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  • Writer's pictureYour EmmaWell Team

Why You Should Practice Yoga During Pregnancy

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

It is well-known that yoga can make its devotees stronger - not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. Women who practice yoga during pregnancy can learn how to improve their comfort throughout each stage and glean tools to ensure a positive birth experience. Many women have met some of their closest friends while bonding on the yoga mat during pregnancy. But in an age of social isolation, when expecting moms can’t physically attend a class in a yoga studio or have their full support team in the delivery room, how can yoga help make pregnancy and labor easier?

Randi Coen Gilbert has figured out the answer after two decades of teaching yoga to women. Randi credits a full yoga practice with saving her mental health as a new mom and giving her skills to be a better parent. Since having her second baby over 20 years ago, she began a lifelong career of compassionate care for women and children through yoga instruction, birth doula support, and child advocacy. Dedicated to giving moms the best start possible, Randi has become the Philadelphia Main Line’s guru for prenatal and postnatal yoga classes and founded Yoga Mamas, which offers wellness weekends for moms and moms-to-be and a pre/postnatal yoga teacher training program.

Due to the pandemic, Randi’s classes and workshops have been operating virtually, but they offer students the same opportunity as in person: uninterrupted time for self-care, stress relief, strength-building, and social connection. Though they may be through a screen (as is the norm these days), these takeaways for pregnant and new moms are only the beginning. Randi shared with us what she has discovered to be the top benefits of yoga throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond, as well as some insights on improving outcomes for moms in general.

Ten Benefits of Yoga During Every Stage of Pregnancy:

1. Provides special time for you and and your baby to nurture a loving bond

2. Teaches the practice of mindfulness, which reduces stress and brings about strength, clarity, and stability

3. Encourages mind-body awareness, which helps you understand what your body is telling you during labor and delivery

4. Incorporates breathing exercises that will increase your energy, balance your emotions, promote well-being, and calm the central nervous system during labor

5. Stretches your muscles to relax and release tension, especially across the upper back and shoulders, which have to carry additional weight in your chest

6. Lengthens your body to create room for your baby, make you feel more comfortable, and improve your posture and the function of your organs, which affects digestion and breath

7. Strengthens your body to support the weight of a growing baby, reduce back pain, and aid in labor (as strong muscles grow fatigued more slowly)

8. Fosters a better understanding and control of muscles in the pelvic floor to aid in pushing during delivery, faster recovery, and decreased incontinence issues

9. Improves circulation and sleep quality

10. Induces opening to help your baby move into the best position for an easier birth!

How frequently does prenatal yoga have to be practiced to maximize its benefits before, during, and after childbirth?

Even a weekly prenatal yoga class will be beneficial, but the more you incorporate yoga into a daily practice, the more benefits you’ll feel. Before childbirth, one of the greatest benefits of yoga is learning to breathe fully to find a place of calm in the central nervous system and understand your needs. After gaining this skill, moms are able to do the work of labor instead of feeling anxious or overwhelmed by pain. Post-childbirth, that same breath and internal mindfulness helps mothers in many ways, including recovering their core strength safely and developing their intuition for parenting.