Yoga Music for Labor – 10 Songs I Prepared (But Never Got To Use!)

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Although I had planned on it, I didn’t actually get around to listening to music during my 2 labors, even if I had prepared some for both occasions. The first time around, the labor was so intense from the get-go with contractions every 1-3 minutes, that I didn’t even think of the idea of having music playing. All I needed and wanted was silence, and the reassuring presences of my midwife and partner around me.

And my second labor went so fast that by the time we made it to the birthing center, my baby girl was already in my arms within a few minutes.. bliss. 🙂

But I would have loved to experience the soothing effects of music while laboring.

Relaxation during labor can help to lessen the sensations of pain, as well as create a climate of safety and trust, which in turn helps the body and mind to relax and let go.

It is even recommended to try dancing during labor. I did not get around to that one. LOL. But if you are able to, dancing, alone or with your partner during labor, can help us connect to the joyous nature of pregnancy and birth, create mobility in the body and help to relieve stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins into the body (the powerful pain-relieving and pleasure-enhancing hormone that our bodies produce during labor to help mediate the pain of contractions).

Here are 10 pieces of music that I would have liked to have included into my labors. There are no words, just sounds and melodies.

Note: Some of these are also pieces that I love to use while teaching or practicing yoga.

 

#1: Bija: Soothing Music and Mantras

One of my classics! For yoga practice, as well as for moments of relaxation. (Sample)

 

#2: Spiegel im Spiegel for violin and piano

This is one of my all-time favorite pieces, it is just so, so gentle. I love to use it for Savasana. It is a bit nostalgic though, so I don’t know how I would’ve actually enjoyed it during labor, but it was top of the list! (Sample)

 

 

#3: Shivaratri: Mantra for Yoga Class

I find this piece so appeasing, as it brings me calm and focus, and a feeling of release. (Sample)

 

 

#4: Childbirth Music (2)

From this series are very beautiful piano pieces that I simply enjoy. (Sample)

 

#5: Calm Pregnancy Music Academy

This piece has piano and water sounds which I’m not usually a fan of, but that managed to soothe me. (Sample)

 

#6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSXc-a_AH2k

This is a funny one to include, but it’s the music from this birth affirmations video by Indigo Midwifery that I mention in a few posts, which I used during my second pregnancy in preparation for labor and that was so helpful for me. And you’ll find beautiful birth affirmations too! (Sample)

 

#7: Serene Morning

This is another funny and random one that I’m almost embarrassed to include: it’s the alarm tone from my phone called “Serene Morning”. I found it so soothing to hear every morning during my second pregnancy, and it somehow made me feel so calm, that even though it only lasts 23 seconds, I actually prepared the link in loop mode and kept the page open days in advance before my second delivery, ready to play when the time came. Again, it all went so fast that I didn’t get the chance to use it, but would have loved to! (The link provided here is actually a version that is already looped for 10 minutes 🙂 ) (Sample)

 

#8: Anti Stress Music for Labor, Delivery & Baby

Gentle piano, with some ocean wave sounds – again, not usually my thing, but in this case works for me 🙂 (Sample)

 

#9: Eternal OM

This is another one of my favorites for yoga class, especially for Savasana. It is about an hour of an ongoing om, calms and centers the mind. I think it would have been a nice tool to help me remain focused during labor. (Sample)

 

#10: Heart Sutra

I just love this piece. You may well be familiar with music by Wah! from yoga classes, she has so much beautiful music to discover. This song actually does soften my heart 🙂 Without a doubt my favorite piece by her. (Sample)

 

I would love to know if you got a chance to listen to your favorite music during labor, and if it was helpful for you or if you have any other recommendations. Please feel free to comment below!


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


More from 10ThingsYogaMama:

10 Late-Pregnancy Yoga-Inspired Exercises

Find some comfort and prepare the body and mind for birth with these prenatal yoga exercises.


Sunflower Seed Veggie Pâté in 4 Easy Steps

One of my all-time favorite recipes! An awesome and healthy snack for both prenatal and postnatal mamas. LOVE THIS!


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using these links. Your price doesn’t change but this commission helps support this site. Thank you!

12 Birth Affirmations That Gave Me Strength

Because sometimes words, spoken or thought, have the power to carry us through one contraction after another, and even childbirth itself, positive birth affirmations truly can play an inspiring and invaluable role during labor and delivery.

After my first labor, I realized the importance that encouraging words had played in helping me to cope and stay focused during birth. Bringing me “into” myself, they allowed me to let go of tension and fear, and to just let the amazing birthing process occur…

..What wonder!..

When it was time to prepare for my second labor, I remembered and noted the words and phrases that had made a difference for me during my first labor, and I also sat down to find some other words that seemed meaningful and might help me get by, this second time around.

Here are some of the encouraging, empowering, or just plain and simple words that I thought or heard during my two labors, and that gave me strength.

#1: THIS PAIN IS SO POWERFUL, BUT I CAN HANDLE IT

Telling myself that I could handle it… helped me to handle it! Kind of like an auto-suggestion to convince myself of my capacities, I find this affirmation is similar to one I discovered recently, the: “You can do anything for 1 minute” birth affirmation…  so true! I was unfortunately unaware of this one before the time came, as I am sure it could have come in handy. 🙂

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#2: I ACCEPT THIS PAIN TO WELCOME MY BABY INTO THE WORLD

Giving meaning to the pain helped me to make sense out of the intensity of the contractions, which could at times seem overwhelming. For example, as we drove to the birthing center, my contractions were getting to be quite strong. At one point, we passed by my son’s daycare, which led me to see his beautiful face in my mind, and say to myself : “This is what this is for”.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#3: ONE CONTRACTION AT A TIME, AND AT THE END OF ALL THIS, I’LL HAVE MY LITTLE PEANUT

This phrase was emailed to me by my friend in the week preceding my second delivery. It somehow stuck in my head, and made so much sense during my labor, and was the one phrase that helped me through the few contractions while my partner ran downstairs to drop our son off with the neighbors.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

On an uber cute note, here is the most adorable post with dozens of variations on the theme of the cutiepie nicknames we give to our little balls of treasure love..worth the read! 😉

www.littleheartsbooks.com/2012/10/19/300-nicknames-for-your-babykins-doodlebug-snugglebunny/

 

#4: ” … “

Sometimes silence, with no words or thoughts is what we need to create that deep connection with what is occurring now, in the present moment, and in the case of childbirth, to the infinitely wonderous event that is taking place, as our body labors and opens to give birth to our baby.

