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: 21 Weeks

Its a Girl!
Twenty-one weeks pregnant and we got a routine ultrasound done this week.  I can’t even begin to explain how incredible that experience was.  I’ve seen pictures of other people’s ultrasounds, but they are always grainy and hard to see.  The real- time experience is so much better.  We could see her move and even see the wrinkles in the skin on the soles of her feet. She was sitting cross-legged at the beginning, with her hands above her head.  We watched her rubbing her face and even pulling on one thumb.  She was kicking and moving and stretching out her legs.  Then, I kid you not, she took one leg and pulled it up to her face and sat there like she was doing head-to-knee pose.  She had one hand wrapped around the back of her thigh and the other rubbing her head.  It’s hard to believe that my own hips were that flexible once.  The lab technician said I was lucky that I couldn’t feel all of her movements or I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.

To date, I’ve only gained five pounds.  The baby’s measurements were great on the ultrasound.  She’s gaining weight, there’s plenty of amniotic fluid, my fundus is at 21 centimeters (right on track) so there’s nothing to worry about.  I’ve really done well supplementing the calories I burn while taking class.  What I hadn’t thought about is replacing the calories I burn while teaching.  In addition to a pregnant woman’s metabolism, I’m also trying to stay cool, walk around and yak for 90 minutes at a time one or two times a day.  I don’t have any numbers on amount of calories burned teaching, but I’d be willing to guess it’s around 200.

Pregnancy Blog: 19 Weeks

Mount Major
I hiked Mount Major this weekend and I was surprised at how hard it was.  I had a hard time catching my breath and had to stop about 10 times to rest.  Mt. Major is a hike that I would rip off in 40 minutes or less without needing a break except maybe to slug a little water just a few months ago.

At about eight weeks, I hiked Mount Monadnock and thought I was going to die.  I was shocked at feeling so out of control of my physical fitness.  I quickly I lost my breath and had to stop and rest over and over again.  I felt light headed and breathless within five minutes of hiking.

I had expected, at eight weeks, to feel all of those things. It makes physiological sense.  In the first trimester, it is normal for a pregnant woman to get lightheaded easily because blood pressure can be low as the body is trying to make up an additional two liters of blood to supply the growing uterine muscle, additional blood vessels and the baby.  I had guessed that this far into my second trimester that things would be a lot easier.

My midwife says that it is completely normal.  Even though my body has completed the needed two extra liters of blood and my blood pressure is back up to normal, there is still an increased demand for oxygen from the fetus and seven liters (instead of five) of blood to oxygenate.  It all makes sense, but I was not expecting it.

Pregnancy Blog: 16 Weeks

Someone told me this week that they were glad to hear I was pregnant because they thought I had just been eating too much ice cream.  More students have figured it out or are passing the news on. I feel like I get more energy every single day.  It feels so good not to feel bad that I am ecstatic.  I’ve felt a little rolling and pressure in my abdomen, but no concrete kicks yet.  I do, however, have regular Braxton-Hicks contractions.  I notice after I lie down from a backbend that my uterus gets firm and bulges up.  It was surprising at first, but my midwife says it’s a normal reaction to exercise and activity and it all serves to make my uterine muscle stronger for childbirth.

The pregnancy modifications feel really good.  The only thing I miss in the release in my upper back that you get from Rabbit and Head-to-Knee.  The Cat/Cow in place of Rabbit is a fair substitute, but in no way as deep a stretch.

I am surprised, but already my belly is in the way in Spine Twisting.  Even with my lower leg extended, I can still feel too much compression in my lower abdomen.  I have had to start twisting in the opposite direction (open).  Most of the twist happens in my mid-back and upper back.

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!