Tranquility Mums : Yoga To Help You Transition Into Motherhood 

For many mums-to-be, pregnancy is a rite of passage that leads them into motherhood. It’s an important transition during which they must adapt to changes in their body, hormones, and psyche. 

By Noona Ayres

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Certainly, in pre-lockdown times, life had a habit of being very fast paced with very little time for oneself. Pre-natal yoga provides a wonderful opportunity of slowing down, connecting inwards to the changes that expectant Mums are undergoing and forming a bond with their growing baby. Even for Mums who already have children, prenatal yoga is a chance to focus on their unborn baby. 

Many people ask what the difference is between yoga and Pilates. Unlike Pilates, yoga is more than just movement. It provides a more subtle and spiritual element to prenatal exercise, touching on the energetic aspects & psychology of approaching motherhood as well as the physical changes that manifest.   

When specifically adapted to the needs of prenatal mums, Yoga is safe to practice during pregnancy providing your doctor has given you the all-clear. Certain postures are avoided to protect the baby and a gentler approach is required, considering the changes the Mum is undergoing.  An element of deep listening to the body is encouraged. Many Mums report feeling more relaxed after prenatal yoga. Happy Mum, happy baby! 

Prenatal yoga includes poses that help the mother’s body to adapt to her growing baby.  Specific poses are practiced to help the foetus move into the correct position in preparation for birth. A focus is also given to breathing since lung capacity reduces as pregnancy progresses. Unlike regular yoga, there is a significant focus on pelvic floor integrity, and pelvic floor exercises are practiced in every session to maintain and assist pelvic floor health throughout pregnancy and beyond. 

You can practice Pre-Natal yoga during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters providing your doctor has given you the all-clear. During the 1st trimester it’s more important to go inwards and connect with your body as it undergoes major changes. 

Yoga can help ease stress levels during pregnancy and also assists the process of labour. In pre-natal yoga classes, we practice a variety of breathing techniques that work on the nervous system, lowering stress levels and bringing about a state of relaxation. A calm Mum releases far less cortisol (stress hormone) into her system and hence her baby’s. These breathing practices can be very helpful during labour to stay focussed and calm. 

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During labour it’s important to keep the nervous system in the parasympathetic state (‘rest and digest’) as this assists the process by releasing more of the hormones that induce labour and the endorphins which help relieve pain. In this respect the breathing techniques are also helpful for dealing with contractions. 

After giving birth it’s advised to rest for 40 days to give the body time to heal, the uterus to shrink back and for Mum to adapt to motherhood. As long as the doctor gives the all-clear after this it’s safe to practice gentle yoga, focussing on rebuilding core, pelvic floor strength and easing muscular tension from breastfeeding. 

Author : Noona Ayres is a Certified Integral Yoga Instructor and loves teaching pregnant women and new mothers.

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