Pregnancy is a transformative and distinct phase in any woman’s life where the expecting mother prepares her body and mind to bring another life to the world. She often undergoes a mixed feeling of exhilaration, anxiety and uncertainty over doing the right things for her developing fetus.
There is advice galore from all her near and dear ones to a pregnant woman who keep advising her about the Do’s and Don’ts to be followed for a healthy child. The expecting mother’s body is changing with each passing day and in the middle of all these physical and hormonal changes, self care assumes paramount importance for the wellness of both mother and fetus.
Eating right food with nutrients like iron, calcium, vitamins, folic acid is important to nourish the body. While iron plays an important role in nourishing red blood cells so that they can deliver oxygen to the baby, calcium is required for bone and dental health.
Vitamins C, D, B6, B12 which you can get by eating foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, curd, bananas etc play a significant role. Folic acid is absolutely necessary too for the production of blood and protein. It also reduces the chances of neural tube defects in children. On the other hand smoking and alcohol should be avoided at all costs as they can lead to health problems for the unborn child. One should also avoid sugary treats and salt-laden food.
Unlike older beliefs that a pregnant woman should rest and not exercise, doing the right physical activity can actually prepare a woman’s body for pregnancy. Yoga is a safe way to do that and many health studies vouch for its many benefits.
Benefits of Yoga in pregnancy
According to a University of Michigan study, mindfulness yoga, which combines physical poses with meditation practices, can bring relief to the depression that can accompany the emotional journey of pregnancy.
According to a PMC lab study, yoga is well indicated for pregnant women and leads to improvements on a variety of pregnancy, labour, and birth outcomes.
Mind-body practices that cultivate general health, diminish distress, and increase self awareness, such as tai chi or yoga, maybe be particularly effective in addressing both the physical and psycho-emotional aspects of pregnancy and labour, says the study.
Yoga can help in pain relief: Self-soothing techniques, psycho-education, and relaxation are particularly important in this transitional and meaningful time, according to this study. Yoga has a series of postures and breathing (Learn 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Rishikesh India) techniques that releases stress in the most effective way, improving quality of sleep and relieving several aches and pains that affect a pregnant woman.
Yoga helps to prepare the body for delivery: Yoga has a very gentle approach to well-being. For pregnant women, there are several asanas that could stretch the right muscles, open up the body and help her become more mindful of the changes happening in her body. “Maternal stress and anxiety during pregnancy is associated with a host of negative consequences for the fetus and subsequent development.
For instance, fetal exposure to maternal stress and stress-related peptides is a risk factor for adverse outcomes on the programming of the nervous system and brain morphology of fetuses, infants, and children,” says the PMC lab study. Yoga helps the expecting mother to stay away from such risks.
Yoga can help in relatively less painful labour: Yoga is known for improving pain tolerance. One of the main principles of Yoga is mindfulness which could also help you pay attention to the bodily cues. Besides when you are in more relaxed state of mind, your body releases happy hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin that make you feel good about yourself, boosts your mood and improve your overall well-being. Yoga improves the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth
Yoga relieves nausea: Many women complain of morning sickness that even make food intake difficult for them. Yoga is known for reducing nausea and shortness of breath in pregnant women.
Preparation & Precautions for Prenatal Yoga
While there are plenty of health benefits that a pregnant lady can get benefit from, it is always advisable to talk to your doctor or health expert before starting these classes. Certain women may be at increased risk of preterm labour or may have certain medical conditions like heart problem or back issues. While Yoga can make you extremely good and you may be tempted to overdo the routine, but it should be done only in moderation or as advised by your yoga trainer and doctors.
If you are going to do Prenatal Yoga, make sure you carry juices, water etc to keep yourself hydrated. Choose a well-ventilated place to practice. There are certain Yoga asanas that can be risky for expecting mothers. Do NOT try out asanas on your own.
