featuring Preggo Leggings
It’s the beginning of my third trimester of pregnancy, and it’s starting to dawn on me that this baby’s debut is right around the corner! Besides getting ready with car seats, nursery gear, and all the material essentials, I am working to get ready mentally and physically for the craziest workout of my life. One common thread in various birthing techniques (Bradley method, Hypnobirthing, Birthing from Within), along with western and eastern medicine, is the importance of strengthening the lower body and pelvic floor muscles, stretching to avoid injury, and developing relaxation abilities to gracefully navigate the wild ride that is labor and delivery.
In this post, I will cover a few of the poses that I think are awesome for preparing you to bring your little one into the world – and bounce back quickly afterwards!
For the most comfortable practice, gather a mat, blanket, block and bolster (I love the gear from Manduka Yoga.) and dress in clothes that allow you to easily move and breathe. These maternity leggings from Preggo Leggings have been a lifesaver as my belly grows bigger and bigger – they are super stretchy and come all the way up to bra line in the back, which I love. Have some water nearby, and create a calm environment: turn off the tv and your cell phone ringer, put on some chill music, and dim the lights – or find an outdoor space like the beach or a park which you find relaxing and comfortable for practice. Make sure to consult with your doc before any new exercise practice.
Best Prenatal Yoga Poses for Labor and Birth
Ready to flow? Here are some of the best prenatal yoga poses for a powerful yet peaceful labor and birth process.
Seated Meditation ~ Root Connection
Sit comfortably with good posture. Consciously connect with baby and direct your awareness and breath to little one – you can place hands on your knees or on your belly. Awaken and activate pelvic floor by linking your breath with a root lock – engaging the muscles that start/stop the flow of pee, also known as kegels. Aim for 100 a day to start, and build up to 300 by third trimester! This will help ensure that everything is fit and flexible for vaginal delivery, and also prevent the whole pee-when-you-sneeze phenomenon that shows up during pregnancy (but can last long after – do the kegels!)
Place both hands on your belly. Breathe in deeply through the nose and feel the expansion and contraction of abdomen and ribcage. Exhale through the nose and feel the belly fall. Create a relaxation focus by extending your exhalation longer than inhalation. Keep your eyes closed or a soft gaze while you breath. Focus on the breath for 3-5 minutes.
Cat/Cow (not pictured)
This gentle spinal warm up is super important for maintaining core strength and activating the transverse abdominals – also, it may feel delicious in first trimester to stretch the upper belly. Start on all fours with shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Inhale, drop the belly and lift the gaze. Exhale, round your spine and lift the back of your heart to the sky. Flow through these two poses with the breath for 6 – 10 breath cycles.
Low Lunge or Crescent Lunge
Stretch the hip flexors and begin to open the chest and shoulders with this pose. You can keep the back knee down for balance or tuck the toes and engage it for more challenge. Hands can rest comfortably on the belly, or reach your heart and fingertips for the sky!
Equal Standing Prayer Pose
Use this simple standing pose to focus on balance, posture, and length in the spine. Practice some standing pelvic tilts to draw the tailbone down and under, reducing the sway back of pregnancy. Inhale and push your butt out, bending the knees slightly. Exhale, draw the low belly forward and tailbone down as you straighten the legs.
Strong legs, butt, and pelvic floor are all essential for delivery! Make your warrior 2 pose dynamic by straightening the legs and reaching arms to the sky as you inhale, and on the exhale sink back into the lungs. Repeat ten times on each side, moving with your breath and focusing on building heat and strength in your body.
Ah, hello ribcage! This area can start to feel tight, sore, and cramped as baby grows. For a few weeks in my early second trimester I was getting crazy rib cage pain every night, and these front and side body opening poses were lifesavers! Give yourself (and your little nugget) some breathing room as you expand the heart and create more space for your lungs to do their thing.
Lengthen the side body and make some space for your gremlin to wiggle around. Use a block if you feel challenged to balance, or shift your gaze down instead of up for more stability.
Squats are probably the best pre-baby exercise you can do. Make this a powerhouse move by adding in kegels, relaxing as you squat and contracting and you straighten the legs. You can hold onto baby or place hands on your upper thighs for support. Move through 15, pressing the weight into your heels as you work. Get it!
This pose will not only help you get strong for pushing, it also helps to stretch the tissues in your lady area to help prevent tearing during labor. Practice squatting for at 30 seconds, working up to a minute, and try to do this at least 4-5 times per day.
Don’t miss out on the benefits of back bending just because you can’t lay on your belly, but take it slow and gentle when coming into this deep stretch. Keep the toes tucked under for the first round, until you feel ready to release them and reach for the heels. Make sure your hips stay over your knees and focus on deep breathing as you open through the heart, chest, and throat.
Gentle stretching of the inner thighs and an invitation for the optimal pelvic tilt are just 2 of the reasons this pose is great for baby. Add in relaxation with a mellow forward fold.
For most women, active labor is the most intensive athletic event of our lives! Learning how to consciously relax between contractions can help you stay collected, calm, and focused as you bring your baby into the world. Avoid laying flat on your back and this can compress the vena cava and impair circulation, and instead opt for a supported fetal pose on the left side of the body. Stay in relaxation for at least ten minutes. Focus on your breath, and consciously relax all the muscles of your body – especially the face and jaw. When we relax the jaw, it signals the whole body to mellow.
I’d love to hear from the mamas out there! What felt best to you during prenatal yoga? Leave me a comment or connect via social media and share your favorite ways to connect with body and baby throughout pregnancy.
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Looking for the perfect prenatal yoga legging? This post features Preggo Leggings in Baby Blue and Ice Ice Baby (gray) – I am 5’7, 170+ lbs (I won’t let them weigh me anymore haha) and wearing a L/XL with plenty of room to spare.Tags: natural birth, preggo leggings, Prenatal Yoga, Yoga for labor, yoga poses for childbirth