How Yoga can help your labor and Birth. Andrea’s story. A taste of a Yoga for Labor class.
In my classes over the years I have watched the reaction on my student’s faces when I mention the fourth class of our prenatal yoga course will be about birth. Most shudder. Some call or text on the evening of the class with an excuse about having to work late and skip it altogether!
I share with them the best advice I was given when I was pregnant with my first child and what I tell all of my prenatal students; Birth? 36 hours maximum. What comes after? 20 years.
Given that millions of women, including myself, routinely repeat the experience, birth cannot be all that bad. So how do you best prepare for it? The answer is educate yourself. Read texts. Attend your antenatal classes. Prepare your body. Every labor is different, even for woman that are having their 2nd, 3rd, 4th or more.
In this post I’ll be taking you through why Yoga and Yogic Breath are so important to your labor and birth.
First I want to share a real life story…
Andrea’s story and how Yoga for Labor assisted her natural birth
Here’s a case history of a much loved student of mine. Andrea has now had two babies and attended my prenatal courses back to back when pregnant with her second. Andrea, a natural practitioner herself, had her heart set on a natural, home birth for her first baby. She hired three midwives, a birthing pool and had her whole family present for the birth. Unfortunately, however, her labor did not go as planned, as births – particularly your first – often don’t. The labor was long, in total thirty hours. Her midwives argued about the best way to go forward. Her family worried amongst themselves. Her baby became stuck in the birth canal and she had to be transferred to hospital, very quickly. Needless to say, Andrea was very disappointed in the result, although both she and her baby were safely delivered.
When she became pregnant with her second however, she was much more laid back. She still wanted a vaginal, home birth – but she was realistic regarding her expectations. She hired one, very experienced midwife and this time only her husband and her sister were invited to the labor. We worked throughout her pregnancy on postures and breathing techniques for birth. In the end she chose one pose and one breathing technique for the entire labor. She didn’t place any pressure on herself. And her baby was born after 10 hours, naturally, at home, resulting in a very happy mother!
What can we take away from Andrea’s story? To my mind its preparation and being realistic. In our increasingly busy lives, control has become very important. Often, we have so much pressure placed on us we feel very out of control. The control we have over birth, is minimal. As I said earlier, every birth is different. And how you choose to go about it, whether a home birth, a birthing suite, the labor ward – with drugs or without- or an elective caesarean, is completely up to you. Educate yourself. Know the risks. Have a birth plan and be prepared to throw it completely out the window.
Preparing for labor with yoga
My Yogayin Prenatal Yoga Course teaches yoga for labor. The course will help you towards a positive birth experience by providing:
- The best yoga poses assist achieve a positive birth experience, including:
- Postures to manage contractions and minimise pain;
- Resting poses to build energy between contractions;
- Yoga natural birth positions;
- Yoga breath to aid during contractions, prevent straining, tearing and ease pain.
- Pelvic Floor Strengthening that is vital to your preparations for labor – and postnatal recovery
- How to include your husband or partner in labor and massage
- Meditation and relaxation to reduce negative beliefs and emotions while increasing coping mechanisms
- And much more
Yoga postures and skills lend themselves perfectly during labor. There are poses to help open the body, poses to work through contractions for all three stages of birth, poses to help you work with breach. You may have a hard and fast delivery or longer and slower. There are advantages to both. Either way, there are labor poses to suit. You may fall in love with one position – like Andrea – or you may need to change it up. The poses are deliberately simple and easy to remember.
In childbirth, your breath is your best friend, particularly your exhalation or out- breath. Simple breathing and sound techniques routinely practiced before and during labor can mean the difference between tearing whilst giving birth or not. Sound and breath have been medically proven to assist your body in childbirth. And I look forward to teaching you how in my course.
The more you practice the poses and breathing techniques I teach prior to birth, the more like second nature they will be in the moment. And having this yogic bag of tools offers you the one thing birth doesn’t – a measure of control. That doesn’t mean you can absolutely control your labor or birth outcome. It means you can enter labor with confidence knowing you have the skills to get through the difficult moments.
Always remember that the most important labor outcome is that your baby is healthy and safe and so are you. If you have that, you have everything. And get ready for the next 20 years!