Do’s and Don’ts
Just to make it clear, follow these points in mind while embarking on the journey of prenatal yoga with the intent of bringing a healthy child to the world:
- Do eat your veggies, lentils, dal, whole fruits for the required fibre, protein, antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, B 12, folic acid to provide enough nutrition to your foetus.
- Don’t have alcohol, if you want your child to be healthy
- Do keep moving around the house to keep your body flexible
- Don’t smoke. It’s injurious for your child’s health
- Do keep your muscles toned as it would help prepare you for childbirth
- Do not eat outside food
- Do eat fresh and home-cooked food
- Don’t do Yoga asanas without advice of your doctors
- Do practice mindfulness and breathing exercises to keep calm and steer clear of anxious thoughts
- Don’t panic, everything is going to be alright!
- Yoga for pregnant women
Here are six asanas that a pregnant woman can do for optimal health:
During the pregnancy, many women complain of aches and stiffness in their body. Cat Cow Pose is extremely good for relieving stiffness from back and shoulders and relax the body. The asana also boosts digestion and calms you. It is beneficial especially in the last trimester, as it improves blood circulation, and makes spine flexible.
Steps to do Cat and Cow pose
- Come on your knees and keep your palms on the floor
- Inhale and raise the neck while drawing the spine inwards and throwing out tail bone
- Exhale and bring your face down
- Move spine inwards and outwards with the movement of breath
- Practice this for 10-12 rounds
The asana strengthens the joints and knees and stretches neck, spine and legs. During pregnancy, it helps to maintain flexibility of the body. It also aids digestion and calms the body. Remember to do some warm-up exercises before you do this asana to avoid any injury.
Steps to do Trikonasana
- Stand straight with your feet apart
- Inhale and bring your arms sideways so that they come to the shoulder level
- Move your right foot towards the right side
- Exhale and bend the body to the right with the right hand towards the floor and left hand upwards
- The left arm should be in straight line with the right one
- Hold this posture for a couple of seconds
- Repeat from the other side
Warrior pose II helps in blood circulation and opens up hips and shoulders. It makes legs and arms strong. It has many mental health benefits and regular practice brings glow on the face and increases confidence levels. Body weight should be evenly distributed over the feet and those suffering from knee pain should avoid this asana.
Steps to do Veerbhadrasana 2
- Keep your feet apart and bring your right foot forward while left food should be backward
- Turn your left toes towards the left side
- Lift your torso and extend your arms out to make a “T” shape.
Baddha Konasana is very good for improving flexibility in groin region and helps to open up hips. For those who suffer from pain in thighs and knees during pregnancy can get relief with this asana. It helps to improve blood circulation, alleviate stress and good for digestion. If you are practicing it in your last trimester, it could also help prepare your body for smooth delivery.
Steps to do Baddha Konasana
- Sit straight on the floor with soles of the feet pressing each other
- Bring your feet as close as possible to the pelvis
- Hold the feet with hands and flap your legs
- While inhaling feel the energy the energy in your spine
- With each breath out feel relaxed
- Stay in the position for 2-3 minutes
Viparita Karani is very effective in improving blood flow in various parts of the body including pelvic region. It also helps bring relief in swollen feet, which is experienced by many during pregnancy.
Steps to do Viparita Karani
- Lie down on your back
- Bend your knees so that your soles touch the ground
- Bring your legs upward slowly
- Bring your lower body up along with legs
- Support your lower back by clutching it with your hands
- Bring your leg upwards as much as you can
Shavasana is all about relaxing every part of your body to release tension and stress at a deeper level. During pregnancy, women may experience anxiety, stress, and stiffness & tension in their body. Shavasana not only helps in relieving aches and pains but also aids in sleep.
Steps to do Shavasana
- Lie down on your back comfortably
- Loosen up your body and keep your hands and legs apart
- Take some deep breaths and begin by focusing on each part of your body starting from your toes
- Move up to the knees, thighs, lower back, upper back, shoulders, neck, forehead.
- Continue with the deep breathing till all the stress from your body is relieved and you feel completely light.
- Stay in the posture for as long as you feel like