You can even ask those around you to encourage you to stay in your “bubble”.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

 

#5: I AM DOING A FANTASTIC JOB

Labor can feel like an Olympic Marathon. We need encouragements! I never imagined they could be so welcome until the surge of strength I experienced when support staff cheered me on.

..can be replaced that with “Wonderful” or “Amazing”, or whatever fits for you..

These encouragements can also come from your partner, or the people accompanying you.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#6: HERE COMES ANOTHER WAVE, I CAN RIDE IT.

Being aware of the passing nature of the contraction helped me cope with one at a time. Knowing that although so intense, these waves rise and fall, they come and go, they rise and fall, they come and go..

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#7: EVERYTHING IS GOING WELL

During my first labor, the contractions felt so powerful and painful, and I realized after some time, that I was scared..that it could not be “normal” that it hurt this much. When I was finally told by my midwife that I was doing a good job and that everything was going well, this changed my frame of mind. And I know that my body heard the message. I started to labor more freely, more intuitively, and with more trust!

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#8: YES

I mention this story a few times in other posts,  as it was a truly pivotal moment during my first labor. Simply resumed, during my first labor, the ongoing pain of the contractions was such that I began me to greet every new surge with a “No.. no, no no…” At this point, my midwife gently proposed “See if you can say yes, instead”. Although not what I felt like saying, I did, and my body received the message and began “opening” and letting go, and labor progressed.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#9: MY PELVIS IS RELEASING AND OPENING

..my pelvis is releasing and opening to let my baby come through the passage.. These words, so simply in tune and anchored in the present moment and physical body, again, were some of the words that made such sense as I experienced childbirth.

 

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#10: I CAN BREATHE THROUGH THIS CONTRACTION

It sometimes felt like I just couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to cope with another contraction. Knowing, being confident that I could breathe through one more, and again one more, was a powerful coping mechanism for me. I practiced these belly breathing exercises throughout pregnancy in preparation for labor.

 

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#11: I RELAX AND RELEASE MY BODY, AS BEST I CAN

Something prenatal yoga helps with so much, the ability to relax and release what we can, even with feelings of pain within the body. It is often also said during labor, relaxed jaw, relaxed cervix. (Relaxing the region of the mouth actually has the effect of relaxing the rest of the body).

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

#12: I AM SO CONNECTED TO LIFE RIGHT NOW

This may sound unbelievable, but I remember the pain of labor with fondness, as something blissful,  as it was preparing me to meet with my babies. The incredible list of labor hormones has something to do with this, of course ;), as the sensations going through my body in such in an intense way, was like being directly plugged into life itself.

12 Positive Birth Affirmations

 

 

If you have a planned c-section, or are interested in birth affirmations for any birth, I found these ones posted by Beautiful In His Time  and made by Kaya Edwards, birth doula very beautiful and soothing.

personal birth aff

 

heart1

 

Are you wondering about birth preparation?

I’ve put together a Birth Preparation eBook with the resources and exercises that were the most useful in both of my birthing experiences in helping me to prepare for labor in view of natural childbirth. (Note: this is a pay what you want e-book, which means you choose your price)

INCLUDES:
• 25 Ways to Prepare for Labor Physically and Mentally
• Pain Management Techniques
• Relaxation Exercises
• Mental Preparation Tips

+ ADDED SECTIONS:

• 5 Breathing Exercises
• 6 Kegel Exercises
• Perineum Massage 10-step Guide
• Good Posture 10 Tips Checklist
• 11 Printable Birth Affirmations
• Sample Week Schedule
• Birth Ritual Ideas

 


aboutbw2 Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


11 Natural Ways To Manage Pregnancy-Induced Eczema

I suffered from pregnancy-induced eczema during both of my pregnancies. It was a painful and maddening experience, with flare-ups so intense it was hard to think about anything else, and even sleep. I remember crying out of frustration on more than one occasion, not knowing what to do about the relentless urges to scratch and scratch some more. 🙁 This is probably what I found the most difficult about both of my pregnancies.

During these weeks of my life, I did a lot reading, and I tried many different tips and options looking for natural ways to manage pregnancy-induced eczema.

I had flare-ups on my hands, belly and legs. Not everything I tried was successful, as finding solutions to eczema is indeed such a personal journey, but here is the list of things that did help me to find some peace, appease the flares-ups, and allow me to enjoy the beautiful life growing in my belly!

Yay!

If you are presently experiencing pregnancy-induced eczema, I send you my sincere love. Please know that this too shall pass. Now that I’ve had my baby, the flare-ups have once again subsided, if this can be of any encouragement. 🙂

11 Natural Ways To Manage Pregnancy-Induced Eczema

 

11 Natural Ways To Manage Pregnancy-Induced Eczema

#1: WATER!

This is probably the number one tip I would recommend for pregnancy eczema. Staying hydrated can calm flare-ups by helping to maintain proper functioning of our body, and it promotes overall well-being. Water also helps us to absorb nutrients, which in turn make their way to baby. So as a mama-to-be, it can be very calming to know that we’re also taking care of our baby.

Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water each day. One of my tricks was to keep the water jug out at all times, in view and ready for a pour!

Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water each day

Note: Mineral water was particularly helpful for me, which I included as part of my daily habits. The minerals in the water have been shown to participate in the reduction of flare-ups.

 

#2: KEEP THE AREA DRY

This is definitely one that goes both ways. Some recommend keeping the eczema-prone skin fully and continually moisturized, while others recommend the opposite. In my experience, it was very helpful to keep the eczema-prone areas dry, as bone. I had eczema on my hands, so I wore cotton-lined gloves for all household tasks (not just the dishes, but cleaning, so as not to get the skin damp with cloth),  and made sure to properly dry my hands after washing them.

