Yoga throughout pregnancy can be hugely a supportive tool and I’ve written several articles on it’s benefit . Ultimately staying more mobile throughout your pregnancy and cultivating a connection with your body and baby, will carry you
through your pregnancy and beyond.
What are the benefits of yoga in pregnancy?
The World Health Organisation recommend 150 minutes of exercise a
week and yoga can definitely be included as part of that.
- Exercising brings a multitude of evidence based benefits including:
Maintenance of weight, although we don’t want you to loose weight
in pregnancy, we know that excessive weight gain can lead to a
variety of complications in pregnancy and birth.
- Reduced incidence of pregnancy complications including, high blood
pressure and diabetes
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
- Shorter labour times
- Not only this, but yoga offers all these additional benefits:
– Helping to connect to your body and your baby
– Help with symptoms of mild depression and anxiety
– Help with common physical complaints in pregnancy such as pelvic
girdle pain and sciatica
– Improved strength and flexibility
– Help to align your baby for birth
– Preparation of your body for the birthing process, giving you
positions and postures you can take with you in to labour
– Improved pain scores in women that practice
Is Yoga Safe in Pregnancy?
In short yes! There are certain things we recommend to avoid however:
- Laying on your belly after 12 weeks: You’re unlikely to want to adopt
any prone poses, as by this point in pregnancy, your uterus will have
grown outside of your pelvis and can feel pretty uncomfortable. It
will mean pressure on an area you probably want to avoid.
- Closed twists: A closed twist compresses the side we’re turning
towards (normally against a leg or thigh). The main reason to avoid
this is increased pressure on the pelvic organs and a ringing or twisting action, potentially squishing your uterus. Open (away) twists are fine, so just turning in the opposite direction so your belly is free.
In reality we probably do these type of moments day to day and so
risk of any damage is fairly minimal.
- Supine poses (laying on your back): After 20 weeks your uterus is at the level of your belly button, which is the point when your inferior vena cava (the largest vein carrying blood from your lower body back to your heart) forms from 2 smaller veins that take blood from your legs. This massive vessel carries blood to your heart, so when compressed by your bump, it may cause your blood pressure to drop. We know that there’s an increased risk of still birth when women fall asleep on their back, but it’s common to roll over at night. So if you wake up on your back, please don’t worry, simply roll back to your side to go back to sleep. There are certainly no proven harm from short periods of floor based movement. Though I would always advise to stop if you feel something doesn’t feel right or you feel light headed or nauseous.
- Deep squats: Deep squats are great towards the end of pregnancy when you want to help your baby in to an optimal position for birth, but if you’re at risk of preterm labour, are probably best avoided from around 30-37 weeks due to a theoretical risk. They can also exacerbate symptoms of pelvic girdle pain, so as with all things in yoga, listen to your body and if it feels uncomfortable or painful, avoid.
When is it safe to start yoga in pregnancy?
Many yoga teachers will not allow you to join their class until after your 12 week dating scan and we haven’t really questioned this doctrine for many decades. The premise is based around the fact that sadly miscarriage is more common within the first trimester, with 25% of women tragically going through pregnancy loss. However, the rationale behind this blanket
rule is more the potential association women may make with yoga having caused this and subsequent affects on their mental health than any proven causal link. The evidence however is conclusive, exercise does not increase
your risk of miscarriage.
You may decide you don’t want to practice yoga within the first trimester due to feelings of nausea or tiredness, or that you’d feel more reassured to wait for your first scan before starting. These are completely valid feelings and it’s important to listen and respect what your body needs, but if you are well and wish to, you are more than welcome to practice and know
that all of my classes are suitable and safe.
Overall yoga can be such a fantastic tool to help you connect in with a changing body and your growing baby and offers so much more than just a regular exercise class, nurturing your mind, body and spirit.