During pregnancy, the most commonly recommended exercise is yoga. As such, moms-to-be all over the world participate in prenatal yoga classes on a weekly basis. Some practice regularly at home, others sign up for classes not only as a way to stretch and tone but also to meet other moms.
As a prenatal yoga instructor, I get to see the benefits of regular yoga practice during pregnancy all the time. I see students as they start, dubious but hopeful about the benefits that yoga can bring. I see them grow and become used to the practice, gaining confidence in their bodies as the weeks go by. And most importantly, I see them after the birth and I get to hear their birth stories, meet their little ones and learn the different ways that their yoga practices were beneficial to them.
For obvious reasons, prenatal yoga classes are primarily attended by women (at least in-studio classes). Many moms don’t share their yoga practices with their partner which is unfortunate for many reasons. Partners often have no idea what moms do during yoga and therefore are unable to provide suggestions during labour that could help a lot. This is why I started teaching Yoga for Birth with birth partners included!
This class has been really well received by our community of moms (and dads) because it’s very practical and gives both parents confidence about their ability to handle the delivery room. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the most useful things covered:
Golden Thread Breath
We’ve covered the Golden Thread breath before and there’s a really good reason why we keep coming back to it: IT WORKS! Doing this technique with your birthing partner BEFORE you enter the delivery room (or if you’re delivering at home, before labour really kicks in) enables them to know the pattern of the breath. If you happen to forget the technique or if you get distracted (for any other reason that may come up), your birthing partner can guide you back into the breath without words. We practice a number of shared breathing techniques (breathing in tune while sitting back-to-back with our partners, moving in partner Warrior 1/2 positions with shared breath). The reason is to start getting both partners in the mindset of working (and breathing!) together.
Make some noise
Noise (humming, groaning, deep moaning noises) can be really helpful to moms in labour. However, if you’re not used to making these noises, moms can sometimes (unfortunately) get embarrassed and avoid using this pain-relieving technique. Which is exactly why both parents have to make the noises together and we practice them together in class. It may feel really weird to try but practicing a loud humming or moaning together is worth the benefits that these noises can bring to your labour. Why do birthing partners have to do it too? Nothing better than solidarity for awkward moments. You’ll likely be pleased to find your midwife or nursing joining in too.
Get on the ground
All fours is the king of yoga poses for pregnancy. Not only does this position encourage your baby to slide into the best position for birth (head down, back towards your belly) but it feels great! And during labour, this position can not only be a great way to relieve pain by moving hips around in circles or in a figure 8 position, but it can also help the baby to descend even more, placing pressure on the cervix and speeding dilation along. This is also a great position in which to receive a back massage from your partner! Best position?
Start in all fours and bring your right foot up towards your right hand but a bit more out to the side. Hands are on the ground in between your right foot and left knee. Partners are behind moms and they place their hands on the moms shoulders. With one solid movement, partners move their hands down the moms back all the way to the lower hips (and maybe even thighs!) in a strong, solid motion. Repeating as much as mom wants.
Remember those big physiotherapy balls that were really popular for a while as office chairs? They are also great birthing tools. Perfect for sitting (making circles with the hips or just rocking back and forth) or standing (with the ball behind you on the wall), you can also get a little stretch by placing your arms along the ball and kneeling on the ground. Partners can lightly pull and push your arms forward and back, providing release in your lower back and sides. This position feels so good you just might want to stay in labour longer (now we’re really kidding but the pose is good!).
Practice makes perfect
It’s never too early or late to start practicing these positions with your birthing partner and there’s nothing wrong with writing down a few ideas and sticking them into the hospital bag as a reminder. The more you practice, the more it will become like second nature and you won’t even have to think in the delivery room. You can also include any positions you would like suggested to you during labour in your birth plan so your caregivers can be aware ahead of time.
Questions about any of the suggested positions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org