4 Surprising ways prenatal yoga will help prepare you to birth like a Goddess, even if you’re terrified of labor
Listen to me mother. Even if you are terrified of labor, even if you have a low pain tolerance, even if you haven’t had time to take all the birth classes, even if your mom had an awful birth experience and your sister says you are crazy for wanting the birth you want, you can do it. Yes YOU can.
We have all seen the pictures of the women who look incredible as they are pushing out their babies. Fulfilled and shining, full of accomplishment and pride as they hold their baby for the first time. Even covered in sweat and practically naked, the feeling of achievement radiates from these women
This is how it should be.
There is no other time in a woman’s life than when she is delivering her baby that she has such high levels of oxytocin, the love drug, flowing through her body.
Yes you can do it.
And you can do it like the magnificent Goddess that you are.
But you must prepare.
One of the BEST ways to prepare is by engaging in a practice of prenatal yoga.
Yes! Yoga is among one of the best exercises to do while pregnant!
This is what the science says:
one study found that practicing prenatal yoga improves birth weight, and decreases preterm laborwith no increased complications.
Another study found that moms who practiced prenatal yoga experienced an approximately a two-and-a-half 2 ½ hours shorter first stage of labor then the “non-yoga” control group.
In yet another study it was found that compared to the control group, women who began practicing yoga during their pregnancy (as in they had not practiced yoga before their pregnancy, though they may have participated in other exercises) experienced significantly lower lower levels of pain intensity. In this study, women were asked to report their pain levels at 3 times during birth. In all the 3 times, the yoga group reported significantly less pain than the non yoga group.This study also reported that the women who practiced yoga were less likely to be induced and had a lower percentage of c-sections.
Your probably thinking about this time great, I want a shorter labor, to feel more confident, less pain, and increase my likelihood of good outcomes for my birth.
But, how does yoga really help will all these things?
4 Surprising ways prenatal yoga will help you birth like a Goddess.
The benefits of yoga are far reaching. Not only will yoga give you a solid foundation of movement and exercise, but a good yoga class will help you unify your body and breath and tame your thoughts as well.
Often, we think of yoga as a merely physical exercises.
Yoga literally means union of the heart and mind.
It was originally developed as a way to quiet the mind so one could sit in meditation and peace and be open to receive inspiration. It’s purposes are much deeper than strengthening only the body.
According to YogaFit, the4 elements of yoga are: breath, feeling, listening to the body, and letting go of judgment and expectation.
Do these seem to you like practices that would benefit you in birth?
I believe most childbirth educators will tell you they are some of the BEST things you can practice to improve your birth experience. And by practicing yoga, you can develop skills in these areas that will help you as you are birthing your child.
It is almost a guarantee that the journey into motherhood or life with an additional child will challenge you. Many women feel as different from their prior self after birth and a year as a mother as a caterpillar and a butterfly.
As you begin to let go of who you were and understand who you are in this new role, you will likely need these new skills of breath, feeling, listening and letting go.
Ina May Gaskin the mother of modern midwifery says about birth “let you monkey do it.”
By this she means that you cannot force or think your way into a good birth experience. In preparing for birth, you learn that after you do all you can to prepare, you must learn how to surrender to what is happening inside your body.
Observe if you want, but you cannot control it. You have to learn how to let your body do what it was designed to do. Birth is written in your DNA, not your head. Your main job is to get out of your head and allow your body to do it’s work.
Let’s observe how these qualities of prenatal yoga will help you birth in your power.
Breath helps you manage contractions, it keeps oxygen flowing to you and baby and allows your body to soften and open. It also helps you manage pain and not get lost or overwhelmed in a contraction.According to Evidence Based Birth, EEG studies on deep abominable breathing, or focused breathing alters your brainwaves in a positive way. It increases your relaxation response, decreases your stress hormones, decreases your blood pressure and increases your oxygen levels.
How incredible is this? By learning to control and maintain breath, you literally change everything else that is going on in your body!
Feeling is something you cannot avoid as contractions, or pressure waves surge through you and your emotional system is reaching new highs and lows. (You will never have more oxytocin, the love hormone, in your body as when you are birthing a baby.) You will be overwhelmed by the senses in your body, and yet, mesmerized by the power as well. You will have moments when you feel more powerful than you ever have before and times when you wonder if you will make it. All of this is normal, and part of birth.It is important to come to terms with and allow your feelings to flow, because fear and doubt in the birthing room can increase your pain and slow your labor. If you are overly fearful of birth, I highly recommend watching this video by legendary midwife Ina May Gaskin.
