Childbirth is an amazing, life-changing event.
For many women, it is also a time of fear and anxiety.
Yoga can help to ease those fears and give you the confidence you need for a positive childbirth experience.
In this blog post, we will explore how yoga can help you through labour and delivery.
We will also provide helpful tips on what positions to use and when.
So whether you are an experienced yogi or a first-timer, read on to learn more about how yoga for labour can help you have a positive, calming childbirth experience.
You’ll be able to approach childbirth with confidence, knowing that you’re prepared mentally and physically.
Trust your body; this is what it was made for!
The benefits of yoga to prepare for childbirth
Yoga is an excellent form of daily exercise even when you’re not pregnant; it’s also a great way to prepare your body and mind for childbirth.
Yoga for childbirth is becoming increasingly popular as it promotes confidence and relaxation.
It also increases the likelihood of having a natural physiological birth while significantly reducing labour time.
Regular practice relaxes your mind and body, strengthens the muscles used during childbirth, and connects you with your breath to prepare for labour.
Yoga breathing techniques for labour are a very common and effective way of managing pain during labour.
Studies show that yoga for labour increases the quality of sleep and reduces anxiety and stress.
Yoga poses for labour have also been shown to and also decreases nausea, headaches, shortness of breath and lower back pain.
There are many different types and experience levels of yoga to choose from.
For those yogis that have been practising for a while, you can apply simple modifications to your regular flow.
For those who are not so acquainted with the yoga mat, there is a range of youtube videos that you can follow to suit your experience level and abilities.
You’ll be feeling more connected in no time!
How to use yoga during labour
Doing a simple, gentle yoga flow or even finding some yoga-inspired movement is a great way to relieve pain and discomfort and move the baby into the optimal birthing position.
This can be done during the early stages of labour.
Many women also believe that yoga for labour induction really works!
Moving around in your preferred yoga positions can also help the baby move into the optimal birthing position and has been proven to shorten labour time significantly.
Having your partner help you move through your flow can connect you and your partner more deeply, experiencing and progressing through labour together.
Yoga breathing for labour can be an effective way to help with the pain.
Slow breathing isn’t only a relaxation tactic; it’s also a form of pain relief during labour.
As labour progresses and contractions become more intense, breathing exercises are even more important – they provide oxygen to the baby and help the mother stay relaxed during the process.
Not only can breathing help you relax better, but gentle movement combined with breathing can help guide your baby down the birth canal and manage pain.
During contractions, spend time doing mindful breathing exercises taught in pregnancy yoga classes, or ask a partner or doula to remind you to keep breathing slowly and deeply.
Yoga positions to prepare for labour
Yoga can be a great way to stay strong and healthy during pregnancy, as well as prepare for labour.
By practising some specific yoga positions, you can get yourself better prepared for labour by loosening the muscles in your hips and strengthening your core.
Starting with a simple meditation to visualise the birth that you would like to have and release all the fears and anxiety that you have around your birth.
Next big hip circles moving in any direction that feels good can help release any tension and pain that you have in your hips, lower back, shoulders and wrists.
In pregnancy, progesterone makes our ligaments lengthen and loosen, which puts strain on our joints and makes the mother feel a bit creaky.
Slow cat-cow stretches work wonders for your spine and your abdominal muscles, helping you open up and release tension in the neck and practice deep breathing.
Another position that is great for moving your baby into the optimal birthing position is pelvic tilts; these help to strengthen your core and lengthen the muscles in your back and thighs.
Moving into a downward dog pose takes some pressure off the usual muscles and joints that are carrying the extra weight of the baby all day.
Peddling out the legs also helps to lengthen the muscles in your legs, shoulders and back, it also feels great to be upside down for a change.
Next, a range of moves that are great for opening up your pelvis and hips and releasing your psoas include deep squats, goddess pose and low lunges.
The butterfly pose is the perfect pose to breathe, stretch and relax into childbirth.
Sitting in butterfly pose or cross-legged and practising your belly breathing is a great exercise to incorporate into your daily practice.
Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is the best yoga breathing technique for labour and as I’m sure you’ve heard before, “breathing your baby out”.
It not only relaxes you and helps you focus, but it also increases the amount of oxygen in your blood and decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, allowing you to stay calm and focused throughout labour.
In the early stages of labour, Hip rotations whilst sitting on a birthing ball can help you loosen up your hip, abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
Child’s pose is perfect for achieving ultimate relaxation as labour progresses.
Incorporating these poses into your daily routine can benefit you throughout pregnancy, birth and into the future.
Tips for having the birth of your dreams – how your partner can get involved
Making a birth plan is something that almost every expecting mother and her partner do to prepare for the birth, but how many actually go to plan?
Unfortunately, the likelihood of your birth going to plan is low but this can be due to a few factors. Lack of support is one of these major factors.
Whatever your dream birth entails, having a support person there to help you through can make a huge difference.
Taking a couples prenatal yoga class together fosters a deep open connection with your partner and allows you to work and flow together.
Your partner and you will learn positions that can be used during labour, such as how to use belly breathing as a form of pain relief.
Making up and talking through the birth plan before the birth can also be a great way to ensure that he can act as an advocate to increase the chances of you having the birth of your dreams.
Studies show that using movement throughout labour and birth reduces the length of labour and reduces the likelihood of developing complications and having to have unnessisary interventions.
Hiring a virtual doula who does online yoga for labour classes can also be a step towards making sure you have the birth of your dreams.
FAQs about yoga and childbirth
Pregnancy is a unique time in any woman’s life, and yoga can be a great way to help both the mind and body prepare for childbirth.
Many expecting mothers have questions about the safety of yoga during pregnancy, as well as what to expect in terms of the benefits and risks of practising yoga while pregnant.
How far in advance should I start doing yoga?
You can start practising prenatal yoga as early or late as you feel is right for you. To access all of the benefits, it’s recommended to start at least 2-3 months before the baby is due to arrive.
It’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider prior to commencing prenatal yoga practice.
Are there any yoga poses I should avoid?
It’s best to avoid deep twists, backbends and inversions during pregnancy. When practising yoga, listen to your body and pay attention to how each pose feels.
If anything doesn’t feel right, modify the pose or skip it altogether. It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids and avoid overheating.
What other techniques can I use to help prepare for labour?
Hypnobirthing, meditation and visualisation are all effective practices that can be used alongside yoga to help prepare for labour.
It is also important to keep up your general fitness, get adequate rest and eat a balanced diet.
How often should I do yoga when preparing for labour?
You should aim to practice yoga at least three times per week while pregnant, but it’s also important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard.
Just a few minutes of gentle stretching and breathing exercises can make all the difference.
Can yoga help reduce pain during labour?
Yes! Yoga can help decrease the intensity and duration of contractions, regulate your breathing, and even reduce anxiety.
Practising yoga during pregnancy also helps prepare your body for childbirth by increasing circulation to the pelvis and strengthening the muscles involved in childbirth.
Practising yoga for labour is perfectly safe for expecting mothers
With proper instruction, guidance, and precautions, practising yoga for labour is perfectly safe for expecting mothers.
The right poses can help you stay comfortable and enjoy a safer, more positive labour experience.
If you have any concerns about yoga during pregnancy and labour or experience any pain during your practice, please consult with your doctor.
If you’re interested in learning more about how yoga can help you during pregnancy and childbirth, I’d be happy to chat with you.