Keep the eczema-prone areas dry (I wore gloves for all household chores)

 

#3: RUB INSTEAD OF SCRATCHING

This was a very helpful tip for me. When you really must give the area a scratch, try “scratching” your eczema with your finger pads or with a cloth instead of your nails, so more like a rub. This helps to avoid making the rash worse, or bleed, thus preventing the “itch-scratch” cycle to go on, which can in return actually allow for the skin to heal (thus making the eczema not as bad!).

Rub instead of scratching, with finger pads or a cloth

 

 

#4: E-CREAM

This cream saved my sanity! I discovered it by chance in a natural products store and it ended up being a savior for me. I had been looking for non-chemical, non-cortisone creams, safe for pregnancy, and had tried so many different ones. The worker there had me try some, it was green (!)  and so soothing.. I couldn’t quite believe it, but this actually turned out to be a bit of a miracle cream for me, as it did not fail to help me find some peace in moments of extremely itchy eczema. I still use it now, for my son’s winter cheeks:) I feel such gratitude for this cream as it has been such a friend. (where to find)

My loved E-Cream

#5: WEAR GENTLE LOOSE COTTONS

I felt like the Princess and the Pea, but I was able to tell when my clothes were not made of 100% cotton (!). It’s as if the fibers “stuck out” and into my skin, and started an itch. When I realized this, my wardrobe dramatically down-sized to but a few precious articles: loose baggy pyjama-type pants, and a few loose white cotton tops..,   which I wore in rotation for the last weeks of my pregnancy.  (Bless my guy for finding me lovely in the same clothes every day!).

Wear gentle loose cottons

 

#6: BELLY BREATHING

Deep belly breathing calms the nervous system and helps to relieve tension in the mind and body, which can in turn begin to appease the itching sensations of eczema. Find a moment during the day to sit or lay, or to take a pause from what you are doing to practice belly breathing. Here are 4 belly breathing exercises you can begin with.

Belly Breathing

Note: I find that in bed when waking up is a great time to practice breathing exercises, and a gentle way to start the day. 🙂

Note 2:This is also a wonderful tool in preparation for birth.

Note 3: Bring your attention to the breath to practice breath awareness meditation at the same time.

 

#7: OMEGA-3’S

Recommended to me by a naturopath, taking Omega-3’s (or fish oils) may help by reducing an inflammatory substance in the body that plays a role in eczema flare-ups. It has to be taken for at least 3 months to notice the effects though! So this one may not be for you if you’re already nearing your due date, but if not, this can be worth the try. It was nothing dramatic in my case, but I did notice a change in the feel of my skin, as if it felt “healthier” and a bit less sensitive.

Omega-3’s (or fish oils)

 

#8: YOGA

Prenatal Yoga

Note: Sweat can be a contributing factor to flare-ups, so wash and dry the skin if you break a sweat.

 

#9: VISUALIZATION / RELAXATION

This exercise can help to calm the nervous system, which can in turn help to soothe inflammation.

Find a comfortable position, lying down in a reclined position or on your left side:

Visualization

1. Close the eyes
2. Practice 1-3 minutes of belly breathing
3. Take a moment to relax the entire body: head and face, shoulders and arms, torso, hips, legs and feet (and toes 🙂 )
4. Then bring your attention to the places where you feel the burning or itching sensations, for example, the hands
5. Imagine that the hands are softening, almost melting, following the breath:

Inhale to the “Hands”
Exhale imagine them “Melting”

Inhale, “Hands”
Exhale, “Melting”

6. Repeat for 5-10 breaths
7. Repeat this visualization with the other flare-up areas.

 

#10: CONSIDER CHANGING DETERGENTS

Commercial laundry detergents can be harsh on the skin or allergen, which can participate in the flares-ups. Look for natural, dye-free laundry detergents instead, which can also benefit the entire family.

Look for natural, dye-free laundry detergents

 

#11: EPSOM SALT BATH

My grandmother is from England (as are Epsom salts), and she has always recommended Epsom salt baths to me for a variety of ailments such as soar feet, cold symptoms and to get the circulation going. I’ve grown to love Epsom salts dearly, I guess it kind of feels like I’m being taken care of by my grandmother when I use them. 🙂 In any case, Epsom salt baths, rich in magnesium, can be soothing, and help to reduce dryness or flaking. These baths also promote relaxation.. which may also be why I found them so helpful in appeasing the flare-ups.

Epsom salt bath

Note: Some recommend to avoid soaking, so see how this fares for you. To be taken with a grain of salt 😉

 

These may already be things that you have tried out, in which case, I wish I could have helped more! If not, I do hope these tips are helpful and allow you to find some peace.

I would love to hear of which tips were helpful for you! Please feel free to share in the comment section below.

In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful time with your growing belly! xo

heart1


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using them. Your price doesn’t change but this commission goes to supporting this site (and to getting more E-Cream). Thank you!

MY LOVED E-CREAM!

Made by Skin Essence, some of the ingredients include: Gotu Kola extract, White Kaolin Clay and Blue Chamomile Oil, all organic. It takes 2-3 minutes for it to start working.

I used it in the morning and night, but also at any other time of the day when the flare-ups were just too intense. I had a jar that I carried around with me everywhere, lol.

I went to the extent of contacting the company with my enthusiasm, and they are extending a 15% discount to 10ThingsYogaMama readers.

Find it here
You can use promo code YOGAMAMA for 15% discount:

This is what it really looks like 🙂

Use promo code “YOGAMAMA”

As mentioned, I also use this cream on my son’s winter cheeks, and it can be used as a sunblock, and even a diaper rash cream. I have also offered this cream as a present to some of the cherished women in my life. One might say this cream made an impact on my life.

I love this cream. I love this cream!!!

I know that the same thing doesn’t work for everybody, but if this does end up helping you, I am so happy to have spread the good word. (And I would love to hear if it was helpful for you!)

 

I wish you all the best on your journey, and mostly, some peace.




 

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor (Physically and Mentally) – Part 2

*Adjust your price in the “Amount” box.

Labor is a mysterious and profound experience, usually ranging somewhere on the “marathon” scale from hours to days in length (although some labors will actually end up being quite short. I know of a couple who named their daughter “Octavia”, as labor lasted 8… minutes !).

In general however, preparing for labor, means preparing for a sort of marathon by building physical and mental endurance, and by giving ourselves resources and tools, almost like a toolbox, that we can come back to when the time comes, to help us cope with the intense and awe-inspiring event that is childbirth.

