To carry a child is one of the most rewarding experiences in a woman’s life, but it also comes with a fair share of challenges. Your body goes through a wealth of changes to accommodate your baby – from shifting bones and stretched muscles to swollen appendages and surging hormones, there is a lot of discomfort to endure before that magical delivery day. When you’re feeling so achy and drained, the last thing you probably are thinking of is working out.
But if you’re not at least getting in some yoga every week, you’re doing yourself – and your baby – a great disservice. Yoga’s concentration on stretching, deep breathing and mindfulness not only relieve some of the more bothersome physical symptoms of pregnancy but also contribute to a healthier baby and safer delivery. Find out more details on these benefits and more below!
While everyone experiences pregnancy symptoms differently, negative side effects often worsen in the second trimester; fatigue, poor circulation, lower back pain, and morning sickness are just a few of the issues that can make even the most physically fit woman want to crawl back to bed. But even with some simple yoga stretches and breathing exercises, you’re promoting greater oxygen intake and increased circulation throughout your body.
R & R
If the physical problems weren’t enough, heightened hormone levels also lead to emotional distress, with many moms-to- be falling victim to depression, anxiety, and paranoid thoughts. Fortunately, yoga is a meditative practice that forces you to be more in tune with your body and baby and less focused on racing thoughts and irrational fears. Soon, you’ll notice decreased stress levels, uplifted mood, and, yes, fewer crying spells. Not only does yoga calm the mind, but it also lends some peace to your overtired body. After activating parasympathetic mode through deep breathing, a person can attain more quality sleep and therefore reduce overall fatigue throughout the day.
Making time for the gym or even at-home workouts is almost like a part-time job in itself despite the health benefits. But then pregnancy comes in to throw a curveball for even the biggest fitness junkies. The answer to these gym woes is yoga’s beneficial but low- impact nature. Practicing yoga – whether in a class or at home – will help you to continue building muscle strength and burning calories. Not all yoga is just quietly sitting around and stretching – if you’re looking for something a little more intense, there are classes that will get you to break out in a sweat; just be sure you sign up for a prenatal class or inform your teacher of your condition so they can give you modified instructions since certain activities could be dangerous for the pregnant woman and her growing baby.
Muscle Strengthening and Belly Support
Yoga is not only important for maintaining overall physical health, but it can prevent some complications that come with pregnancy, such as diastasis recti, a condition where the walls of the abdomen separate and don’t return to their former structure. Yoga can help to strengthen the muscle groups that endure the most tension from a growing baby, including your core, legs, and back.
One of the most annoying things you can hear before delivery is “stay calm!” Similar to the Lamaze technique, yoga teaches pregnant women the proper ways to breathe and relax the body so that labor pains aren’t as intense and delivery goes more smoothly. Some yoga moves can be difficult to hold in the absence of careful breathing, so dealing with this discomfort teaches expectant mothers how to channel pain through breathing.
Connect with Your Unborn Child
The excitement before childbirth mounts steadily with each passing week, so you’ll likely want to bond with your baby in any way you can before the big day. Singing lullabies to your baby bump, feeling its kicks and wiggles, and debating on baby names are just a few ways that mothers grow closer to their baby. But did you ever consider yoga for the same reasons? Not only is meditation calming, but it allows a woman to hone in on the inner goings-on of a baby’s nestled place within your womb. When it comes time to have your baby, you’ll already feel like you know them so well from all the times you
spent concentrating on their fulfilling presence within you.
Being able to rely on a calming activity like yoga for healthy, stress-relieving, pain-reducing benefits allows you to let go of the negative side effects and embrace your role as the beautiful life-creator that you truly are, while at the same time, promoting the health of the fetus and, in the end, a safe delivery.
Heather Lomax is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Orangetheory Fitness. She writes for a variety of health blogs, and in her spare time, takes special interest in researching methods for achieving optimal fitness goals.