Pregnancy Blog: 34 Weeks

Yes, I’m still practicing

I can’t tell you how many people have asked me that question. I can’t imagine going through a pregnancy without yoga. It has helped me adapt to my ever-changing body and gets 100% credit for getting a former back pain-sufferer through pregnancy with zero back pain.

It feels good.  My hips have definitely gotten tighter during the third trimester so it feels good to get in that hot room and stretch.  My new best buddy is Pranayama.  I’ve started doing it every morning when I wake up.  It gets me alert much faster and reminds my body how to breathe deeply.  I can finally get my lungs off the baby and take a deep breath.  I feel for women who haven’t practiced Pranayama-type breathing because as this baby gets bigger, I have to breathe into my chest.  There just isn’t any more room in my abdomen for my diaphragm.

We talked with our midwife a few weeks ago about birthing classes.  She said, “To be honest, everything you learn in a birthing class, you already practice every day in yoga.”  Staying focused and calm through challenging moments, rhythmic, slow breathing, endurance, meditation, etc.  The only thing she recommended was a hospital tour.

It’s amazing to me how many woman have said to me that I should keep in mind getting an epidural.  When I’ve said I was interested in natural childbirth, I’d say 75 percent of women have told me that’s crazy and to be ready to take the drugs or there’s no reason to feel the pain, etc.  It’s pretty incredible that that has become the absolute norm in our country and at the same time we have complications rates similar to most third world countries.  We’ll see.  I’ve never done this before, but I have to believe that positive thinking and faith in myself can only help.

I think the hardest part now is waiting.  Maybe that’s been the hardest part all along.  I can remember at 16 weeks, thinking that at 32 weeks I’d almost be done.  Now, here I am at 34 weeks and the end seems so far away.  It’s like waiting for Christmas morning for eight months.

Advertisements

Pregnancy Blog: 30 Weeks

Relaxin

Now it’s all making sense.  So much that I had read about pregnancy and relaxin is finally happening in my body. Relaxin is the hormone that softens a woman’s ligaments so that the pelvis is more malleable and can accommodate magnificence of the human head at birth.

A lot of the postures that we teach students to modify in the pregnancy series I haven’t had to modify (except to accommodate my belly) at all until now.  It seems like in a week, my whole pelvis has changed.  I went from comfortable doing Toe Stand on Friday to “what am I thinking?” on Sunday.  I can see why they say to avoid excess pressure to the perineum and symphysis pubis.  It feels like my symphysis is going to crack open if I put too much pressure on it.  Now I know why they encourage you to do Kegels from the beginning.

I can really feel the effects of the softening in my ligaments.  In straddle splits, there is a point where my muscles are no longer stretching and I can feel I am just pulling on my ligaments.  It actually feels like my ilium are spreading away from my sacrum when I fold too far forward in it.  When I pushed it too far, I felt like I’d been riding a horse too long for the rest of the day.  I’ve noticed, too, when I do Forearmstand, that I have INCREDIBLE stretching across my abdomen that just doesn’t feel right.  I just don’t feel in control.  I am sure some of that has to do with the lengthening of my rectus abdominus…it just doesn’t contract like it used to…

It really is inappropriate for any pregnant woman to do Toe Stand and deep straddle splits during pregnancy. It may feel okay in the beginning, but contributes to instability in the ligaments that stabilize your entire body and can lead to long-term problems with the sacroiliac joints. I have always been very strong and was very pig-headed about dialing back my practice. Although it feels never-ending at times, pregnancy is a tiny period of your life. You’ll get back to all of your favorite poses before you know it.

Other than that, I am really just in the grow-the-baby stage.  She’s gaining weight and getting bigger, kicking up a storm.  She loves hot chocolate.  Some times it looks like an alien is rolling over under my skin.  I wish I could see what she’s doing in there.

Pregnancy Blog: 26 Weeks

Cruising Altitude

Things are pretty uneventful lately.  I feel good, the yoga feels good, I have plenty of energy and a good appetite.  Things are right on track.  She’s a good size and developing well.  She has gotten incredibly active.  I used to feel her just at night or very quiet times during the day.  Now I feel her kicking and rolling all day long, especially during class and after backbends.  She used to be quiet the whole time I was teaching, now she’s kicking me while I’m talking.  The one part of class that completely mellows her is Kapalbhati.  I don’t know if its the motion or the rhythmic squeezing, but I don’t hear a peep from her for about an hour after we’re done.  Even when I am just demonstrating or joining the group while I’m teaching.

Her favorite place to plant a kick is right in my liver.  I am happy, though, that she’s on that side because if she were reversed, I’d be seeing my lunch again as she jabbed me in my stomach.

Pregnancy Blog: End of First Trimester

13 Weeks
I can see the light, I swear.  I woke up this morning and didn’t have a headache for the first time in weeks.  I’ve been having these headaches that I can feel even when I am sleeping.  I have a little more energy and am not completely repulsed when I think about spinach. I have to pass on the best morning sickness trick I learned.  One woman recommended to me to try eating a half a granola bar or other power-packed snack the last time you get up to pee in the middle of the night.  It was definitely a lifesaver.  I was still nauseated in the morning, but not so bad that I couldn’t eat.

Class is feeling better.  I am now making it to 3-4 classes per week.  I’ve got a little paunch coming, but most people have no idea.  This week I’ll start doing the pregnancy modifications, so the cat will be out of the bag.  Several students (other moms) have already guessed because of my rapidly expanding bust!  The earliest, most-observant guesser had me pegged at 7 weeks.  Pretty good detective work.

