her partner. Please visit More Pleaze to learn more about her culinary inclinations. 

*Photo by Elsie Escobar and used under Creative Commons License.  

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