It is not recommended to commence yoga postures until the second trimester (about 12-14 weeks) of pregnancy. Before this time the baby is growing very rapidly and it’s a good time to rest and practice breathing exercises and meditation as well as pelvic floor exercises.
With all the changes taking place in the body it can take time to recover your energies and rather than resisting the urge to sleep it is better for you and your baby to give in and rest.
Even though pregnancy yoga is gentle it is important to check in with how you are feeling every day. When you approach yoga like this you will enjoy it more and reduce the risk of strain from over effort.
Before you begin yoga classes always discuss your intentions with your doctor or midwife to ensure that yoga will be suitable for you.
At no time should you strain while doing the various postures, experience pain or feel any discomfort.
Discontinue a posture immediately if you feel faint; light headed, dizzy or nauseous. If you are tired, spend some time doing breathing exercises or rest down into a recovery pose like ‘Childs pose’. This will help you to restore your energy.
Always rest with your knees bent. If your baby is in a posterior position it is helpful to sit more forward rather than leaning back. Leaning forward helps your baby come into the optimum anterior position for birth.
Avoid full squatting if your baby is either breech or posterior. Instead squat on a stool or birth ball where your knees are in line or above your hips. This is because the pelvis is much wider in a full squat and may encourage the baby to descend and engage for birth- which is ideal if they are in the correct position but not ideal if they are in an unfavourable position.
If you have high or low blood pressure avoid all head down postures. Even if blood pressure is normal, return to standing from head down very slowly.
If you have varicose veins or swollen feet avoid postures where you are sitting on your feet.
If you are uncomfortable lying in your back at any stage then rest on your side instead. This discomfort is due to pressure from the weight of the abdomen on the vena cava, a major vein on the right side of your body. Although it’s not dangerous to lie on your back, it can cause nausea and backache, especially in the last trimester. If you want to lay on your back place a cushion under your head, another under the right hip and bend your knees.
Allow space for your growing baby. Avoid closed twists, lying on your abdomen, strong abdominal work and strong twists around the lower abdomen and lower back.
Due to the hormone ‘relaxin’ which is released in pregnancy, a pregnant woman is more susceptible to over stretching and pelvic instability. Connective tissue becomes much softer allowing the pubic symphysis to open. For this reason, always stretch mindfully, using the breath during your yoga practice.
Guidelines for fertility yoga when using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
Keep to low impact activities such as restorative yoga poses. Research suggests that high impact sport may disrupt reproductive hormone regulation.
Shorter sessions of exercise, discontinuing if you experience any pain or discomfort. Avoid deep twists or yoga poses with too much deep abdominal work.
This will depend on your own comfort levels. 48 hours of rest is advised. Allow any swelling, inflammation or discomfort to pass before resuming activity.
48 hours of rest
After 48 hour you can resume gentle exercise
Gentle yoga during the 2 week wait period
Don’t overdo the exercise at this stage avoiding any shortness of breath.
Mums and Bubs Yoga:
The body will recover from all aspects of pregnancy naturally, with the uterus contracting to its former shape by about 6 weeks postpartum. The body’s ligaments will return to their former length and elasticity in around 3-6 months.
If you have had a caesarean birth give yourself a little longer before you start your exercise program. At least 6-8 weeks. Beginning exercise too soon may jeopardize the healing of the incision. If you experience any tugging sensations when working, stop exercise or reduce the intensity. Avoid wide leg standing poses, lunges, and back bends.
Listen to the needs of your body.
If you have experienced diastases rectus be careful not to hyperextend your rib cage in poses such as Triangle, warrior 11 and Downward facing dog. Back bends can also prevent Diastases from healing.
Don’t push yourself too far too soon. Remember it takes 9 months to grow your baby and 9 months for your body to heal.
Aim to exercise a few times a week and remember to be flexible.
Avoid exercise that may strain your breasts
If you feel short of breath or dizzy during exercise slow down or stop.