“So, what can I do during pregnancy?”
We get this question a lot and it honestly varies on the client. A soccer player can be cleared for many soccer drills and noncontact movements throughout the pregnancy, but it wouldn’t be recommended for clients to suddenly pick up intense soccer training for the first time during their pregnancy. The same applies to clients who run. We wouldn’t throw an unseasoned runner straight into an intense sprint training if they barely run to begin with. The idea is to stay within your scope. That doesn’t mean you can’t try different things, but it’s important to be mindful, ease in, and learn the basics first.
Many moms to be are intimidated by starting a workout routine during their pregnancy and find comfort and self-efficacy by starting out with prenatal yoga. With some modifications, yoga can be both a mindful practice and a great form of exercise and flexibility for the pregnancy and beyond. Many prenatal yoga positions help prepare the body for childbirth and aid in the recovery process. Just like regular yoga, prenatal yoga is great for improving sleep and aiding in anxiety reduction. Aside from all the physical benefits, yoga also gets you out of the house and in touch with other moms to be. This could be the first step in making some much-needed postpartum connections.
During prenatal yoga you’ll be encouraged to participate in mindfulness activities such as focusing on your breathing. Some prenatal yoga instructors help you identify which breathing techniques are useful for dealing with contractions. Prenatal yoga is always a great place to create your own mantra and practice using it. Mantras can be great for the delivery process in which you might need a boost from yourself. Mantras are a positive and supportive phrase that is personal to you, that when said to oneself, increases motivation and drive. Some mantras are, “I am capable, and I am strong. I can do this.”.
During the first trimester, many normal yoga positions are still safe for mom and baby. As the pregnancy continues there are some basic guidelines to follow. During the first trimester and beyond it’s important discontinue “sweat-out” yoga where the temperature is intentionally raised to a very high point. This can cause body temperature to rise too high, which research has shown to put women at risk for serious issues. On the same token, make sure to continue hydrating throughout the day. As your pregnancy progresses, make sure to avoid yoga poses that require you to lay on your stomach and back. Be mindful to avoid strong twisting movements that put pressure on your abdomen. It’s important to recognize that there’s no need to push yourself past your ability. Prenatal yoga is a time to set a base and slowly build on it.
Before starting a yoga plan, always consult with your doctor to make sure you don’t have any medical conditions that would prohibit you from participating.
Just like yoga, massage is another mindful exercise to help prepare you for childbirth and baby. Prenatal massage can be a great way not only to relax, but also help finetune the changes your body is making. As you progress through the months, you’ll notice certain muscles are sore, back muscles start to work overtime, and our core begins to change. Prenatal massage can help identify areas that might need more strengthening or relaxing.
Prenatal massage can often help reduce swelling, which often begins to become more prominent in the second and third trimester. Through massage, fluid buildup in the joints can be reduced. It can also help reduce sciatic pain, which is often caused by pressure starting in the lower back continuing through the back of the legs.
Besides the physical benefits, a massage is a great way to sneak a bit of “me time” in before things get a bit busier after baby.
Like other mindfulness exercises, massage is shown to decrease anxiety and symptoms of depression. This is important for moms that are more prone to perinatal mood issues. Along the same lines, studies have often shown that norepinephrine, cortisol, dopamine, and serotonin, are significantly altered when massage therapy is introduced to women’s prenatal care, which leads to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health’*.
Before getting a prenatal massage always consult with your doctor to confirm you don’t have any medical restrictions. Then, begin searching in your area for reputable and certified prenatal massage specialists. It’s important that the practitioner you go to is well versed in prenatal issues and understands the pregnant body.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, ‘a distinction should be made between therapeutic prenatal massage and perineal massage, the latter referring to the practice of manually stretching the tissues surrounding the birth canal to help reduce the risk of episiotomy or trauma associated with childbirth’.
Learn more about prenatal yoga by clicking below.