Pregnancy Yoga can be a great way to relax, exercise safely and prepare for birth. Because this form of movement works with breath, muscle control and inner and outer strength it is very popular amongst pregnant women. But to make the most of pregnancy yoga, it must be safe and tailored to your needs.
“Yoga’s a great well to keep everything supple, keep in great shape and just to keep everything ticking over.” (Jessica Ennis-Hill, Olympic Gold Medalist)
Yoga offers a workout for the body and the mind, making it a great form of exercise for mums-to-be. Pregnancy is the perfect time to get in touch with your body, and there’s no better way to do this that with a class that allows time for relaxation and reflection, as well as some serious stretching and strengthening, preparing both the mind and the body for birth and beyond.
Yoga in Pregnancy: Medical Advice
Yoga is a recommended form of antenatal exercise according to the NHS, National Childbirth Trust (NCT) and the Royal College of Midwives, who offer Yoga training for maternity professionals. Pregnant women are now advised to do 150 minutes of ‘moderate physical activity’ each week in new “Physical Activity” guidelines from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers.
Two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week doesn’t sound much, but midwives and government medical officers are in agreement that the benefits are enormous. Physical activity during pregnancy helps to control weight gain, reduces the problems associated with high blood pressure and helps to prevent diabetes of pregnancy. Exercising also improves fitness, sleep quality and mood, helping women to prepare physically and mentally for birth and beyond.
The Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is a series of postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) that focus on the balance between the body and mind. Practised regularly, Yoga improves physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and has particular benefits for mums-to-be:
- Improved circulation, muscle tone and flexibility
During pregnancy, many women experience circulatory problems and struggle with their increased weight and size. Yoga helps to maintain and develop physical strength in preparation for birth and caring for a baby. A specialist antenatal yoga class with focus on exercises that empower women for birth and beyond such as pelvic floor sequences.
- Enhanced mental agility, achieved through relaxation, breathing and meditation Exercises that focus on deep breathing and relaxation prepare the mind for birth and help many women to learn to breath through their contractions, reducing pain and need of medical intervention
- Reduced muscle tension and feelings of calm Yoga postures and breathing exercises relieve tension and may assist women in welcoming and managing the challenges of birth and childcare.
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an experienced yogi! All mums-to-be can benefit from Yoga.
Recommended Exercises for Pregnancy
There are some Yoga postures that are not recommended during pregnancy, such as those involving lying on your back for a prolonged period. Always let your Yoga Teacher know that you are pregnant, and if you are in any doubt, speak to your doctor or midwife.
There are many books and instructional videos that focus on Pregnancy Yoga, many of which have sections for each trimester and Postnatal Yoga. Babycentre.co.uk also offer free instructional videos for mums-to-be.
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Every system of the body is affected by pregnacy. The process puts pressure on joints, ligaments and organs, and can cause discomfort and pain. Massage is a relaxing treatment that helps to alleviate side effects such as backaches and swelling, helping you to enjoy the special experience of pregnancy and find peace with your body.
Massage offers women emotional and physiological support during a time of great bodily change and can help prepare the body for birth. Because massage can lower stress levels, a professional massage is believed to benefit the unborn baby as well as the mother.
Pregnancy Massage should be slow, gentle and safe. A comprehensive consultation should take place before proceeding with massage and a good therapist will only offer massage if it is safe.
You can find out more about Pregnancy Massage in this article by Massage and Yoga specialsist, Lubna Sheikh.
BSc (Hons) Microbiology
Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.