If you’re pregnant and looking for ways to relax or stay fit, you may be considering prenatal yoga. Good for you! But did you know that prenatal yoga may also help you prepare for labor and promote your baby’s health? Before you start prenatal yoga, understand the range of possible benefits, as well as what a typical class entails and important safety tips.
What are the benefits of prenatal yoga?
Much like other types of childbirth-preparation classes, prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. Research suggests that prenatal yoga is safe and can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies.
For example, studies have suggested that prenatal yoga can:
Reduce stress and anxiety
Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth
Decrease lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and shortness of breath
Decrease the risk of preterm labor, pregnancy-induced hypertension and intrauterine growth restriction — a condition that slows a baby’s growth
Prenatal yoga can also help you meet and bond with other pregnant women and prepare for the stress of being a new parent.
To protect your health and your baby’s health during prenatal yoga, follow basic safety guidelines. For example:
Talk to your health care provider. Before you begin a prenatal yoga program, make sure you have your health care provider’s OK. You may not be able to do prenatal yoga if you are at increased risk of preterm labor or have certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or back problems.
Set realistic goals. For most pregnant women, at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity is recommended on most, if not all, days of the week. However, even shorter or less frequent workouts can help you stay in shape and prepare for labor.
Pace yourself. If you can’t speak normally while you’re doing prenatal yoga, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard.
Stay cool and hydrated. Practice prenatal yoga in a well-ventilated room to avoid overheating. Drink plenty of fluids during prenatal yoga to keep yourself hydrated.
Avoid certain postures. When doing poses, bend from your hips — not your back — to maintain normal spine curvature. Avoid lying on your belly or back, doing deep forward or backward bends, or doing twisting poses that put pressure on your abdomen. You can modify twisting poses so that you only move your upper back, shoulders and rib cage. Avoid inverted poses, which involve extending your legs above your heart or head, unless you’re an experienced yoga practitioner. As your pregnancy progresses, use props during postures to accommodate changes in your center of gravity. If you wonder whether a pose is safe, ask your instructor for guidance.
Don’t overdo it. As you do prenatal yoga, pay attention to your body and how you feel. Start slow and avoid positions that are beyond your level of experience or comfort. Stretch only as far as you would have before pregnancy.
Our prenatal classes take place every Saturday at 11:30 am.