Pregnancy and motherhood are journeys we sign onto for a lifetime. Think of the last journey you planned. How did you prepare? Did you read a book about your destination? Did you contemplate what to pack? Maybe, if the journey was physical you started training.
Imagine preparing for this journey being surrounded by a group of other women training for the same event. This is the greatest benefit to participating in a Prenatal and/or Baby and Me yoga class. A sense of community and camaraderie is developed with other women going through the same experiences.
Ask any pregnant woman how’s she’s feeling and, depending on how well you know her, you may get a long list of concerns – from back aches, to swollen feet, digestive issues, and let’s not forget, fear and anxiety surrounding the impending birth. Or ask a new mom how’s she doing and she’ll probably respond, tired, worried, not sure if she’s doing the right thing.
Prenatal yoga is a place for women to share information, ask questions and connect with themselves and their growing babies. “Labor and motherhood can be intense and one of the most physical and exhilarating things we will do as women,” says Jacci Reynolds, MS, ERYT. “At the same time, women are not in the same physical shape we were in 100 years ago and we are more stressed. As with anything else in life, we need to ‘train’ for labor and motherhood.”
Many expectant moms in the Santa Fe Area are discovering an all-natural way to stay fit and flexible, reduce stress and prepare for the challenges of labor. Their secret is not new — it’s actually thousands of years old. Prenatal yoga can prepare new mothers physically, mentally and spiritually for the day-to-day changes in their body as well as for the “marathon” of labor.
“Prenatal Yoga has been a blessing for me. I love communing with all the other pregnant mama’s and being nurtured by the practice that I feel is especially for me. There truly is no substitute for the feeling that’s generated each week!,” Terina, Santa Fe, NM.
Specifically, yoga poses and intense sensation work can build the strength, flexibility and stamina needed for labor and delivery. Meditation, visualizations, and sounding (use of one’s voice) aid women in relaxing and letting go of control. Breathwork can aid in pain management, enhanced sleep and decreased moodiness. Yoga eases pregnancy discomforts such as heartburn, shortness of breath, nausea, and back pain.
Anthony Giovine, D.O., of A Woman’s Place Obstetrics and Gynecology in Little Silver, recommends Prenatal yoga to all of his patients, except those few who have complications requiring bed rest. “Women who have practiced Prenatal yoga tend to focus better, and I have seen them require less pain medication,” said Dr. Giovine. “They seem to have shorter second stage labor, which is the most difficult stage. They have better body tone and better frames of mind, similar to a lot of athletes.”
Many pregnant women are also finding that the inner focus required to maintain a yoga pose allows them to quiet the constant chatter in their minds, and brings out a feeling of mindful tranquility.
In fact, it is not uncommon for “graduates” of Prenatal classes to stop by with their babies and share their birthing stories with the class or join a Baby and Me class which focuses on the next part of the journey…bonding with baby in this world and regaining one’s strength and inner focus.
“Baby and Me yoga class was nothing short of amazing. Every week I looked forward to feeling more connected to my child, more connected to my body and more calm in my spirit. It was also wonderful to be around other parents that were experiencing all the same things that I was. I have yoga to thank for helping me to be a more peaceful, connected, and happy mother,” Katie, Harwood, MD.
Regardless of the type of birth a mother is planning, the focus and serenity she learns in her yoga practice will help her through pregnancy, labor, birth and afterwards. But just as marriage is more than a wedding day, motherhood is more than a delivery, Reynolds remarked. “The empowerment you learn in yoga can also help years later when you’re dealing with your willful 2-year-old. When your toddler is in the throes of a tantrum, you’ll do well if you remember your breathing!”
Pre and Post Natal Yoga is an opportunity to get to know both your body and your baby as well as build confidence in your body’s ability to give birth and your ability to be a mother. Pregnancy is the start of a truly amazing journey. Prenatal Yoga can help women savor every moment from the very beginning, developing an intimacy with themselves and their unborn child and connecting with the miracle of life. — Jacci Reynolds, MS, ERYT.