Reaching a state of physical and mental readiness for the rigors of childbirth is the primary motivation for most women who practice pregnancy yoga with us in our Wicklow studio.
Pregnancy and childbirth are wonderful experiences, but modern life has left us less prepared for them than we would ideally be. Our pregnancy yoga classes help you to address this by preparing you both mentally and physically for the experience.
Reducing stress has been proven to be greatly beneficial to both mother and baby throughout pregnancy and the birthing process. The deep relaxation techniques reduce stress and prepare us mentally, while the physical exercises get our bodies in shape for the big day.
There is a heavy emphasis on breathing techniques and relaxation. Our aim is to have you as ready for labour and childbirth as you can be, both physically and mentally.
You can sign up to our six week pregnancy yoga course anytime after 14 weeks. By practicing prenatal yoga with us you can be confident that you are giving both your baby and yourself an excellent boost towards a more comfortable and enjoyable pregnancy, labour and recovery.
Our pregnancy classes
Our prenatal yoga classes are designed specifically for the unique set of conditions that exist in our bodies during pregnancy.
10 benefits of yoga for pregnancy
Increased stamina and strength
Midwives are fond of announcing that giving birth is roughly equivalent to running a marathon (all 42k of it!). Yoga helps you to be prepared physically for the big day. Yoga also opens the door to the possibility of different birthing postures. Without yoga or a similar exercise squatting is out of the question for many women because we just don’t have the necessary strength and stamina. This has more to do with modern living (chairs and couches) than innate ability. However, with practice this can become a viable option where gravity works with you instead of against you.
The breathing exercises practiced in our pregnancy yoga class are a massive help when dealing with the labour process. The breathing exercises help to keep you relaxed while developing the ability, through practice, to exhale for the full length of a contraction. The combined focus on breathing and relaxation reduces anxiety and makes you more comfortable during the birth of your child.
Relaxation and breathing techniques help to release endorphins, natures natural painkillers. Regular exercise also releases endorphins. With prenatal yoga you get both. Yoga does not negate the possibility of using medicinal pain relief if you wish. Even with an epidural, practicing yoga beforehand can help you to sense contractions sufficiently to allow you to rely less on external cues. Increasingly, women are moving away from the epidural because it limits you to the bed (you can’t use your legs) and makes the actual delivery harder because of position (lying on your back means that the baby has to go against gravity turning upwards on exit due to the position of the tail bone). Many women who wish to give birth without an epidural find that yoga is of significant help with pain management either alone or with additional pain relief, which is why it is one of the things that midwive’s recommend for pregnant women.
Reduced anxiety / fear
Many women faced with a first delivery hold many anxieties connected with the birth. Friends and family love to tell horror stories! Practicing yoga specifically designed for pregnancy gives you the confidence that your body is well prepared for labour and the knowledge that both mentally and physically you are ready for this amazing experience.
Improved recovery time
The fitter you are, the more likely you are to return to your original shape and condition faster postpartum. With prenatal yoga, the exercises you practice are specifically aimed at the parts of your body you will be placing demands on during labour and birth. With a new baby you will want to be back in shape as quickly as possible.
Reduced instances of postpartum urinary and faecal incontinence
Pelvic floor exercises that will form part of your prenatal yoga practice help your pelvic floor to return to normal quickly after birth. This reduces instances of incontinence associated with weak flaccid pelvic floor muscles which have been stretched during the birth of your child. Pelvic floor exercises improve the blood flow to the area speeding up recovery time if you should have a tear or episiotomy during the birth. As a side note, perineal massage can reduce the chances of a tear or need for an episiotomy if this is your first birth.
Increased flexibility makes birthing easier
Hormones released during pregnancy soften your ligaments making your joints looser. While this is predominantly useful for your hips it affects your whole body which is why you may feel more clumsy than usual when pregnant. Pregnancy yoga works with mother nature by making you even more flexible. The more space you can create in your pelvis, the easier it is for your baby to pass through on it’s way to say hello to you for the first time. Yoga also brings tone and awareness to your body which can minimise those clumsy moments too!
Better posture (less back pain)
As you begin to show, your centre of balance changes as your uterus (and with it your belly) expands. This forward shift in weight places extra strain on your back. When combined with loosening joints due to hormonal releases it can all add up to a miserable time with back pain. Once again yoga can come to your rescue! Increased core strength as a result of yoga gives you the strength to hold a better posture which in turn reduces the chances of back pain turning your pregnancy into an ordeal instead of a beautiful experience. Postural exercises train your body to adopt a better posture automatically (like your fingers remember the keys when you learn to type).
