The benefits of Prenatal Yoga for preparing mothers for childbirth are vast. And there is no bigger transformation in a woman’s life than pregnancy and birth. It’s a beautiful, challenging, wild rollercoaster ride that impacts every facet of an individual.
It’s impossible to not be transformed mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Although each individual experiences a wide array of symptoms during pregnancy – from morning sickness and insomnia to low back pain and swollen feet – there is one recommendation that almost all healthcare providers agree on for pregnancy and birth preparation . . . Prenatal Yoga!
Even though Prenatal Yoga is best known for its physical benefits, it’s also a powerful and effective way to prepare for the mental and emotional aspects of labor and delivery. Ultimately, the benefits of Prenatal Yoga are vast and far-reaching.
The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Help Train You for the “Marathon” of Childbirth
Childbirth is the mother of all marathons. No one would run a marathon without a proper training plan. Labor and delivery should be looked at similarly.
Labor and delivery is the marathon you want to train for to have the best possible outcome – an empowering birth experience.
Birth transforms moms in more ways than can be described and is a unique experience for each person.
Many factors that go into the way a mother will perceive her experience: the environment, the people, and the way the mother is treated and listened to all play important roles.
Childbirth is the mother of all marathons.
Additionally, the fears, anxieties, and mindset around childbirth will have a major impact on the way it plays out.
Exploring fears (and letting go of them), releasing anxiety, and having a positive mindset are some of the best tools a mom can equip herself with to have the most empowering delivery possible.
Prenatal Yoga is an excellent way to train and prepare for all aspects of birth.
What Are the Physical Benefits of Prenatal Yoga?
Prenatal Yoga offers a plethora of physical benefits.
1. Relieves Tightness and Increases Strength and Mobility
Prenatal Yoga at any stage in pregnancy is a wonderful way to relieve tightness, as well as increase both strength and mobility.
Although physical activity may not be at the top of a to-do list, keeping the body moving throughout every trimester is important. Even five to 10 minutes of a handful of poses a day can provide a world of relief.
2. Brings Awareness to the Pelvic Floor
Many Prenatal Yoga classes incorporate learning to relax and strengthen the pelvic floor.
Understanding how to connect with the pelvic floor by drawing it in and up on the exhale and relaxing the pelvic floor on the inhale can shorten the second stage of labor and reduce severe perineal trauma.
3. Prepares Expecting Mothers for Labor
Prenatal Yoga can even reduce the need to be induced and decrease the duration of labor.
What Are the Mental Benefits of Prenatal Yoga?
Prenatal Yoga helps to provide mental preparation for labor and childbirth.
1. Provides a Safe Space for Exploration
It’s an excellent practice space to explore the intensity and challenges of labor and delivery. It’s a space to get to know your body and learn to link movement with breath (which is super important during labor).
2. Offers Relaxation and Challenge
Although many people think Prenatal Yoga is just stretching and relaxing, that’s often not the case. Prenatal Yoga can be challenging and intense, yet safe for any stage of pregnancy.
3. Teaches You to Persevere Through Challenge
It’s a space to observe where your mind goes when your body is physically challenged, and explore using mantras (or phrases) to get yourself through those hard moments.
What Are the Emotional Benefits of Prenatal Yoga?
Prenatal Yoga also offers a wide variety of emotional benefits too.
The practice helps to make practitioners feel empowered, strong, and trusting of their body’s ability to go through the process.
3. Focuses on the Breath
It teaches practitioners to learn to breathe through times of intensity and soften any tension.
It also helps practitioners to understand which breathing techniques to use at specific times of labor.
4. Promotes Presence
Practicing invites practitioners to surrender into the present moment.
Try These 5 Yoga Poses to Reap All the Benefits of Prenatal Yoga:
These poses encourage the baby into the optimal position for delivery (occiput anterior position).
Let’s try it:
- Bring your wrists under your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips on all fours
- Inhale into Cow Pose, floating your heart through, subtly dropping your belly, and allowing your tailbone to gently curl up
- Exhale to tuck your tailbone, snuggle your baby toward your spine, and tuck your chin
- Do four to eight repetitions and move slowly as you match the length of the movement with the length of your breath
2. Goddess Pose
The intensity of this pose requires focused attention and steady breathing. Goddess Pose is one of the best poses to practice relaxing in times of tension.
Let’s try it:
- From standing, bring your legs into a wide stance and turn your toes out slightly
- Inhale as you bring your arms up into a cactus position
- Exhale to bend your knees, pointing them in the same direction as your toes
- Lower your hips into a squat
- Hold for four to eight slow and steady breaths
3. Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is an excellent posture to release your lower back and surrender into relaxation.
Let’s try it:
- From all fours, bring your knees wide apart and your big toes to touch
- Release your hips to your heels and rest your torso toward the floor
- Stack your fists to lay your head on to allow more room for your belly
- Hold for four to eight breaths and release any doubts on each exhale
Build some strength and heat with this Pilates-inspired movement.
Let’s try it:
- Lay down on your side, support your head with your hand, and bring your thighs to a 45-degree angle
- Keep your feet together and bring your top knee away from your bottom knee
- Repeat 10 to 12 times and then move onto the other side
5. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This is an excellent pose to relax, release, and let go (which is an important part of birth preparation).
Let’s try it:
- It’s recommended to practice Savasana lying on your left side during pregnancy, so lay on your left side
- Place a pillow between bent knees and support your head with a thin pillow or blanket (essentially, get as comfortable as possible)
- Let everything be exactly as it is, without judgement, for eight to 10 minutes
The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Are Far-Reaching for the Birthing Process
No matter what ends up happening during the birthing process, it will be a life-changing experience. Gathering all the tools and tips and feeling as empowered as possible gives moms the best chance to have the most positive experience possible.
In addition to birth preparation, Prenatal Yoga classes are also a great way to connect with other expecting moms.
Discussing fears, concerns, and anxieties with other women can provide immense support. Leaning on a community of mothers, especially the ones who have been through it before, can be very nourishing.
Although birth is an active process, it’s equally a deep surrender.
No matter how much someone plans, prepares, and trains for labor, there is only so much that can be controlled. Although birth is an active process, it’s equally a deep surrender.
All you can do is what you can do. Take birth prep classes, do Prenatal Yoga regularly, journal or discuss fears with a therapist, and find a primary healthcare practitioner (midwife, MD, or OBGYN) that you feel comfortable with and supported by.
And then, let go and surrender to the process. Trust that it will unfold exactly as it’s supposed to.
Ready to Reap the Benefits of Prenatal Yoga?
With Jess Rose
11 Classes | All Levels