By DeLora Frederickson, ECPRYT500
Therapeutic Pre/Postnatal Yoga
Studies rank pregnancy at number twelve on the list of life's most stressful events. There are so many things to worry about and so many unknowns, with plenty of fodder for the gristmill of the chattering mind. The body responds with tension, stiffness, and rigidity. Financial worries, health concerns, fetal development, maintaining friendships, and working right up until birth all add up to stressed out mommies. None of these qualities create ease with birth.
Cortisol levels always rise with stress, but cortisol in addition to the naturally occurring hormonal shifts during pregnancy can create an overwhelming flood of emotions. This rise has been associated with negative neonatal and obstetric outcomes. Prolonged high stress hormone levels increase the likelihood of miscarriage as well as the birth of premature and underweight babies. After birth, babies born to women with prolonged severe stress are more likely to experience developmental delays, emotional difficulties, and metabolic diseases later in life.
These staggering statements bring us to the practice of relaxation for pregnancy and the birthing time. The cultural norms by which we are surrounded promote achieving more, pressing harder, and doing the most. This is why it is especially important to seek out opportunities to rest, let go, and find ease in the body, breath and mind during pregnancy.
The benefits of prenatal relaxation include lower heart rate and blood pressure along with a lower incidence of gestational hypertension. Also included are shorter labors and fewer deliveries involving instruments (forceps or vacuum). Another large motivator to find ways to relax during the perinatal time is reduced pain during labor. Relaxation practices can also reduce the possibility for caesarean birth and postpartum complications. With integrated relaxation practices the outcomes improve overall for babies and mommas.
Finding a daily practice to support release of stress, fear, tension, gripping, and stiffness is the key to avoiding these unwanted outcomes. The daily practices below empower women, teaching techniques of ease or sukha during the birthing time. They help women let go of life’s fears and anxieties. Start now to weave relaxation into the fabric of your new life as a Mother.
Suggested Practice: Yoga Nidra
Known as yogic sleep, Yoga Nidra creates a deep relaxation found through a guided visualization. Lying in a supported reclining posture with an eye pillow and a blanket covering the body, momma listens to yoga nidra daily to train the body, breath, and mind to slow down and relax.
Suggested Practice: Constructive Rest
Lay on your back with your hips lifted with a folded blanket and your calves resting on another blanket on the seat of a chair. The arms lay out to the side palms up. Hips are lifted enough to get the back lifted off the floor to prevent pressure on the vena cava. Use an eye pillow and cover yourself with yet another blanket for warmth and comfort. Let your breath be long and slow. Practice for at least 5 minutes.
Suggested Practice: Curling
Lay on your side with your knees bent up toward your chest (as comfortably as possible), and with the head supported.
Gently rock side to side while “sssshhhhhhhh”-ing softly for at least three minutes.