“I was expecting to feel worn out and achy when I was pregnant but I was completely free of pain, slept well and had lots of energy,” says yoga teacher Tara Lee. “Aside from the first 12 weeks of exhaustion, I couldn’t believe how amazing I felt.”
Can a bit of downward dog really keep fatigue and soreness at bay over some of the most physically challenging months of your life? Tara Lee, and her thousands of devotees certainly think that, channelled the right way, this is exactly what pregnancy yoga can do.
Lee, a mother of two, has specialised in teaching pregnancy yoga for more than 10 years, and has helped many mothers-to-be, myself included, experience a positive pregnancy and birth through her regular classes and dvds.
Yoga, she says, helps you to prepare psychologically for the birth and can give you more confidence: when you get a full on contraction, you can either freak out and your body will tense up, so you feel more pain – or stay calm and focus on your breathing. “Some women don’t ever really feel pregnant and get a shock when labour comes on,” she says.
Yoga can help balance out the emotions, make you feel more levelled
It can also help you to connect with you baby and listen to your body. “With all the extra fluids pregnant women are carrying, generally moving in the right way can help avoid swollen hands, legs and feet,” she says. “For mood, when feelings are much more volatile during pregnancy, yoga can help balance out the emotions, make you feel more levelled.
“Plus the sense of community in a yoga class helps too – mums-to-be often tell me they feel supported from hearing from others with similar issues to themselves.”
Far from being evangelical about the ‘right’ way to experience pregnancy and get through labour, Lee takes a more open-minded and pragmatic approach. “It’s not about the event itself, it is completely about your perspective. Prepare yourself during pregnancy as much as you can, but do whatever you want to do for your labour – whether you have an epidural, or want to try for a pain-relief free birth – it’s not about bowing to pressure,” she says.
“You can have an incredible c-section or a traumatic labour – it is different for everyone.”
Tara’s tips for labour
Rock backwards and forwards and lean over a birthing ball, chair or bed.
Use your hands as a pillow to rest your head against the wall, stand, sway the hips from side to side and gently rotate hips each way.
SECOND STAGE LABOUR
Perform figure-of-eights on your hands and knees and hip circles to get your baby into a good position for the birth;
Keep active in the labour, changing your position from kneeling, rocking, to squatting, to being on all fours. Practice the golden thread breathing technique.
Rest in or between contractions: come into the child’s pose position which helps to restore, rebalance and raise your energy levels and makes you feel as close to the earth as possible.
(to chant or keep in mind)
“Stay calm, stay strong”
“I trust my body to know what to do”
“I am the one who chooses how to use my energy”
“I an going to meet my baby. I’m going to meet my baby”.