The baby is growing as expected.  Heart rate is still strong at 160 bpm.  Seriously, this first trimester felt like 9 months in itself.  I am glad to be able to share the news and joyfully anticipating getting a big belly!

Pregnancy Blog: 9 Weeks

9 Weeks Pregnant
Holy nausea!  I’ve never had a queasy stomach or an easy gag reflex.  Now, just being alive makes me want to barf.  I was in the grocery store the other day and had to avert my eyes as I walked by the vegetable section.  I could feel the purple cabbage staring at me.

As for the yoga, I am down to practicing 2-3 times a week (from 5-7 classes/week).  I am just too tired.  The postures feel good, but I am exhausted.  It’s always a battle between go-to-class and take-a-nap.  I’ve taken to walking the other days of the week.  I must admit that I always feel better after I exercise.   I’m starting to think I may feel better if I get back to a daily practice.  Even just getting outside and starting to walk helps to ease the nausea.  The days that I’ve tried just staying home and taking a nap, I feel like garbage by 5 pm.  Plus, the pregnancy is still under wraps.  I had to sit out of a couple of postures in class the other day and everyone was asking what was wrong and was I sick.

Now I know first-hand why we don’t recommend starting a Bikram practice in the first trimester.  It’s too much to add on to all of the physical and hormonal changes.  A woman who wrote one of my pregnancy books calls morning sickness Progesterone Poisoning.  I think anyone who started at this time in the pregnancy would be scared away, not because of the yoga, but because your body feels horrible at this stage.

The best part of class are the backbends.  My stomach is in knots all day from the nausea, and getting to stretch my abdomen and release all of that tension feels great.  I could sleep in Savasana at the end for about a half an hour.

The one posture I have been enjoying the most is Standing Head-to-Knee.  I am gobbling up as much of it as I can get because I know that in a few weeks I won’t be able to do it again for a long time.

It’s been a big learning experience to have to sit down or even leave the room after this long practicing.  It’s given me a good reminder of what it feels like to be new to the practice.  There are times that I feel tired and think, I can’t hold Awkward the whole time.  Then I think, I have the muscle strength to do this and I realize how mental so much of this class can be.

We heard the heartbeat this week for the first time.  What an awesome experience!  Now I really don’t care who finds out I am pregnant.  I know there’s a baby in there that’s alive and kicking.  It was 170 beats per minute.  It should slow to 110 bpm by the birth.

Can You Practice Hot Yoga During Pregnancy?

My First Post: Pregnancy Blog 5 Weeks
Naturally, many pregnant women have concerns about hot yoga during pregnancy.  Beginning at five weeks of pregnancy in 2006, I wrote this blog to be of assistance in helping you to make educated decisions about exercise during yours.

At the studio, we’ve had several women in low-risk pregnancies have their doctors tell them that they could not practice hot yoga while pregnant, with little information on the classes.  Please take the concerns of your physician or midwife seriously.  Women with high-risk pregnancies must first obtain a doctor’s note to participate in classes at Blaze Yoga and Pilates.

Many doctors, however, incorrectly assume that practicing in a hot room is akin to being in a sauna or Jacuzzi and that is where their concern develops.  Both a sauna and a Jacuzzi are much hotter than a standard hot yoga class.  The biggest difference is the inability for the body to cool itself when in a sauna or Jacuzzi.  Sweat (evapotranspiration) and moving air (convection) are the cooling mechanisms for a practicing yogi.  Neither of these are existent in a Jacuzzi and only one (sweat) in a sauna where the air is heated up to 40 degrees hotter than a Bikram Yoga or Inferno Hot Pilates class.

Studies conducted in Los Angeles (with non-pregnant students) and Northampton, Massachusetts (with pregnant students only) have found that temperature change in a hot yogi is negligible during class (average 0.6 degree temperature change).  Most physicians recommend that a pregnant woman keep her temperature below 102 degrees; this is well-below that range.  Please note that exercising outdoors in the summer increases the internal temperature nearly twice that much.

As a healthy woman with a low-risk pregnancy, neither the yoga nor the heat should be cause for fear.  With that in mind, you should NEVER practice hot yoga pregnant without first informing and consulting with your teacher.  There are modifications to all postures that compress the abdomen, aorta, and diaphragm or exert too much pressure on the perineum and pelvis.

Armed with the correct modifications for pregnancy, the next concerns of a pregnant woman should be nutrition, hydration and exhaustion.  The average woman burns approximately 330 calories during a 90-minute hot yoga class.  A pregnant woman’s metabolism is much higher, so she may burn even more.  Be sure to eat high quality meals to replace the lost calories and minerals.  It is also advisable for the pregnant woman to eat a small, easy-to-digest snack about an hour prior to class.

Proper hydration is critical during gestation to maintain amniotic fluid levels, increase blood volume and ensure proper function of the kidneys.  Be sure to drink water before, during and after class.  At least an additional liter of water per day is recommended when practicing.  Stop and sip water during class whenever you need it.

Finally, listen carefully to your body regarding your limits.  Especially in the first trimester, you may find yourself more tired or lose control of your breath more easily.  Listen to the signs to slow down and do so immediately.  Don’t be surprised if your practice changes dramatically in the first trimester even though your belly is still small.  There are an incredible amount of changes occurring (increase in uterine muscle, development of an additional two liters of blood, roller coaster hormone changes and more) in the first twelve weeks.  Sit down, take a break, have a drink or even leave the room when you need.

Sara CurryBella Sara Headstand owns and operates Blaze Yoga and Pilates in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with her husband, Jaylon. They live in Southern Maine with their two children, pictured right. Sara practiced yoga throughout both of her pregnancies. In fact, her second child was born just eight hours after this picture was snapped!

sara