Pregnancy is a condition in which women undergo physiological changes and stress which is accompanied by unique physical and psychological demands. It is essential to manage the various physical, emotional, mental, and pain states that arise throughout the stages of pregnancy and labour. The well being and quality of life of the mother is important for optimal pregnancy outcomes. Self-soothing techniques and relaxation are particularly important in this transitional and meaningful time.
Prenatal maternal stress and anxiety could be risk factors for potential negative consequences for children later on in life. It could lead to the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or lowered performance on aspects of executive function.
Therefore, it is essential to regulate maternal stress and provide coping strategies to expecting mothers to cope with the stress and changes that occur during pregnancy and increase the quality of life and to maximize infant health and development.
Physical exercise can help you overcome stress and other associated conditions or symptoms accompanying pregnancy, namely edema, gestational hypertension or diabetes, mood instability, musculoskeletal discomfort, aches, and weight gain. Engaging in physical exercise during pregnancy was earlier regarded as a risky behaviour, however with times it is increasingly being recognized as safe and is encouraged in routine prenatal care.
Benefits of prenatal yoga -
Similar to rest of the childbirth-preparation classes, prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. Studies have suggested that prenatal yoga is safe and can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies.
Prenatal yoga -
- improves sleep
- reduces stress and anxiety
- increases strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth
- decreases lower back pain, nausea, headaches and shortness of breath
Prenatal yoga can also make you meet and bond with other pregnant women and prepare for the stress of being a new parent.
What prenatal yoga class usually involves -
- Breathing - You'll be made to focus on breathing in and out slowly and deeply through the nose. Prenatal yoga breathing techniques might help you reduce shortness of breath during pregnancy and work through contractions during labor.
- Gentle stretching - You'll be encouraged to gently move different areas of your body, like your neck and arms, to their full range of motion.
- Postures - You’ll be made to move your body into different positions while standing, sitting or lying on the ground which will help develop your strength, flexibility and balance. Props such as blankets, cushions and belts are sometimes used to provide support and comfort.
- Cool down and relaxation - At the end of each class, you'll relax your muscles and restore your resting heart rate and breathing rhythm. You may be asked to listen to your own breathing, pay close attention to sensations, thoughts and emotions, or repeat a mantra or words to bring about a state of self-awareness and inner calm.
Things to keep in mind -
You should moderate your yoga routine to about 30 minutes never push yourself beyond that. Yoga is meant to relax you, so there is no reason to push yourself, which is in any case not safe or healthy for pregnant women.
While there are many benefits to yoga, it is essential to note that not all yoga is safe for pregnant women. For Example, yoga, such as Bikram, and other forms of yoga that require a hot environment, are unsafe for women who are expecting. Doing these hot forms of yoga can cause hyperthermia.
Furthermore, poses in which you lie flat on your back or require a lot of abdominal stretching, are also not suitable for pregnant women.
Also, women who are at risk of premature labor are not recommended to practice prenatal yoga. It is important you look for classes taught by a certified prenatal yoga instructor, as they are familiar with the poses that should be avoided and which ones should be focused on. Always consult your doctor before starting prenatal yoga and leave no room for any mishap.