Things to consider when considering prenatal yoga
Your little miracle is on the way, the nursery is decorated, and the bag for the hospital is packed. As exciting as a new child is, you must always remember the other most important person in your life: you! Getting in shape while pregnant can prove challenging, but there are things you can do to help yourself and your baby for the big day.
One way to achieve your fitness goals while pregnant is to join a pregnancy yoga class. Why yoga? There are a few reasons:
- Yoga helps you stay in good shape, but it is low impact, something that’s definitely needed during the latter months of pregnancy.
- This may seem minor, but good breathing will help you stay calm and relaxed during labor. According to the Baby Center, a veritable how-to guide to pregnancy, babies, and young children, blood pressure rises during times of stress, so it’s important to keep your blood pressure down, especially while in pain. Yoga techniques can help with that.
- You can meet other pregnant women. Constantly having to ask your female relatives for pregnancy advice can be embarrassing or sometimes impossible if you’re not close to them. However, by joining a pregnancy yoga class, you’ll make new friends and have an entire network of people to help you out.
Here are some definite dos and don’ts when it comes to your pregnant yoga journey:
Where to begin
1. Before you think about doing physical activity during your pregnancy, check with your doctor. If you’ve done the same activities leading up to your pregnancy, you might be ok. Just in case, consult with a physician to get his/her approval. Additionally, keep in contact with them as your pregnancy progresses. Take their advice and listen to your body. If you’re too tired, don’t push it.
2. Seek out a yoga teacher who is specifically qualified to teach yoga to pregnant women.
3. Take in extra calories to make up for the exercise you’re doing. Don’t forget, you’re eating for two!
4. Drink PLENTY of water. I know it might seem annoying, but you need to stay hydrated even more than usual. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “Dehydration during pregnancy can lead to serious pregnancy complications, including neural tube defects, low amniotic fluid, inadequate breast milk production, and even premature labor. These risks, in turn, can lead to birth defects due to lack of water and nutritional support for you baby.” Those are some pretty severe side effects that could be avoided if you’ll just keep a bottle of water in your hand.
So you’ve found a class, what should you look out for?
First Trimester: You won’t have as many restrictions because your body hasn’t undergone a lot of changes quite yet. However, during this time period make sure you’re still getting plenty of water and calories. Don’t over do it when it comes to exercising (I’ll probably repeat that more than once). You might be tired or sluggish during this time. Listen to your body. Also, don’t forget to stretch! You don’t want to pull something in your lower abdomen and end up in the hospital on bedrest.
Second Trimester: Here is where the major changes begin. The Mayo Clinic has a pretty extensive list of pregnancy changes:
- Stomach expansion
- Enlarged breasts
- Dizziness from blood vessel dilation
- Cramps, both uterine and in your external muscles, like your legs
- Emotional sensitivity
- Loosening joints in preparation for labor
You’re probably going to have to deal with some if not all of those symptoms when you reach the midway mark of your pregnancy. With each one of these considerations, you need to make additional compromises with your yoga routine.
Your stomach and breasts are going to throw off your balance, so be especially careful getting into poses. You’ll need to be especially careful of getting into position because your joints will be looser and unable to sustain some movements you used to do with ease. Be patient with yourself and make sure to remember that this is only a temporary state.
Dizziness may strike at any time. Sit down and wait for it to subside before you decide whether or not to continue.
If you’re cramping a lot, don’t forget to hydrate and eat something with a lot of potassium. If the cramping is too severe, consider staying home from class. If it is a Braxton Hicks contraction, be aware that an increase in severity might actually become preterm labor. Check with your physician if you have any concerns. If you’re in class, don’t be afraid to take a break. You need rest and TLC more than anything else right now.
Especially sensitive today? You may find that you’d be more comfortable staying home and reading a good book rather than going to class. If you want to go to class, just explain the situation to your peers. Everyone else in the class is going through the same thing so it’s not that big of a deal.
Third Trimester: It’s almost that time and you’re preparing yourself for a beautiful, squirmy baby. The number of irritations might also increase though. To name a few:
- Back pain
- Shortness of breath
- More breast growth
- The need to urinate
This is an important time to keep in contact with your doctor so you will have the best advice on how to proceed with your prenatal yoga classes. Here are a few ways to keep from putting yourself at risk if you’ve got the a-ok.
1. Don’t hold poses too long. The pressure puts strain on your joints and increases the likelihood of hurting yourself.
2. Your size will probably make you less graceful. That’s ok! Use blocks, walls, and cords to keep yourself up where you need to be and as a safety net so you can still get to your poses.
3. Get up and down slowly. You don’t want to fall down from dizziness or simple clumsiness.
4. Don’t lie flat on your back. Put a pillow under your hips for a few reasons:
- On your back, your lungs are more compressed and you’ll be even more short of breath.
- Your heartburn could get worse in that position.
- There is a large vein in the chest that can become restricted and pinch the blood supply going to the uterus by lying flat on your back.
5. You’ll need to urinate more so keep hydrated and if you start to overheat, don’t hesitate to stop.
6. Take your time to cool down after you work out. It’s better that you bring your breath and heart rate down slowly.
I hope that helped all you pregnancy gurus out there. Namaste!
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