As our bodies progress through the birthing experience, much of our rational brain “turns off”, and some of the most important tools available to us become:

1. BREATHING
2. MOVEMENT
3. BODY AWARENESS

I’ve rounded up what ended up being the 25 most useful resources in both of my birthing experiences in helping me to develop this awareness in preparation for labor.

Often times, the welcomed side-effect of these exercises is to make pregnancy a bit more “comfortable”, too !

*There are many proven techniques that you can also look into and study, such as HypnoBirthing, Lamaze, The Bradley Method, Bonapace Method and Alexander Technique to name a few. Also, having a doula at your side can play an important role when it comes to pain management.
* As always, please consult with a licensed physician before beginning any new exercise program. The exercises and suggestions provided here are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation.

(.. continued from Part 1)

#13: WALKING

Why:
– Without a doubt, walking is one of the best ways to build physical and mental stamina in preparation for labor.
Activates circulation.
Tones the muscles.
– Can help to reduce swelling in the legs.
– Allows us to breathe fresh air, oxygenating the muscles.
– Helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Energizes the body and mind.
– Can encourage the progression of labor.

Walking in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– If you have no contraindications from your doctor or midwife, you can aim for a 10-60 minute (or 2 to 6 km) walk every day (or just about), all the way until the end of pregnancy.
– Find a pace that is suitable for you.
– If you’re not used to walking, start with shorter walks, gradually lengthening over time.
Here are 10 exercises you can do while walking, for maintaining a healthy posture.
For tension relief, this is a simple meditation exercise, called a “walking meditation.”
Useful tips to add steps to your day include: parking the car further away, wearing comfortable shoes, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, etc.

 

#14: PRACTICE SAYING “YES”

Why:
– This personal point ended up being one the more useful tools in my mental preparation.
During my first labor, I started to become tired of the pain and continuous flow of contractions which had been coming on every 1-3 minutes for about 12 hours, and I began to lose my capacity to deal.
– When a new contraction, or « wave » would come in, I started to say “No no no no ….”
at which point my midwife made her way to my side and gently proposed: “See if you can say yes, instead”.. (so this was obviously not what I felt like saying 🙂 , but I did it), and low and behold my body started to let go, and I entered the pushing phase not long after.
Saying « yes », the word, seemed to send a yes message of receptivity, release and opening to my body, even if not on a conscious level.
– I was then more able to allow the contractions to happen, instead of pushing them away.

Saying yes preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
During your daily routine or while exercising, see how it feels to welcome the sensations that arise in your body with a “yes” as best you can, creating a feeling of release, even surrender to that which is occurring in your body at that time.
– This can also be used during labor, allowing the contractions to happen without looking to avoid, change or push them away, simply, « yesingly » letting them happen.

 

#15: REST

Why:
– Resting the body, especially during late-pregnancy, is just as important as activating and mobilizing it.
Restores energy
– A rested body will have more energy for labor.
A self-care practice, where mama takes care of mama, vital during pregnancy, and motherhood 🙂 .

Rest in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– When possible, find a moment during the day to lay your body down.
– The most comfortable positions in late-pregnancy will likely be on your left side, or in a reclined position. (Use as many pillows as needed to prop your knee(s), head, etc.)
– As you rest your body, imagine that you are “recharging your batteries”, a wonderful image that can help give meaning and peacefulness to your rest.

 

#16: KEGELS

Why:
Tone the pelvic floor muscles.
Create elasticity in the tissues and muscles of the pelvic floor.
– Promote pelvic floor awareness.
Teach us to relax and release the perineum. When baby makes their way through the birth canal, the pelvic floor muscles and tissues are stretched. Relaxing these muscles as best we can will help to create the space and release for baby’s passage (into our arms!).
A way to stay in tune with our body during labor.

– Can help prevent incontinence.
– Part of postnatal rehabilitation.

Kegels in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

 

How to:
Here are 6 Kegel exercises you can practice throughout pregnancy to develop this awareness and tone.
– As you practice relaxing the pelvic floor, (Kegel Exercise #6), try incorporating the following imagery, specifically in preparation for birth:

As you breathe, close the eyes and imagine that on each exhale, you are breathing gently “downwards” towards your vagina, as a way to become aware of this part of your body and to learn how to relax and release it. You can even say to yourself: “I am preparing the passage for my baby.”

Note: Do not practice pushing!

 

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#17: WHAT IS A CONTRACTION?

Why:
– Learning what a contraction does, can help to “work with” it.

What is a contraction - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How:
(in layman’s terms:)
– The uterus is an incredibly strong muscular organ that can expand during pregnancy from around the size of a closed fist to become large enough to hold a full term baby.
– A contraction is an awe-inspiring co-action of the uterus:

While the top of the uterus tightens and thickens,
the bottom (or cervix) relaxes and stretches
to help baby through into the birth canal for delivery.

– Contractions start in response to the release of oxytocin (“love” hormone produced by our brain).
– Isn’t it just so amazing? I am eternally in awe of the human body.
– From there, encouraging this action through words or thoughts, may help us feel like we can work with our body.
– Here are some example phrases that can help to visualize this action:

Each contraction helps soften and open my cervix
for the passage of my baby.

I abandon myself to this contraction.
Each contraction is helping my baby get closer to my arms.

– For more information on the fascinating cocktail of hormones we produce during childbirth, here is a clear and beautifully written overview of Labor Hormones by Mama Glow.

 

#18: SQUAT

Why:
Hip openers, squats help to prepare the pelvis for birth.
Build (lots of!) endurance, making us stronger for labor.
Bring tone and elasticity to the pelvic floor, promoting perineum health. Try adding Kegels to your squats for optimal benefits.
Grounding, rooting effect.
– Natural way to induce labor.
– During labor, they “shorten” the birth canal by up to 30%, and help baby descend deeper into the pelvis.

How to:
– Here are 2 squats that you can practice throughout pregnancy in preparation for birth.

