Not so long ago, mothers-to-be shied away from exercising during pregnancy, afraid to jeopardize their baby’s health and wellbeing through strenuous activity. Not anymore. Women around the world are gradually waking up to the importance of prenatal fitness- including prenatal yoga and Lamaze. Exercising during pregnancy doesn’t just help manage weight gain, but can also improve your health by reducing backaches and bloating. It boosts your mood through the release of feel-good endorphins and reduces the risk of gestational diabetes.
Closer to home, several Indian mothers-to-be are taking up prenatal fitness classes, with more emphasis on prenatal yoga. A multifaceted approach to exercise, prenatal yoga combines stretching, with mental centering and focused breathing. This type of yoga is less strenuous and makes use of several props to support your body in poses. Prenatal yoga also avoids certain poses that involve lying on your back or twisting deeply to avoid putting pressure on your organs and major blood vessels. It helps your body in various ways:
Prenatal yoga strengthens and tones important muscle groups
Prenatal yoga focuses on the pelvic floor, hip and abdominal core muscles to help women prepare for the birthing process. This also helps with recovery, post-delivery and can soothe aches and pains throughout the pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga helps you connect to your unborn baby
Prenatal yoga involves mindful exercise, encouraging you to visualize your baby and connect with it through exercise. Even the act of going to a prenatal class functions as a reminder to take time and attention off your other chores, and focus on your baby.
Prenatal yoga classes help relieve stress
In addition to relaxing poses, you’ll also have the opportunity to connect with other like-minded mothers-to-be. From sharing tips and information to emotional support, these friendships can help alleviate some of the stress of pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga helps in healthier pregnancies
A 2005 study by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine surveyed 335 Indian expectant mothers. They found that women who had regularly practiced yoga during pregnancy were less likely to suffer preterm labour or deliver low birthweight babies.
Prenatal yoga is a great extension to your existing exercise routine once you have conceived. It also makes a good starting point if you have never exercised before and want to adopt a healthier lifestyle once the baby arrives. Expect your yoga instructor to know which poses to avoid. Also, start slow and always exercise under the supervision of a qualified yoga instructor, stopping immediately if you feel any kind of stress or experience dizziness and nausea.
Lamaze for stress-free pregnancy
Also known as the psychoprophylactic method, Lamaze was popularized by the French obstetrician Dr. Fernand Lamaze in the 1940s. The doctor based his technique on the observations he had made in the Soviet Union, to offer expectant mothers an alternative to medical intervention during childbirth. Today, Lamaze practitioners focus on increasing mothers’ confidence in their ability to give birth, their ability to cope with pain in ways that promote comfort, and to learn relaxation, movement and massage techniques. They also educate women to become aware of when medical intervention or pain relief medication is required so that they can make educated choices about their treatment.
Modern Lamaze courses involve at least twelve hours of instruction, and typically begin during the seventh month of pregnancy. Women are coached in various aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, including labour, being active and participative during the birthing process,and breathing techniques for labour. It also includes natural strategies such as massage, and walking and hydrotherapy to relieve labour pains. Mothers are also coached on communicating with the other parent and the healthcare team, to ensure that the mother’s needs are met. Lastly mothers are also taught breastfeeding and early interactions with the baby.