The moment I found out I was pregnant and had it confirmed by doctors, I knew I wanted to get involved in some prenatal yoga classes. I used to do yoga throughout high school and was beginning to get back into it with my sister, Hannah before we moved so I was eager to get started again. Not only was I wanting to join a prenatal yoga class for the health benefits, I also wanted to find other pregnant women that I could connect with. It was hard enough being in a brand new place, but being new to an area and being pregnant made it feel next to impossible to meet people. Not to mention, I just wasn’t handling pregnant life very well either at the time. I was desperately needing something to get me out of the house and focusing on my health and wellbeing. So I joined a prenatal yoga class in my area and instantly fell in love. It’s been one of the best things I could possibly do for my health, especially while pregnant. Here’s why all expectant mothers should join a prenatal yoga class at some point during their pregnancy.
1. It prepares you for labor and delivery.
I had no idea how beneficial prenatal yoga would be in terms of preparing me for labor and delivery. Being that I’m only 18 weeks along (officially five months, which is CRAZY to me), I just haven’t given labor a whole lot of thought quite yet. Partly because that step in this process scares the crap out of me and partly because it’s still months away. But half the stretches and poses we do in my yoga class are positions specifically designed to improve flexibility in your hips and the lower half of your body. It also teaches you how to relax and build the muscles needed for delivery, making labor a bit “easier”. Lastly, it teaches you helpful breathing techniques that can be used to calm yourself during delivery and handle the pain in a more effective manner.
Update: This really did help a lot in labor! It’s insane how much leg strength is needed during labor. I was so incredibly thankful to have built up the muscles in my legs and even in my abdomen. I’m sure the breathing techniques would have bene helpful as well, but I unfortunately had back labor and nothing helps when you have back labor. That’s a whole other ballgame than regular labor.
2. It improves your flexibility.
I thought I wasn’t too bad on flexibility until I got into this class. There were women in there who were 9 months pregnant and five times more flexible than me. It was insane! But man do I feel better and more stretched out after a good yoga class. I try to do the classes in the morning as well so it’s a good start to my day and stretches do an excellent job of waking me up so I’m ready for the day ahead of me. And by increasing your flexibility, you’re warming up your muscles which can reduce the chances of tearing a muscle during your day.
3. It improves your strength.
It’s crazy how much muscle you can build from yoga. As calming as it is, it’s still a work out and prenatal yoga classes target all the right muscle groups that you’ll be using during labor and delivery. Your thighs being a big one. I actually had no idea how many muscles were required for labor, but apparently it takes a lot of muscle strength. Even as someone who works out five days a week, my legs were killing me after my first day in prenatal yoga. So these classes are essential to preparing your muscles for what’s to come.
4. It gives you a deeper connection to your baby.
I’ve had a tough time feeling a connection to our baby these past five months. I think it’s due to the fact that I’m not showing much, have minimal pregnancy symptoms, and still don’t know the gender. So I’ve felt a bit disconnected. Just taking the time out of my week to take a prenatal yoga class, reminds me that I’m pregnant and gives me that undivided one-on-one time with our baby. These classes create a bond that I can’t really explain unless you’ve been pregnant as well. But it’s that one time during the week where I feel the most connected to our baby. I’m even finding myself touching my stomach more and more in the last few weeks as well, looking for that connection. So if you’re having a tough time making the connection with your baby then taking a prenatal yoga class could help you a ton!
5. It allows you to connect with other expectant mothers.
When you become pregnant, it can be really easy to feel disconnected from your non-mommy friends and family members. And that’s totally normal! A prenatal yoga class will allow you to meet new people. And to make it better, they’re people who are on the same page in life that I’m on. So it gives us more to talk about, allowing you to connect in a way you’re just not able to connect with your non-parent friends. It’s so helpful to have people in your life who know what you’re going through and are able to offer advice and helpful tips based on first-hand experience. Sometimes you just need someone who understands.
6. It both keeps you and baby healthy.
Living a healthy lifestyle is already important, but when you’re carrying another human life, it becomes almost crucial. Having healthy habits greatly increases your chances at having a healthy baby as well which is why many doctors suggest yoga classes along with light to moderate work outs as well. Participating in a prenatal yoga class regularly has the potential to reduce the chances of pre-term labor and/or delivering a low-birthweight baby (*this is based on a study conducted in India and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine). For some mothers, the chances of going into pre-term labor is much higher so why to do everything you can to reduce those odds?
7. It reduces stress and anxiety.
Working out does wonders for your mental health. While it can be challenging to motivate yourself to go to the gym or attend a class when you have anxiety and other mental health issues, it really is so beneficial for you. Yoga is a full-blown workout, but it’s calming at the same time. It gets you in tune with your body as well as your mind and does a great job at focusing your thoughts elsewhere and clearing your mind. After a stressful week or a challenging day, yoga can be one of the best ways to re-center yourself so that you can tackle the rest of your day or week without breaking down. Plus, it’s not good for the baby to live a live full of stress either. So this helps both you and baby have a happy and healthy nine months.
8. It can help with common pregnancy symptoms.
Yoga is already known for helping with common aches and pains that people experience in their everyday life. Prenatal yoga does the same thing in regards to common pregnancy symptoms. A big one being back pain. So many expectant mothers experience back pain during their pregnancies and prenatal yoga can help relieve that pain and tension. In addition to helping with lower back pain, it can also assist in decreasing headaches, shortness of breath, nausea, and so many other symptoms you may be experiencing. So if you’re having a rough day, symptom-wise than a class may be just what you need.
Did you (or do you plan to) do prenatal yoga during your pregnancy?