Squat in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

SQUAT #1. This first squat focuses on hip opening and pelvic floor toning (and is also birthing position)

– Feet about shoulder width apart, toes pointing outward.
– Knees bend (in alignment with the toes) to bring bum towards the ground.
– Elbows press into the inner legs, hands in prayer position, or stretched out on floor in front of you.
– Hold for 20-60 seconds, breath steady and full.
Renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin suggests doing 300 squats a day.. that’s a lot! But I believe the idea is to add squats into your day, whenever you can! For example while cleaning, bending down to pick something up, playing with your children, etc.

* Do not do this full squat if you have placenta previa or if your cervix is fragile or if it’s uncomfortable. Instead, try sitting on a chair or a yoga ball with legs straddled (feet flat on the floor, as in the yoga ball hip circles)
* During late-pregnancy it can be a good idea to place support under your bum, with a pillow, bolster or block so as not to put too much pressure on the pelvic floor
* If the heels don’t touch the ground, place a rolled blanket underneath them for support.

Squat in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

SQUAT #2. This second squat focuses on building leg strength and stamina in preparation for labor:

– Feet take a wider stance, toes still pointing outwards.
– Bend the knees, aligned with the toes, hands rest on thighs or a chair for support.
Add lateral movement:
Inhale: Right arm up and over
Exhale: Back to center
Repeat on the other side, 5-10 times each side.
– *If balance is unsteady, use a chair or counter top for support.

Take advantage of the lovely side stretch, filling the lungs with deep and joyous breaths!

 

#19: PREPARE ENCOURAGEMENT NOTES!

Why:
– During labor, hearing positive words can encourage the production of labor-enhancing hormones (oxytocin, the “love” hormone, and endorphins, our natural pain relievers).
– Can calm and reassure mama, creating a climate of trust. During my first labor, the pain was so powerful that I thought something was wrong. Being told that “everything was going well” helped me to understanding that this pain was normal, making me feel safe for both me and my baby. I was then able to let myself go with more trust to the process of labor.
– A way to connect with birth partner.
– An occasion for partner to look into birth partner preparation.

Encouragement notes in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– Think of words that might inspire or encourage you.
– Here are some examples of the words that helped me during labor.

Note: You may end up not wanting to hear anything at all!

 

#20: Study and practice LABOR POSITIONS

Why:
– Though they may come to you naturally during labor, practicing various labor positions in advance can be a way to help them become more intuitive and natural, so that you won’t have to “think” about them during birth.
– As some positions require a partner, can be a way to connect with your partner in the weeks before baby’s arrival.

Labor positions in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Illustrations by Shanna Finger

How to:
– Above is an example of various labor positions.
– Some partner positions involve the use of acupressure points, which can greatly benefit the laboring mama!

Tip: During labor, walk and change positions as often as you can. It is usually recommended to try any given position for between 20 and 30 minutes to let it have its effect.

 

#21: DANCE!

Why:
– More of a for-fun point, but because that’s important too! 🙂
– Can help us connect to the joyous nature of pregnancy, and birth.
– Creates mobility in the body.
– Relieves stress and anxiety.
– Can help to relax mama. A relaxed mama will have more energy for labor.
– Can be used as a natural way to induce labor.
– Some women even use dancing as a coping mechanism during labor.
Releases endorphins into the body. – Endorphins are a powerful pain-relieving and pleasure-enhancing hormone that our bodies produce during labor to help mediate the pain of contractions.

Dancing mama - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
-Really up to you :), I’m personally a fan of Funk and Motown, it just gets me going :)!
– Try “dancing” with baby by placing your hands on your belly, and sharing the movement.

Note: Even if you feel like a whale, give it a try!

 

#22: VISUALIZATION

Why:
– This is a personal point that proved useful for me during my second pregnancy.
– My first birth was long-ish, 14 hours, with lots of pushing. I believe my body needed to figure out the way to opening and that a little bit of fear of the unknown made me avoid letting go to this “opening”.
– Furthermore, when labor began, my cervix was 0 effaced, 0 dilated, and posterior. (!)
– Because of this experience, when my second pregnancy came around, I was able to prepare mentally in a more concrete way. Along with acknowledging my fears during pregnancy, this visualization proved to be a very useful tool.

Visualization in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
Simply put, when I was about 37 or 38 weeks pregnant, I started to do some very specific visualization of my body “opening” up, once a day before going to bed.
I found images of the cervix, and what it looks like when it’s going through labor and opening (even just a drawing). – a head-on view was the most useful for me, as in this type of image (no pun intended):

Visualization in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

– I then imagined my own cervix as best I could doing the same thing.
And finally, I imagined breathing into this part of my body, visualizing it relaxing, stretching and opening, with each breath for between 5-10 minutes.
– The image of a flower opening is also often used to nourish this visualization, like in this example:

Visualization in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Crowning Rose (By “Gisela”; Artist and Copyright information unknown)

Note: With the ok from your doctor or midwife, Evening Primrose Oil, taken orally (35 weeks +) or directly inserted into the vagina (37 weeks +), can be used to help soften and “ripen” the cervix in the final days of pregnancy. I personally used 500mg capsules which I inserted as of 39 weeks of pregnancy, with positive results on cervical ripening!

 

#23: RELAXATION

Why:
Encourages the production of labor-enhancing hormones (oxytocin, the “love” hormone, and endorphins, our natural pain relievers) during childbirth.
– Helps to alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety can tense up the body, which can in turn slow down the release of labor hormones.
– A relaxed mama will have more energy for labor.
– A relaxed body and mind can help lessen the sensation pain.
– Can help labor to progress by encouraging the body to “open up”.
Relaxation in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

 

How to:
Once a day, practice a relaxation technique, such as:
– If you do yoga, Savasana.
Total body relaxation (many guided relaxation videos exist online).
– Deep and slow belly breathing.
– During labor, promote relaxation for mama with:
– A calm, safe environment.
– Dim lights.
Music.

 

#24: MY POSITION, BABY’S POSITION!

Why:
– The way we sit and stand has a direct effect on baby’s positioning in the womb.
– Especially in 3rd trimester and in preparation for birth, it is recommended to maintain a forward-leaning or vertical stance, and to avoid “slouching” posture to promote optimal positioning for baby.
– Can have a positive effect on the outcome of labor.

Healthy posture in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Think of aligning earlobe + shoulder + hip articulation + ankle in a vertical line.

