Yoga Poses to Help with Labor and Delivery
I’m soon approaching my due date (July 30th). I’m super excited, yet also a bit nervous! I’m sure when it comes time to deliver, I will rely heavily on my yoga breathing. In the meantime, I’m really concentrating on lunges, squats, hip opening and pelvic floor strengthening. Here are a few of my favorite moves, and I hope these will help you too during labor and delivery if you’re an expecting mom.
Cat/Cow—I plan to try and deliver naturally (although when the time comes we will see what happens!). I do know that women who don’t receive an epidural find it’s sometimes easier to deal with contractions and also pushing from an all fours position. Once the epidural comes, the numbness from the waist down makes it impossible to kneel; but this pose helps prepare for giving birth however you decide to deliver. Cat/Cow strengthens the pelvic floor region and opens up the lower back, hips, waist and shoulder region. It’s also a great way to sync the breath to the movement and it feels like a gentle massage for the spine.
Start on hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale and arch your back as you open up your chest and lift your hips up to the ceiling. Exhale, round your spine and tuck your chin to your chest as you hug your baby closer to your spine and contract the pelvic floor muscles. Continue arching and rounding for 5 to 8 breaths.
High Lunge—High lunge is a great pose to help build stamina and strength for labor. Lunges require the leg muscles to work hard to support us. Lunges also work our abs, buttocks and hips, all areas that will need to be strong to push the little one out. Labor and delivery are taxing on the body and the more physically fit we are, the easier it will be to endure the process.
Start standing at the front of your mat, place your hands on your hips, and lunge back with your left leg. Make sure your stance is as long as one of your own leg’s lengths. Once you feel steady, lift your arms up alongside your ears with the palms facing towards each other. Press firmly through the back leg and lunge deeply in the front leg (without letting the knee go past the ankle). Stay and breath 5 to 8 breaths before stepping forward and repeating on the opposite side.
Sumo Yogi Squat—This is one of my favorite poses for feeling strong and confident in my body. I feel like a yogi momma preparing my legs, hips, inner thighs, pelvic floor and abdominals for the birthing process. Sumo Yogi Squat really taps into all of the muscles that we need for stamina, strength, support and pushing. Also, holding this pose and learning how to breath through the pain and discomfort that can arise, is great practice for breathing through labor and delivery.
Stand sideways on your mat with your legs slightly wider than hip width apart. Turn your toes out, press your hands in prayer in front of your chest, and lower down in to a squat. Keep engaging your external rotators and buttocks to open the knees out to their own sides. Press firmly in to the feet, and contract the legs, hips, buttocks and abdominals. Hold 8-10 breaths then come back up to stand. Repeat 2 to 3 more times.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!