A degree of swelling, particularly noticeable in the feet and ankles is normal in pregnancy. This edema (the medical speak for swelling due to fluid retention) is one of your bodys ways of making sure you have enough resources for baby. Somewhat surprisingly, drinking more fluids can actually reduce edema. Yoga helps out too by improving your circulation. Movement can help relieve discomfort and if you are sitting, raise your legs. Should you suffer from edema, it should be brought to the attention of your medical practitioner.
Bonding with your baby
The time spent practicing your prenatal yoga is time focused on you and your baby. This helps you to bond with your baby even before you first meet him or her. More than this, studies have suggested that a mothers mental state can pass to the baby through the placenta in the form of hormones. Thus, time spent in a relaxed and aware state is likely to have beneficial effects on your baby. By contrast, one study from Imperial College, London showed that maternal anxiety doubled the risk of hyperactivity in boys. The stress hormone cortisol has also been linked to lower IQ scores, increased anxiety in infants and impaired blood flow through uterine arteries.
Frequently asked questions about yoga during pregnancy
Can I start a pregnancy yoga class straight away?
It is not recommended to practice yoga during your first trimester. This is in case of the existence of high risk factors. For this reason we ask that you wait until your second trimester (preferably 14 weeks) before commencing our pregnancy yoga classes. We would also ask that you consult with your medical practitioner before you start.
Is yoga safe during pregnancy?
You should always consult with your medical practitioner before starting any form of exercise when pregnant. Every woman and every pregnancy is different. In general with a normal pregnancy our prenatal yoga classes are not just safe, but hugely beneficial.
Can I continue right up to the end of my pregnancy?
Should you experience discomfort at any time you should cease practice until you are given the go-ahead again by your medical practitioner. In general it is safe to continue your yoga practice right up to the birth of your child.
What can I expect in the class?
The physical elements are designed to prepare your body for the prolonged exertion of labour and childbirth, not to mention the physical demands of a newborn! The physical demands that we go through during childbirth require some level of fitness. The breathing exercises and relaxation techniques designed specifically to benefit your pregnancy, these elements allow for a smoother labour and birth process with reduced likelihood of medical intervention. This is as a result of lower stress levels and the natural pain relieving properties of the endorphins that are released when you enter a state of deep relaxation, particularly through long exhalations.
Should I try yoga on my first pregnancy?
Absolutely. In general a first pregnancy requires more preparation than it will for subsequent births. The changes your body will go through are not insignificant! With a subsequent pregnancy the body is more conditioned to the stretching that takes place. However, pregnancy yoga is still recommended in second or third or fourth pregnancies. Many women also find it very therapeutic to meet other women going through the same process at our classes. A first pregnancy can be a little scary sometimes and yoga is a great way of removing those fears while confident that you are doing something really positive to help you have the best experience possible.
Is pregnancy yoga suitable for beginners?
Very much so. Prenatal yoga is much gentler than a standard yoga class. It would be misleading to say that you will find it very easy initially, but there is a huge emphasis on safety and keeping within your current abilities. You will be surprised at how soon you notice improvements, particularly if you keep up your practice at home in between classes. Pregnancy yoga is often portrayed as a purely relaxing experience, but the reality is that you are getting your body ready for one of the most physically demanding roles it has ever played. That said, we do love our relaxation elements. It’s not bootcamp!
Can I start yoga in my third trimester?
By the time you reach your third trimester movement has become a little restricted. This makes starting a little more difficult. It is possible to start, but obviously it is better to start it in the second trimester, so that by the time you reach your third trimester you have attained some level of flexibility. If in doubt give us a call.
What do I need to bring to class?
Wicklow Yoga supply mats and accessories at our studio, but if you have your own mat please do bring it with you. You will need to wear comfortable clothing that allows ease of movement.
I feel very tired all the time, will yoga make that worse?
On the contrary, yoga should help you to keep your energy levels and alertness up. Initially it is not unusual to feel more tired as your body needs to adjust to the new exercise, but this is temporary and overall you should feel better than if you did no yoga.
I’m suffering from sciatica / backache / insomnia, will that affect my ability to practice yoga?
You should always get medical advice first. Once you get the go-ahead, you should find pregnancy yoga beneficial for all of the listed ailments.
How soon can I resume my yoga after the birth?
General advice is to wait 6 weeks before resuming any exercise postpartum. Come after you and your baby’s six week postnatal check up, (eight weeks for a caesarean -section) and let your GP know you are attending the classes.
Pregnancy yoga with Claire was really enjoyable and extremely beneficial during my pregnancy. The atmosphere in the class was very warm and welcoming and was a great opportunity to meet other expectant mums in the community. The yoga poses and relaxation techniques really helped me with the day to day aches and pains that go with being pregnant, and because this was my second pregnancy it gave me an hour to myself once a week on my hectic schedule. I would highly recommend Claire’s pregnancy yoga class to expectant mums.Ailish Sherry (Wicklow)