Yoga and Pregnancy: Increase Quality of Life During Pregnancy and After
- Written by Nancy Hoi Wong OTD, OTR/L, RYT200
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We are starting an exciting new yoga therapy program at Femina/Fusion Wellness PT. To celebrate, there will be a series of blog posts highlighting how yoga can mesh well with issues like pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic pain, and pregnancy.
Yoga and Pregnancy
Modified, gentle, and restorative yoga practices can be a fantastic addition to physical activity during pregnancy. Yoga can also give an opportunity for mamas to listen to their bodies, gain stamina and the courage needed for labor and motherhood. Whether you start practicing yoga after you get pregnant, or you already have a practice, yoga also helps you to consciously connect to the process of nature and your baby and prepare you for your birth.
With guidance, safe poses can be practiced during all three trimesters. Studies have found that a yoga practice during pregnancy can help improve health for both mothers and their newborn babies.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a movement practice that incorporates movement for strength and flexibility with breath work and mindfulness for reduction of stress and tension. Yoga is used therapeutically for a variety of immunological, neuromuscular, psychological, and pain conditions.
Yoga increases comfort during pregnancy and makes for shorter and less painful labor.
Recent studies indicate that yoga may be effective in improving pregnancy, labour, and birth outcomes for both mommy and baby.
A systematic review by Curtis et al (2012) suggests that yoga during pregnancy can lead to better outcomes for pregnancy, labor, and birth. Studies suggest that a regular yoga practice of at least 3 times a week (during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters) increased quality of life for yogis during pregnancy, including reduced stress levels, increased aspects of intimacy and interpersonal relations, and decreased pain. Participants also reported improved physical condition and psychological functioning. There have also been indications that a regular yoga practice during pregnancy may make labor less painful and shorter.
During Pregnancy: What is Safe?
It is very important to only practice yoga poses that are safe for each stage of pregnancy. A trained yoga teacher can help create a personalized routine for you that is custom tailored for your body and stage of life.
Yoga Therapy at Femina Physical Therapy
Make an appointment with a therapist at Femina Physical Therapy to receive one-on-one yoga training, including a customized yoga flow for you and your body.
Yoga therapy at Femina PT will include:
- A comprehensive intake evaluation
- One-on-one yoga instruction and hands-on adjustments based on your body
- A yoga program customized for you to practice at home to increase strength and flexibility where your body needs it
Here is a little preview of the types of poses that are safe during each trimester:
First Trimester (0 to 13 weeks)
Most experts advise against starting an active yoga practice (sun salutations, athletic poses) during this phase if you have never done yoga before. However, the most gentle restortative poses and yogic breathing can be safe, and can help with the nausea and fatigue without increasing the risk of miscarriage.
For those who have an existing strong yoga practice, modifications are still needed during this period. Do not practice certain backbends (wheel or upward-facing bow pose), inversions, twists, or jumps during the first trimester.
Second Trimester (14 to 28 weeks)
For most women, it is safe to start an active, modified yoga practice in the second trimester. A modified yoga practice designed for pregnancy can help the body gain strength and flexibility in the right places to prepare for carrying a growing baby, as well as making labor, delivery, and recovery easier.
Linking movement to breath will help decrease stress, while longer holds in strengthening positions build stamina, muscle tone, correct alignment, and increase joint mobility and stability.
Third Trimester (29 to 40 weeks)
Yoga postures for the third trimester concentrate on issues such as balance, reduction of low back pain, pelvic floor flexibility and strength, and stabilization of loose joints, including the sacroiliac (SI) joints. Breathing techniques will also be emphasized which can be used during labor and delivery.
Curtis, Aliza Weinrib, and Joel Katz, “Systematic Review of Yoga for Pregnant Women: Current Status and Future Directions,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 715942, 13 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/715942. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/715942/
Felder, L. “Prenatal Yoga Poses For Each Trimester,” Yoga Joural website. https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/yoga-for-moms-to-be
**This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.**