If there was ever a good time for a woman to explore her own body, it would be during pregnancy. I’m not talking about exploring the lines and freckles, I’m talking about internal awareness both mentally and physically. The body is shifting and changing and we are often pushed beyond comfort levels during pregnancy and labor. When preparing for labor, it’s a good idea to begin finding methods of pain management and mindfulness. Even if you don’t plan on having a natural birth, it’s helpful to naturally labor for as long as possible to allow for progression.
Every woman has a unique way of coping with labor and birth, and there are so many birthing methods out there, but you don’t need to follow a specific protocol. You can develop your own method by finding what works most harmoniously with your body. Below, I’m listing 5 places to begin exploring for a birth strong body and mind. I recommend creating a pregnancy journal. In this, you can journal your experiences and begin to thread together methods and techniques, ex: maybe you had an ache in the back, and you moved your hips in a certain way and found a lot of relief. Write a list of these techniques down on one of the pages, bookmark it, and bring it to the birth.
Breath work can be one of the most beneficial things to work on during pregnancy and beyond. Certain types of breathing methods can have a different effect on the body. Golden thread breath (part the lips with a space that is paper thin, take a deep breath in through the nose, and slowly exhale through the mouth) can activate our parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the body that slows the heart rate and calms the body. This can be used during pregnancy to help relax and sleep, during labor for pain management, and after baby arrives when you need to wind down. Other types of breath can help us feel more balanced and energized! You can begin to try different types of breathing and find the ones that feel most useful to you. The types of breath to avoid are short rapid breaths or long holds.
So often throughout our day, we are just breezing through on auto pilot. Our mind is always wondering! Developing awareness in the body is a great way of detecting subtle changes and listen to signals. When we know what’s going on, we can begin to either sit with what is happening or make changes to find more comfort. Awareness also gives us the opportunity to honor our pregnancy and birth. Sometimes we forget the miracle in the mess of it all. We get so focused on life, that we forget about the unique little human growing inside and all of the amazing and really weird things our bodies are doing. Take time out of every day to just notice and observe all of the little details of the body.
Movement feels so good. It’s no wonder that infants love to be rocked and swayed, something about it gives comfort and ease. Movement throughout pregnancy can be used for pain and stress management; rocking and swaying gets the body moving and softens tension all over. Movement in labor can help shift and open the body. Think about taking a ring off your finger, you need to wiggle it in order to take it off. We can think about moving our hips in the same way to begin to open through the pelvis. In yoga we can explore different movements for different parts of the body. Hip rocking, shoulder shrugging, and dancing can all be used for therapeutic movement.
Building a strong body and mind are other very key ingredient here. By building physical strength and stamina you’ll be able to do more and for a longer amount of time. In the same way that we prepare for a marathon, we practice and prepare as often as we can find the time. This could be as frequent as daily or weekly. We all have busy lives, but even the smallest commitment towards this can make a big difference. You’ll want to find strength from the ground up, our legs are a support for all of the shifts in weight and balance in the body. Our abdominals give us the strength to push baby out and support our back. As arms and shoulders begin to bear the weight of growing breasts, we can better support those changes by building strength there too. Muscles work in chains and support each other, this is why we want to find all over strength and try not to focus too much on one thing. By building a mentally strong mind, we arrive in the driver seat of our experiences. Think back to any time you overcame a challenge, and know that you have it in yourself to accomplish great things, and believe that positive thought helps our outcome even when its not what was planned.
I love the way Ina May Gaskin (author and midwife) talks about a baby that is created from love should be born in love. Feelings of love and happiness have a profound effect on the body. Even if you’re not buying the whole “I can find peace through love” bit, there’s a logical explanation. When we experience an emotion, the body responds by releasing hormones into the bloodstream and then all over the body, it even makes it’s way to the placenta and baby. Things like thinking happy and loving thoughts and being affectionate with your partner can also stimulate and progress labor.
Join me in Pregnancy/Prenatal Yoga and explore all of these with me:
Wednesday 7p Charm City Yoga Midtown
Sunday 3p Charm City Yoga Pikesville
Sunday 5p Gogo Guru Yoga
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