Recently a new Canadian guideline for exercise during pregnancy was released which states that not only is exercise recommended and beneficial during pregnancy, it also cuts the risk of developing major pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and gestational hypertension by 40%. These new guidelines are the result of a review of 675 unique studies that updates the previous recommendations which were 15 years old. The highlight of the recommendations is that all pregnant women, with the exception of, those who are considered high risk and told not to exercise for medical reasons, should be exercising a minimum of two and a half hours per week. It even goes on the say that women who were not previously exercising should follow the same recommendations. Exercise that involves physical contact, danger of falling, high altitudes or excessive heat should be avoided.
It is advisable that women discuss physical activity with their healthcare provider before starting any kind of exercise during pregnancy and always listen to their bodies. For some women the exhaustion and nausea experienced during pregnancy may take priority over getting moving and that should be honoured. Our bodies are amazing and at times might just need rest, food and sleep. When women are feeling well and cleared for movement I highly suggest trying Prenatal Yoga. Here’s why;
- Prenatal yoga is safe. Classes that are designed for pregnancy and led by a trained yoga teacher* are safe for all stages of pregnancy. The risk of falling is very minimal and props are used to make the movements and poses accessible for all different body types and abilities.
- Prenatal yoga classes are designed to address the Prenatal body. During pregnancy our bodies change quickly and drastically so we want to address the areas of tension and weakness. A class designed just for Prenatal persons will do just that and help you enjoy your changing body rather than focus on the aches and pains.
- Yoga addresses the person’s holistic needs. Pregnancy is a time of emotional and spiritual change. Yoga provides a way for women to check in with how they are feeling and allows them space to connect with themselves and start bonding with their baby.
- Prenatal yoga is a great way to prepare for birth and life with a newborn. Yoga poses (asanas) help prepare the body for the physical work of labour and childbirth. Breathing, visualization, meditation, mindfulness and mantras (affirmations) can all be used during birth as well. Then, after baby is born, we can continue to use these tools to help us navigate the challenges of parenthood.
- Yoga teaches women to be intuitive. This is a skill that is being lost in our age of information yet is so useful during labour, birth and motherhood.
- Community and support during pregnancy can be wonderful to help mothers feel that they are not alone in their journeys. Being around other pregnant women in an environment that is safe and non judgmental can enhance the experience of pregnancy. Many life long friendships are born in a prenatal yoga class.
I always remind moms that when they practice yoga during pregnancy they are planting little seeds for their babies. Someday your child will learn that you practiced yoga with them inside of you and they may too be drawn to practice in their own time.
*Not all yoga poses and movements are safe during pregnancy.
Make sure that your Yoga Teacher has take Prenatal specific training.