On our beautifully unique pregnancy journeys, our bodies know exactly how to evolve to make room for the new addition that will be developing under our bodies’ perfect care. We have the knowledge and strength to nurture the life within us. The body has it under control, and through a regular yoga practice, we can learn to intuitively communicate with our bodies, find strength in our breath and find confidence in our inner knowledge — these tools allow us to overcome challenges with grace and peace.
I know firsthand the power of practicing yoga throughout pregnancy. I have birthed two children, one without and one with a regular yoga practice. The differences are monumental. With my first child, I did not realize the benefits I was keeping from my body and baby. I had difficulty sleeping, my muscles were aching and I was anxious about all of the unknowns. My labor was long and I was exhausted. I received the epidural when I was almost fully dilated. I tore in multiple places and had a bad reaction to the epidural. I was shocked with how sore I was after giving birth — I could barely walk for the next few days. I look back on my first pregnancy with love — first of all, it led to my perfect, beautiful baby. Second, I learned about myself and my capabilities.
Pregnancy can cause anxiety; there are many unknowns and details that are out of our control. Yoga is a calming practice that can ease nerves and anxiety through movement and breath. During my second pregnancy, two events occurred that turned my life upside down. Thankfully, I had my yoga practice to keep me grounded and breathing intuitively. I knew for the health of myself and my baby that I needed to release the stress that was being held in my body. In the toughest moments, I would close my eyes and tell myself, “Just breathe.” I would listen to the sound of my breath and think of my baby thriving inside of me. My deep breath would wrap around me like an embrace and it would remind me of my strength. Intuitive movement and breath can lead us to find peace in unimaginable places. Just like anything else, we must practice using these tools in order to fully utilize their graceful power. Yoga doesn’t stop when we get off our mat, it moves through every aspect of our lives.
Once I started practicing yoga, I knew I was never going back. When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, I was excited to learn how yoga could help me during pregnancy. Make sure to practice prenatal yoga, as not all poses are safe for each trimester. As your body changes, so should your yoga practice. There are many wonderful practices out there that will be safe for mom and baby. I would highly recommended Lamaze childbirth educator and doula Bridget Teyler, found on YouTube. Her videos are full of education and encouragement. They cover a vast timeframe from pregnancy to breastfeeding. I love her wonderful, peaceful meditations. I listened to them throughout my whole pregnancy, but found them most helpful during my early stages of labor. In her videos, she teaches the different poses you can do throughout your pregnancy that will allow your body and baby to align perfectly for birth. This can lead to a faster and easier labor. Plus, practicing yoga will strengthen your pelvic floor, giving you the ability to go into labor strong and ready for the challenge ahead.
The life-changing lesson I learned from yoga is how to move and breath intuitively. During labor, I found myself moving my body, breathing and making deep humming sounds in a way I have never done before, completely allowing my inner-knowledge to take over and lead me through the experience. I had my second baby without an epidural. I did not tear and I was able to walk a few hours later. If it wasn’t for my yoga practice, I wouldn’t have known to how to trust and listen to my body. Instead of nervously waiting for each painful contraction, I was at peace knowing my movement and breath could carry me through any amount of pain. Labor can be an incredible, empowering experience for anyone. Allow the body to tell you what it needs and listen openly. Everyone’s birth story will be different — whether your birth is natural or with an epidural, at home or at the hospital or something in-between — you should be immensely proud of yourself for the amazing journey you’re on. Everyone’s body is different and we must remember that what works for one person may not work for the other.
You are equipped with powerful tools that can carry you through the pain of labor, fear, self-doubt and life’s most challenging moments. Having a yoga practice is a gift with benefits that will go beyond our expectations. Starting a yoga practice now, no matter where you are in your pregnancy, will leave you feeing strong and empowered for labor and the rest of your life.
Photos by Yan Krukau.