This is some of the best advice I was ever given about fear and birth.
“Get on with birthing – as fear arises let it come, feel it, accept it, and deal with it however you need to (be loud, be angry, be quiet, reach out for reassurance, shut yourself in the toilet, breathe, whatever). It will pass, and you will birth.” – Dr.Rachel Reed
I also love this summary by the Matrona of the holistic stages of birth because it not only describes what to expect to feel physically during birth, but what you will likely feel emotionally as well.
For women who have had to turn off, shut down or ignore their feelings since childhood, it is a big ask to expect us to be comfortable in and with the enornous feelings in the birthing experience. Practicing yoga makes space to observe, sit with and make space for feeling, accepting and being present.
Listening to your body – you will be called to move, rest, moan, eat, not eat, and do many things while you are laboring. Being in tune with your needs and able to communicate them will make your experience better. In fact, if you wait to push until your body tells you to, you are much less likely to tear. There is no need for anyone to count how long you should push or anything like that if you and your care provider are listening to your body.Listening to your body is a skill you practice often in yoga. Many people believe that yoga is about getting into a new pose or becoming more flexible and these are things that often result from a yoga practice, but the real magic of yoga is in the discovery of the limits and capabilities of your body.
In pregnancy, you body will be changing daily. In birth, it will be changing in enormous ways in a short time. There is a skill involved in learning to listen to and accept the boundaries of what your body can and can’t do. In yoga, you will have to opportunity to knock on new doors of possibility and see if they open. Sometimes you will see that they will open and you walk through into a new pose or stretch with joy and ease, others you will find that you need to wait, strengthen where you are and then move forward.
You will need this skill in birth. As you labor, you will need to find ways to cope with contractions and process what is happening. By already having a loving and communicative relationship with your body, you will be more able to listen to what you body needs as you labor.
I personally found that my contractions led me through my second labor. As I felt the pain and intensity of contractions shift, I also felt the need to move, get on all fours, sink into certain movements.
All of these things ended up being things that could help baby move into position and through my birth canal.
Hazel was 10 lbs. Yet, when I was pushing, I felt that if I pushed in the right way, with the right intensity, it perfectly counteracted the pain of the contraction. Yes it was hard work, but not near as painful as I would expect birthing a large baby to be.
Letting of judgement and expectation – you honestly can not predict how your birth is going to unfold. While you can prepare and sometimes nudge things one way or another, some things will be out of your hands. That is okay. That is where trust comes in. You can never fail on your childbirth journey. All birth is birth, c-section, medicated, unmedicated, every path will have its challenges, struggles and ultimate triumphs. It will be your job to walk your unique journey and find a way to embrace the experience that you have. Knowing and preparing for the birth you want, empowers you to accept the birth you experience. When you know you did everything you could, it becomes easy to let go of judgment and expectation.
These four elements of yoga take you past simply managing your weight or exercising into the link of mind body and spirit. The skills you develop in each area will aid you as you birth your baby. It is because of this that yoga is being incorporated into more and more birth classes.
MTRNL is the only online yoga studio where you can meet live with a teacher. This means you have expert teachers helping you as you move differently and have new aches pains and questions week by week. If you want to use the camera on your computer, the teacher can even help you adjust to the best version of a pose, just like in a live class.
This studios main focus is helping pregnant mamas. They are experts. There are hundreds of classes you can jump into anytime, not just one or two prerecorded classes.
The classes are challenging while remaining safe. Because the founder of MTRNL has a deep knowledge of physiology and the unique changes of the pregnant woman, these classes can both be deeply challenging and allow you to grow in your physical and mental strength as well as protecting and stregthening areas where you are more at risk during pregnancy, such as your pelvic floor and not endangering your abdomen from splitting.
This is the only online prenatal studio of it’s kind. There is no competition.
How many classes are you going to do in your free week?
You may also enjoy finding prenatal yoga that fits schedule and budget.
If you are the mom who wants to delve deep into your emotional as well as physical preparation and connect with your divine nature and unshakable strength during birth, make sure to grab a copy of my book Divine Birth as well.