How to:
– Here are 10 (fun!) tips to maintain good posture during pregnancy.
– Once a day, practice a forward leaning pose, such as Downward Dog, or this Forward-Leaning Inversion by Spinning Babies.
– When sitting down to work or watch a movie, prop pillows behind your back to maintain an upright position. (you’ll look funny next normal, relaxed and non-pregnant people 🙂 )
– Avoid sitting cross-legged.
Sit on a birthing ball instead of a chair, as often as you can, especially in late-pregnancy. There are so many benefits to this, including, toning the postural muscles in the spine, toning and supporting the pelvic floor, mobility and opening of the pelvis in preparation for birth, to name but a few. You can practice hip circles and pelvis rocking while you’re at it as well!

 

#25: PRACTICE “HAVING” CONTRACTIONS.. !

Why:
– This exercise can help give a sense as to how long a contraction lasts, and what resources we can hone as coping mechanisms during this lapse of time.

Practice "having" contractions in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
Take a “sitting” position, with your back gently pressed against the wall, feet hip-width apart in front of you, knees aligned with the feet. You can place a cushion or yoga block in between the thighs to help maintain proper alignment of the knees.
– Hold this position for 60 to 90 seconds, the length of time a contraction lasts!
– During this time, in principle (!), your thighs should begin to feel a burn. 🙂
– While in this “discomfort”, observe which resources help you to find relaxation, calm and breath in your body and mind, using the various tools available to us, for example:

– Come back to breath awareness* using words, or mantras, to help guide you and keep you focused in the present moment.
Relax what doesn’t need to be “working”*, for example the shoulders, face and mouth.
Acknowledge what is there*, sensations, thoughts, emotions, without looking to push them away or avoid them.
Find movement in your position, try rocking the hips side-to-side or in circles.*

Say yes!
– Think of breathing “into” where you feel the heat (as in Hand On Belly Breath Exercise).
Vocalize.*
Breathing exercises.*

(*These points can be found in Part 1)

*Adjust your price in the “Amount” box.

 

I hope these tips are helpful!

I did not include proper hydration and a healthy diet, which are, of course, essential.

One of the healthy snacks I craved the most during pregnancy was this Sunflower Seed Veggie Pâte recipe. I really just couldn’t get enough! 😉

To remain properly hydrated, aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day.

If you have tips that were useful for you in preparing for birth, I would love to hear them and share with other mamas-to-be! Please feel free to  share them in the comment section below.

With all of my heart, I wish you a wonderful and joyous birth, and time discovering your new baby. xoxo


Here are some links to books and products that were helpful for me in preparation for birth. They are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using these links. Your price doesn’t change but this commission helps support this site. Thank you!

Evening Primrose Oil for cervical ripening:

Barlean’s Organic Oils Organic Evening Primrose Oil, 120 softgels/1300 mg ea. Bottle


Raspberry Leaf Tea can be taken as of 34 weeks, to strengthen and tone the uterine muscles in preparation for labor. This is the one that I used:

Traditional Medicinals Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea, 16 Tea Bags (Pack of 6)


Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond


The Birth Partner – Revised 4th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions

 


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


More from 10ThingsYogaMama:

Birth Affirmations For Dad – 10 Things I Wanted To Hear During Labor

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor (Physically and Mentally) – Part 1

Labor is a mysterious and profound experience, usually ranging somewhere on the “marathon” scale from hours to days in length (although some labors will actually end up being quite short. I know of a couple who named their daughter “Octavia”, as labor lasted 8… minutes !).

In general however, preparing for labor, means preparing for a sort of marathon by building physical and mental endurance, and by giving ourselves resources and tools, almost like a toolbox, that we can come back to when the time comes, to help us cope with the intense and awe-inspiring event that is childbirth.

As our bodies progress through the birthing experience, much of our rational brain “turns off”, and some of the most important tools available to us become:

1. BREATHING
2. MOVEMENT
3. BODY AWARENESS

I’ve rounded up what ended up being the 25 most useful resources in both of my birthing experiences in helping me to develop this awareness in preparation for labor.

Often times, the welcomed side-effect of these exercises is to make pregnancy a bit more “comfortable”, too !

*There are many proven techniques that you can also look into and study, such as HypnoBirthing, Lamaze, The Bradley Method, Bonapace Method and Alexander Technique to name a few. Also, having a doula at your side can play an important role when it comes to pain management.
* As always, please consult with a licensed physician before beginning any new exercise program. The exercises and suggestions provided here are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation.

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor (Physically and Mentally) - Part 1

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor (Physically and Mentally) - Part 1

#1: BREATHING EXERCISES

Why:
– Without a doubt, abdominal breathing is probably the most important tool available to us during labor to help cope with the intensity and the waves of contractions.
Oxygenates the muscles, thus keeping them more relaxed.
– Helps to focus and anchor the mind.
Calms the nervous system.
– Can help reduce feelings of tension and stress.

Perineum Breathing in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Perineum Breathing

How to:
– Here are 4 breathing techniques to help develop abdominal breathing, that can be practiced throughout pregnancy, as well as during labor.

1. Hand on belly breath exercise
2. Ujjayi (or Ocean Breath)
3. “Elevator”, or 3-part breathing
4. Perineum breathing

Note: There is no right or wrong way to breathe. We learn these techniques, like guides, that we can adapt to our comfort and preference. The key is to feel the breath fluid and natural, and even “relaxed” when possible.

“Deep abdominal breathing is calming and reassuring. It’s impossible to feel fear or tension while breathing deeply, slowly, rhythmically.” – Childbirth Educator, Liza Janda

 

#2: YOGA BALL HIP CIRCLES

Why:
– Can help release tension in the pelvis, lower back and abdominal muscles.
– Bring mobility to the pelvis,
which can help ease labor and facilitate baby’s descent through the birth canal.
Develop a breath/movement connectionStaying connected to your breath while moving is one of the great lessons of yoga. It not only keeps us rooted in the present moment, but promotes focus and overall well-being.
– During labor, staying connected to the breath while moving can prove to be an essential tool in making the experience more manageable.

yogaball-hip-circles in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Yoga Ball Hip Circles

How to:
Abridged explanation:
– Sitting on a yoga ball, slowly and gently start to move the pelvis in a circular motion, side-front-other side-and back, drawing a circle in space with your hips and lower back, letting yourself go to more ample then more subtle circles.
Breath remains steady, full and connected to the circular motion.
– Circle in the other direction.
Feet are firmly rooted on the ground, and knees are about 90 degrees bent.
– Hands on the thighs with shoulders relaxed.

