Practicing yoga during my first pregnancy was my first glimpse into the life changing magic of yoga so I had a lot to say when East Anglian Daily Times asked me to talk about the benefits of pregnancy yoga.
Here's our conversation below:
Why is it important for women to stay active during pregnancy?
Staying active helps to maintain a feeling of wellbeing, whether you are pregnant or not. If you become less active you are more likely to feel tired and sluggish and experience low mood. Lower activity levels combined with the natural changes to your body during pregnancy, and extra demands to your energy levels can make you feel even more exhausted.
Staying active will help to reduce excessive weight gain, keep you strong, thereby reducing strain on your body and reduce pregnancy aches and pains. Maintaining strength and fitness during pregnancy will also make it easier for your body to recover post-birth.
Staying active during pregnancy also helps reduce birth complications. If you are inactive during pregnancy it is going to be harder to stay active throughout labour and feel in control. Evidence shows that this can lead to a higher chance of interventions during birth.
What are some of the common misconceptions about exercising whilst pregnant?
People often tend to be over cautious and stop doing exercise that they enjoyed before pregnancy. My advice would be to listen to your body. If you previously enjoyed a certain type of exercise you should continue to enjoy it if that feels ok for you.
The most common misconception that I hear is that it's not safe to run. If you ran before pregnancy there is no reason to stop, as long as you don't over do it, and always listen to your body. There is usually (but not always) a point at which changes in your balance and the additional weight of the baby lead to discomfort, and a feeling that it is time to stop.
Have you found that these misconceptions continue to put pregnant women off exercising?
Yes I think women are understandably cautious and wary of doing anything to put their health and their baby's health at risk. I think that the main barrier to enjoying exercise is not being sure that certain exercises are safe. If for example you attend a general yoga class it can make the experience less enjoyable and relaxing if you are wondering if each exercise is safe. This is why it can be hugely beneficial to attend classes that are tailored to pregnancy as you can then relax and enjoy the whole class without the worry that you are going to put your health or your baby's health at risk.
How can yoga help women during their pregnancy?
Yoga helps women tune into their bodies and be more aware of how they are feeling physically and mentally. This then enables them to make better choices about keeping active, taking steps to reduce anxiety, improve their posture etc. The movements in class help ease away common pregnancy ailments such as backache and pelvis pain so that women feel more comfortable as their bodies are changing during pregnancy.
Pregnancy yoga is also great for reducing stress and teaching useful relaxation techniques at a time when anxiety is very common.
Women often have lots of other things going on in their lives besides being pregnant, such a small children to care for, house moves, stressful jobs etc, so my classes are really helpful for providing a space where women can take time out and focus on their pregnancy, their changing bodies and how they are feeling.
How do your pregnancy classes help to prepare women for birth?
My classes include specific movements that can be useful during labour, and help women feel more in touch and trusting of their bodies.
Building strength and confidence in moving their bodies throughout their pregnancies allows them to feel more comfortable being active during birth.
A key benefit is breath awareness and techniques which helps promote a sense of calm and empowerment. This is key for helping women to remain relaxed during labour, which in turn leads to less complications during birth.
Can you tell me a little about what a typical class might involve at LushTums Ipswich (Now Bright + Well Yoga)?
Each class starts by talking about what's going on physically and emotionally for each person each week so that the sessions are tailored and everyone goes away feeling better than when they arrived. This is also beneficial for sharing tips to reduce pregnancy ailments and reassure women that they are not the only ones experiencing certain issues.
We practice meditation and breathing exercises to start the class feeling relaxed and connected to the breath. We then move, introducing poses which ease aches and pains and build strength. Breathing exercises are incorporated throughout the class and we end each session with a 20 minute guided relaxation. This is equivalent to 4 hours sleep and is much needed for pregnant women who often experience broken sleep and struggle to get comfortable. I often have to gently wake people up at the end!
I hope you found this useful and interesting. If you have any questions then leave a comment below or email me.