The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga For Pregnant Women

Whether you are a regular or have started after the first ultrasound, practicing yoga when you are pregnant is very useful for your health and prepares you for the efforts that await you. It will allow you to better live your pregnancy on a daily basis. But before you start, it is important to do your research.

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about prenatal yoga and specifically about the benefits of prenatal yoga for pregnant women.

What type of yoga can a pregnant woman practice?

Prenatal yoga is perfect for pregnant women: it acts on different levels, helping the future mother to experience her pregnancy as peacefully as possible, and to approach childbirth without fear. It works both physically and psychologically.

Please note: while most pregnant women can practice prenatal yoga, there are some contraindications. For example,  yoga is not recommended:

  • In the event of a difficult or  high-risk pregnancy;
  • If there is a history of miscarriages ;
  • In case of hypertension or significant circulation or heart problems;
  • In any case where exercise poses a risk to the unborn baby;
  • Bikram yoga (or hot yoga) should be avoided during pregnancy.

What is Prenatal Yoga?

Prenatal yoga is a body and breathing work with postures and positions specially adapted for pregnant women. 

The goal of yoga for pregnant women: is to relax and control the functioning of the diaphragm, the abdominal belt, and the perineum. In practice, it is a question of carrying out breathing exercises or “pranayama” to become fully aware of your breath. Breathing is really important during pregnancy to better oxygenate the baby and on the day of delivery to support contractions and promote expulsion.

The mother-to-be takes advantage of these classes on the day of delivery because she has deep and calm breathing at the time of dilation, and very intense exhalations at the time of pushes. 

Benefits of prenatal yoga: why do it during pregnancy?

Prenatal yoga acts on both physical and psychological well-being: 

  • On physical well-being: it offers postures taken from yoga, but specifically adapted to the problem of pregnant women to soothe pain in the lower back, and sciatic nerve, improve the elasticity of the perineum … On the other hand, there is no work done on the abdominals, of course;
  • On psychological well-being: it allows the pregnant woman to reconnect with herself, with her feelings, with her baby, to take advantage of a moment that does her good because the breathing exercises bring relaxation and move away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

More generally, prenatal yoga is a gentle sport excellent for:

  • Fill up on energy ;
  • Limit nausea, heavy legs, and back pain ;
  • Strengthen certain muscles that you will need to give birth;
  • Work on flexibility and balance ;
  • Reduce stress and reconnect your body to your mind.

Breathing exercises also help prepare you for childbirth. Above all, remember to follow your instincts and never force yourself.

Prenatal yoga: A good preparation for childbirth

Practiced every week, prenatal yoga prepares the body for childbirth by promoting good pelvic mobility, muscle tone, and better breathing management during working hours, in addition to childbirth preparation sessions.

Thanks to prenatal yoga, the future mother is also closer to the sensations of her body. She also worked on her self-confidence, which will help her on the day of delivery to believe in her abilities and to approach this physical ‘marathon’ more serenely. She will also see benefits in terms of fatigue postpartum, with faster recovery.

Prenatal yoga: some postures and positions to adopt

To relieve your little ailments, you will do a series of exercises, accompanied by a short anatomical course. On the program: stretching, postures, or ” asanas “, to be tested, arranged, and adapted according to your morphology, and the position of the baby. You will feel lighter, and more flexible despite the weight of the belly. It’s not about becoming an acrobat, but about achieving well-being, for example, by stretching your spine, and tilting your pelvis.

Here are some poses to remember: 

  • The posture of the cow: seated, the legs crossed one on the other, one stretches upwards;
  • tree pose(carried out with a wall close at hand) helps to work on the balance that can be disturbed in pregnant women, the weight of the uterus pulling forwards. Standing, we lean on the left leg, bend the right leg, and position our foot at the level of the ankle, the calf, or the top of the thigh;
  • The posture of the cat-cow: on all fours, we make the hollow back, the round back, without insisting on the digging but rather to seek the stretch.

Always with the aim of sparing your body, the midwife will teach you the right reflexes to get up, sit down, and bend down. Your body weight is changing. The center of gravity is modified, and it is not always easy to live daily without suffering from it. For this, we often start with the analysis of bad movements: for example, you should not lean forward to lower yourself to the ground, you risk falling. Learn to bend your legs, it’s less painful and less dangerous.

Midwife, doctor… Who can give prenatal yoga classes?

Many yoga classes are taught by doctors,  midwives,  or people from the medical community. However, this is not an obligation: there are training courses in prenatal yoga, intended for people from the early childhood environment, in connection with maternity, or yoga teachers who want to specialize… All of this is to ensure that the teacher is well-trained in prenatal yoga and that he or she is aware of the practices of use. 

Opt for a teacher who is used to practicing with pregnant women because some positions are not suitable for pregnancy.

Do not hesitate to ask your midwife, osteopath, or even your friends to find the teacher you like!

Prenatal yoga, practical information

For each prenatal yoga session, bring loose clothes that you are comfortable in. The activity is practiced in socks. Remember to have a small snack before you start. The future dad can attend the sessions, it will then be a matter of teamwork. 

Seven childbirth preparation sessions are reimbursed by Social Security, provided that they are given by a doctor or a midwife. Their duration varies from 45 to 90 minutes. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll master the art of breathing, essential for the day of delivery.

doctor’s appointment to check that you can practice pregnancy safely is essential.

Prenatal Yoga FAQs.

When can moms-to-be start prenatal yoga classes?

If you are already a proven yogi, you can continue your traditional yoga classes until the end of the first trimester. Otherwise, you can start in the first trimester, but only if you have a normal pregnancy and no risk or history of miscarriage. 

Some teachers prefer to play it safe and do not accept pregnant women during their first trimester.

Can we do prenatal yoga in the 9th month of pregnancy?

The mother-to-be can go to prenatal yoga classes until the end of the pregnancy. There is no real contraindication except, of course, in the event of bed rest.

Although a medical certificate of aptitude is not systematically requested, it is important to give the yoga teacher a short report of his last obstetrical appointment so that he can adapt to the positions as well as possible. For example, if the baby is already low, there will be no squat position.

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