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The Best Pregnancy Stretches & Prenatal Yoga for Expecting Parents

September 16, 2021

Prenatal yoga and pregnancy stretching are great options for couples looking to improve their pregnancy health. Yoga offers expecting mothers a variety of strengths, flexibility, mindfulness and pregnancy friendly stretches. It can help ease labor. A prenatal yoga class can help couples connect if they have their fathers on board.

What are the Benefits of Prenatal Yoga?

Erica Rodefer Winters, prenatal yoga coach and certified yoga instructor, said that even those who have never tried prenatal yoga can participate. Prenatal yoga is low-key and easy to learn, but it has many benefits that can help women grow a healthy life.

Winters says that the poses can be helpful in relieving a variety of pains and aches, such as sciatica or carpal tunnel, experienced by pregnant women. Learning to hold yourself in a more comfortable way to carry a baby is a big part of this. Mindfulness can be a great tool to help you manage the enormous transition.

Winters says that dads-to be can also benefit. There are many birth techniques that focus on focused breathing, she says. Lamaze and Bradley Method make it possible for fathers to be a breathing coach during labor. Yoga is a practice.

Winters says, “Breathing.” When you do yoga together, that’s exactly what your doing.

Tips for Getting Started

Prenatal yoga or prenatal massage is a great way to start your practice. There are many resources available online for couples looking for help. Winters recommends that those who are new to the practice search for videos on prenatal yoga. Her website, Spoiledyogi.com, has many.

Winters says that prenatal yoga does not require couples to compete or push boundaries, no matter what their choice. She says, “Pregnancy is not the right time to push yourself to do harder and more difficult things.” Women should use yoga to listen to their bodies, she says. Prenatal yoga can help you find your edge and learn how to listen to it.

Moms-to be should pay attention to their breath. It’s time for moms-to-be to relax if a pose causes shallow breaths that don’t reach the abdomen. Winter also warns that relaxin, a hormone that is produced during pregnancy causes tendons to become softer. It’s better to not push the limits. She suggests instead that you focus on building strength.

As pregnancy progresses, expectant moms should be aware of how much they are carrying. Winters advises that you don’t “squish” your baby. It’s a no-no to do anything that would involve putting your baby on the ground. Avoid twisting poses, as they can compress the baby.

Prenatal Yoga in the First Trimester

Moving is not restricted in the first trimester. However, it can affect energy levels. Winters recommends that mothers who are already practicing yoga continue to do so with whatever they feel most comfortable with. She also suggests:

  • Savasana is a pose that is usually done after a practice. This position requires you to lie on your back with your face down and relax your limbs. You can also take a nap.
  • Child’s Pose – Another popular and relaxing pose, the child’s pose involves starting on your hands and knees and then lowering your hips towards your heels. This will place your upper body in a fetal position.

Prenatal Yoga in the Second Trimester

The second trimester is when prenatal yoga poses become more active. Although energy is returning, there are limits to what the body can do. Winters suggests strengthening the pelvic floor and opening the hips with poses.

  • Cat and Cow: This is a hands and knees position that alternates between an open chest and an arched back. Winters explains that the movements are related to the cycle of the breath. Inhale and lift your crown, broadening your collarbones. Inhale and round your back. Feel your shoulder blades spread out. Now look in towards your growing belly.
  • Warrior 2 – This standing position helps to strengthen the pelvic floor which is vital for giving birth. To create warrior two, you can either hold your hands on your knees or face downward facing dog. You do this by placing one foot between your hands, press down on the opposite heel, and then lift your upper body, arms extended. This will result in a nice lunge.

Prenatal Yoga in the Third Trimester

Third trimester poses are more about labor preparation. These poses help you create space and allow you to breathe into a relaxed, openness. Moms-to be should take extra care as their abdomen has grown. If a stretch causes the belly to squished, they should bring in yoga blocks.

  • Low Lunge: Simply, a lunge. The other leg is extended behind the foot, and the toes are tucked under your feet. The other leg is in front, with the knee aligned above the foot. Winters suggests that you inhale and extend your chest forward, so your spine is straight. Inhale, relax your shoulders, jaw, tongue, and mouth. Take two to three deep, slow breaths.
  • Garland Pose: This pose is for children to squat down and look at the ground. It’s essentially a deep squat. To make space for the belly, feet and knees must be separated. Your torso should be straight with your bottom above the floor. The hands should be pressed against the heart, with elbows gently pressing knees forward.