Prenatal Yoga

The Power of Prenatal Yoga to Prepare for Birth | By Kristen Grace

Last Updated: February 6, 2022By

When you’re pregnant, your body is in a constant state of change — making room for a baby, nourishing you and your growing child and getting ready to bring them into the world. Many pregnant people are left feeling disconnected from their bodies and unsure how to prepare for labor and birth. After all, birth can be a frightening and mysterious experience. Thankfully, prenatal yoga practices welcomes both beginner and experienced yogis. The practice uses breathing techniques and mindfulness to equip the pregnant person with tools to have an empowered pregnancy and birth.

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga strengthens the pelvic floor, a group of muscles that support the uterus and other organs. To start, Jess Gruber, a yoga therapist, homebirth doula, Ayurvedic postpartum doula and menstrual educator, suggests standing star pose. When you’re in the pose, she says to imagine that your feet are magnetized and pulling together, and you’ll feel your pelvic floor pull upward. Additionally, you can practice chair pose with a block between your thighs, or bridge pose with a block between your knees. However, Gruber adds, the goal is not simply a strong pelvic floor but a balanced pelvic floor: one that is both active and flexible. When your pelvic floor is over-engaged, the muscles can become shorter, making it harder for baby to come out (among other complications). “A really simple way to balance your pelvic floor is to breathe properly,” Gruber says. She recommends to rest on your sits bones, as you do when preparing for a seated forward fold, and breathe full, diaphragmatic breaths. “When we breathe in, the base of our pelvis widens a little. When we exhale, it closes a little,” she says. When you can tap into a deeper understanding of your ability to balance strong contraction and easeful release of the pelvic bone systems, you can create a dynamic and efficacious connection to your pelvic floor.

Prenatal yoga and mindfulness also help you connect to yourself, empowering you to intuitively navigate pregnancy, labor and birth. A deeper connection to yourself during pregnancy can, “help support the labor process, help people understand when they need to push and how they need to position their bodies to get baby into a really good position and help people to mitigate traumatic experiences in birth [a sense of shock when things unfold differently than expected],” according to Gruber. She suggests goddess pose for connecting to and empowering yourself. She says to consider placing one hand on your heart and one on your belly rather than the traditional cactus arms. Notice how you feel in the pose and resist the urge to assign negative reactions to the sensations. Notice if you shake, or if you feel strong or where you feel hot. Create space to experience how the pose feels, free of judgement.

Prenatal yoga and mindfulness also help you connect to yourself, empowering you to intuitively navigate pregnancy, labor and birth.

Gruber also encourages pregnant yogis to try mindfulness and breathing techniques that allow you to be your own witness and tune your mind to focus on a single action. For example, Dirga Pranayama (the three-part breath), or counting your inhales and exhales (inhale one, exhale two, inhale three, until 10, then start again). As Gruber puts it, “It can be challenging to get connected to your body if you’re trying really hard to figure out where to put your foot and where to put your arms.” Pregnant yogis can deepen the connection between mind and body by incorporating simple, mindful breathing into their practice.

“It doesn’t have to be complicated,” Gruber says. Your prenatal yoga practice is your practice, in the same way that your birth experience is your birth. Your practice might look different than another’s, and that’s okay! Try not to get too caught up in what you think the pose should look like, or what you think the breath should feel like. Instead, focus on witnessing what is happening within your body and learning to understand and communicate with it. Prenatal yoga, and all it encompasses, is a practice to prepare you for birth by reminding you of your own strength, softness and power.

Learn more about Jess Gruber at

Photos courtesy of Jess Gruber.

HeadshotKristen Grace is a writer, editor and yogi who ardently loves listening to, reading and telling great stories. She is at home near water, so you can often find her barefoot by mountain streams, dreaming of the ocean or jumping in rain puddles. Kristen finds bliss in nature, especially on picnics, as she is also a foodie and amateur baker.

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