As a mum of three (our youngest one is only 4 months old) I experienced the benefits of yoga for pregnancy and birth several times – although I hardly ever attended a pregnancy yoga class myself. However, I learned a lot of useful exercises and breathing techniques in a birth preparation course led by my wonderful midwife when I was pregnant with my first child. Together with some advice from fellow yoga teachers and mums and a bit of research I was able to adapt my personal yoga practice to my needs.
I never had complications during pregnancy and I felt fit and healthy all the time. I was even able to teach (normal!) yoga classes until a few days before delivery!
But it is not only about the physical fitness. As pregnancy is a time of ongoing change these months can be very challenging, mentally and emotionally. Many women (and their partners!) struggle with conflicting emotions: On the one hand they are excited about the baby, but on the other hand they realize that life will be completely different from now on. Yoga helped me to accept and – most times – enjoy what was happening, and to be relaxed about the future. I didn’t fear the birth process, as I knew I could trust my body, and that my midwives and doctors will support me.
Being prepared even better when giving birth to my second son I realized how powerful breath can be as a painkiller, and how important physical health is to support your baby when travelling into the real world. I was focused all the time during labour, listening to my body and intuitively doing the right things at the right time. There was no need to take drugs for improving the birthing process or relieving pain. My midwife later told me, she only needed to catch the baby and stop it from popping out too fast!
When having the third child my midwife was surprised about my husband and me being so relaxed when we arrived at the hospital. She usually doesn't have patients who read books during labour! She was absolutely fascinated by my ability to get into a meditative state just through breathing without any further assistance. Again, there was no need for pain killers. Of course, I could feel the pain, but I was able to deal with it and keep it down at a bearable level.
In all three cases I was strong enough to return back home only hours after delivery. After having number three 4 months ago I found myself sitting at a friend's dining table less than 5 hours after birth, chatting and enjoying a meal together! That was amazing, even to me, and prooved that regular practise before birth also helps you to recover quickly after birth.
I know that I have always been blessed with good health, but I'm sure that without yoga I wouldn’t have enjoyed my pregnancies that much!