For a detailed explanation of Yoga Ball Hip Circles click here.

 

#3: PERINEUM “MASSAGE”

Why:
Can help to ready the body and mind for the very real sense of burning that may occur during the infamous “ring of fire”, especially for first-time moms.
May reduce or prevent tearing to the perineum during birth, as well as the need for an episiotomy.
– Promotes pelvic floor awareness.
– If your partner’s the one lending a hand, this can even become a daily moment to share in the final weeks before the arrival of your new baby.

Perineum Massage (10 Steps to Prepare the Perineum for Birth) - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Perineum Massage (10 Steps to Prepare the Perineum for Birth)

How to:
– Here is a detailed and illustrated 10-Step Guide to Perineum “Massage”.
Start around week 34 or 35, a few minutes a day.
*Note: Generally speaking, these are not what are referred to as “fun” to do. 😉

 

#4: VISIT AN OSTEOPATH

Why:
– The gentle work of an osteopath can help to find and recreate balance in the body, by “undoing” tensions that may have built up in the muscles, tissues and ligaments over time or simply during the pregnancy.
A mobile and aligned, or “balanced” pelvis can participate in easing labor by facilitating baby’s descent through the birth canal. (See more on “Balance”, one of the 3 Principles in Pregnancy by Spinning Babies.

Visit an osteopath in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– Locate directories for osteopaths that treat pregnant women in your region.

 

#5: POSITIVE AFFIRMATION PHRASES

Why:
– Especially during my second pregnancy, I realized how important it is to nourish oneself with positive thoughts. Labor is a voyage into the unknown, and to be strong and prepared mentally, nourishing ourself with positivity can help to build this strength.

Positive Birth Affirmations in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– I was so lucky to have found these beautiful positive affirmation phrases, that I listened to every night before going to bed in the final (long 🙂 ) weeks of my second pregnancy.

Truly beautiful and so full of light! (and the music is so soothing!):

Posted on youtube by Indigo Midwifery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSXc-a_AH2k

Thank you to Indigo Midwifery for posting such a beautiful tool for mamas-to-be!

 

#6: THE “YOU MUST BE LIKE THE BEAST” ..!

Why:
– This yoga-inspired exercise helps us tune into our natural, spontaneous, even animal self, (the Beast 🙂 !) by bringing us to connect to our bodies and to the way it intuitively feels like moving. – Our bodies may choose various movements or positions intuitively during labor to help us cope with the waves of contractions. This exercise helps to nourish that intuition.
– A way to release tension in the body.
– Develops the breath/movement connection.
– Moving can help to make labor more manageable.
Baby gets used to mama’s movements.

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
The “You Must Be Like The Beast!”

How to:
Abridged explanation:
Integrate cat/cow and lateral movements of the spine until you aren’t doing specific or technical positions anymore, but simply letting your body move in space how it wishes to.
– Keep the breath flowing, and observe how breath and movement are connected.
Try ample and subtle movements, letting the body go to what it feels like doing. Make it your own thing, kind of like a dance.

If your body ends up doing this kind of a “Beast-like dance” during labor, it may be a way to cope with your contractions. In any case, it feels great 🙂 !

For a detailed description of the “You Must Be Like The Beast”..! click here.

 

 

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#7: PRACTICE MAKING SOUNDS – Vocal Toning

Why:
– There is a good chance we’ll use sounds during labor, as they can play an important part in pain management. –“Practicing” in advance helps us become familiar with our voice and range.
– Vocal toning helps focus the mind and promotes deep relaxation.
– Physiologically, the vocal cords are connected to the diaphragm (the beautiful umbrella-shaped muscle in our torso that expands the rib cage to let air fill the lungs), which is connected to the perineum. (see Perineum Breathing)
– Toning the vocal cords develops this connection.
– Using low vocalizations during labor can lessen the sensation of pain during contractions.

Vocal Toning in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Practice low “mmm”, “ah”, “hah” and “ooo” sounds, even if it feels a bit silly 🙂

How to:
– Find a comfortable position.
– Begin by practicing sighing sounds.
– Practice low humming, as well as low vowel sounds, such as “ah”, “hah”, “ooo”.
– Here is a video I discovered during my first pregnancy that helped me practice vocal toning in the perspective of childbirth:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt8bWVecWEQ

(In this video, the woman demonstrating is lying flat on her back, I would recommend a supported “supine” position (like in the drawing above) for 3rd trimester comfort and to promote optimal circulation.)

*Note: You may look, sound or feel a bit silly doing this, but it’s worth it!

For more information on vocal toning, I found this article by Better Childbirth Outcomes to be very helpful.

 

#8: MEDITATION (through breath awareness)

Why:
– Strengthens our ability to focus and stabilize the mind.
Calms the nervous system.
– Builds inner calm and confidence.
– Brings the attention back to the present moment. –*Bringing the attention to the breath brings the attention back to the present moment, an indispensable tool for helping to remain rooted through emotions and sensations that arise during childbirth.
Elevates levels of endorphins. (endorphins are powerful and natural pain-relieving hormones produced by our bodies)
– Enhances levels of DHEA. (a hormone produced by the body with many benefits such as enhancing the immune system and balancing brain chemistry)
– Can help to regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

Meditation in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
“Inhaling.. Exhaling..”

How to:
Many meditation techniques exist, this is a breath awareness meditation:

1. Find a comfortable position.
2. Close the eyes, and bring your awareness to your breathing.

Notice the movement of expansion in the body as you inhale, and of release in the body when you exhale. As best you can, stay present to both the inhale and the exhale. It can help to use words, or mantras, as guides, for example:

3. Inhale, say to yourself: “Inhaling”, or “Expansion”, or “Nourish”,

4. Exhale, saying to yourself: “Exhaling” or “Release”, or “Cleanse”.

When thoughts arise and grab your attention, observe them as you need to, (you can even name them, saying for example “thoughts”), then let them pass and follow the breath once more.

It is normal to have many thoughts arise. It may even seem like a continuous stream of the thoughts when you first begin. Meditation will help to make the lapse of time, or “space”, between thoughts become longer.

Observe how the thoughts are like clouds, they come and they go, and that your presence is like the blue and infinite sky behind them, immense and limitless.

We actually are limitless!

Between 5-15 minutes.

Note: If you don’t already have a special place to meditate, try… the bath! One of my favorites! 😉

 

#9: WELCOMING WHAT IS THERE (ie: fear!)

Why:
– Many women experience feelings of fear during pregnancy and labor. (fear of pain, fear of the unknown, etc.)
– This exercise is one of many to learn how to cope with feelings of fear.
– Builds the understanding that it is normal to experience these feelings.
Builds the confidence in ourself that we are prepared and have the tools necessary to deal with emotions that arise.
– As with meditation, this exercise helps us connect to the ever-present space that is in each of us, a safe place that is deeply rooted in the present moment (fear lives in the future!) that we can always come back to.
Calming effect, can help fear feel less “overpowering”.

Welcoming fear in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Greeting what is supposed to be a scary creature 🙂

How to:
– When emotions such as fear present themselves, begin by following the breath, using breath awareness. (exercise in #8).
– Then, try to “welcome” the feeling of fear as best you can, acknowledging it’s presence.
– You can even “greet” it, for example, “Hello fear, it’s ok, I see you are there, and that you are a part of what I’m feeling right now.” (but you are not me, nor are you all that I feel!).
– Also, speak about your fears with supportive people you trust.Simply expressing your feelings often has the effect of making them feel less overpowering.
Inform yourself about that which scares you.  “Knowing is half the battle” is especially true when it comes to fear. Fear definitely has a way of getting bigger when it’s left “in the dark”.
Practice techniques that calm the body and mind, such as breathing, meditation, relaxation or yoga.
– Use mantras, for example:

“Inhale courage,
Exhale fear and doubt”

Inhale courage,
Exhale that which does not serve me”
“Inhale I acknowledge my fear,
Exhale I let it go”

– If your feelings are overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional health care provider.

 

#10: STANDING SACRAL RELEASE by Spinning Babies

Why:
– This lesser-known exercise relieves tension in the pelvis and lower back, thus helping to create balance in the body in preparation for birth.
– Can improve fetal positioning and pelvic alignment, which can help to ease labor and to facilitate baby’s descent through the birth canal.
– Creates more comfort during pregnancy, by reducing heartburn and even snoring.
– A way to connect with your partner. – this exercise requires a partner, practicing with your partner can be a way to connect.

25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally
Standing Sacral Release

How to:
-“The Standing Sacral Release is a simple, highly-recommended technique done with a very light touch to release the fascia around the pelvis and the pelvic and respiratory diaphragms.” (Spinning Babies)

http://spinningbabies.com/learn-more/techniques/other-techniques/standing-sacral-release/

 

#11: RELAX WHAT DOESN’T NEED TO BE “WORKING”

Why:
– An excellent tool to use for helping to cope with contractions.
Trains in focusing the mind.
– Develops body awareness.
Relieves stress.
– Helps to calm the mind by bringing the attention back to the present moment.

Relax what doesn't need to be "working" in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– You know how sometimes when you’re working hard on something, you realize at one point that you’re tensing up other parts of the body, say the forehead, jaw or shoulders, as if these parts of the body want to “work” with you? (Nice of them, but no thanks 😉 !)
– As you sit or stand, bring your attention to different parts of the body, for example, your mouth. Notice if there is any tension there, and try to relax your mouth. Move your attention to another part of the body, for example the shoulders and jaw, and see if there is any tension there. Then, try to relax them.
Breath remains full.
Closing the eyes can help to focus the mind and become more aware of the subtle sensations in the body.

Note: This is an excellent exercise to practice in moments that require extra or unexpected physical and mental efforts in your day-to-day life (ie: having to carry more bags than you thought while running errands, forgetting something in your home and having to go back up the stairs to get it (and being 8 1/2 months pregnant 🙂 ), being stuck in traffic, having a headache, dealing with your toddler’s tantrum, stubbing your finger, etc.). Each time an extra physical or mental effort presents itself, focus on the body, and attempt to release any tension in the body that doesn’t need to be there.

“Breathing, I find relaxation where I can.”

Contractions are indeed an extra physical and mental effort, and finding any source of relaxation in the body while having one can be an invaluable tool in dealing with the pain.

 

#12: PRENATAL YOGA

Why:
– Increases muscular strength and stamina in preparation for labor.
Reduces stress and anxiety.
– Can help you connect with your baby.
– Improves sleep and helps to make pregnancy more “comfortable”.
– A moment when mama takes care of mama (as well as baby 🙂 ).

Prenatal Yoga in preparation for labor - 25 Ways To Prepare For Labor Physically and Mentally

How to:
– Find a school you love, this is also a lovely way to meet up with other mamas-to-be!
– There are also many quality videos online.
– You can also have a look at my 10 Late-Pregnancy Yoga-Inspired Exercises.

 

…Continued here in Part 2..

25 Ways To Prepare Yourself For Labor – Instant download e-book!

I’ve put together a Birth Preparation eBook with all of the points from this post, as well as the exercises that were the most useful in both of my birthing experiences in helping me to prepare for labor in view of natural childbirth. (Note: this is a pay what you want e-book, which means you choose your price)

INCLUDES:
• 25 Ways to Prepare for Labor Physically and Mentally
• Pain Management Techniques
• Relaxation Exercises
• Mental Preparation Tips

+ ADDED SECTIONS:

• 5 Breathing Exercises
• 6 Kegel Exercises
• Perineum Massage 10-step Guide
• Good Posture 10 Tips Checklist
• 11 Printable Birth Affirmations
• Sample Week Schedule
• Birth Ritual Ideas

 


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


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For Part 2, click here





Birth Affirmations For Dad – 10 Things I Wanted To Hear During Labor

This is more of a for-fun post, but hopefully useful for some women too! 🙂

We never know how labor is going to go. It is truly an exciting, thrilling and awe-inspiring journey.

After my first labor, I realized the important role that encouraging words had played in by birthing experience. I am convinced that they helped my labor to progress and to go well overall. I had been laboring for about 12 hours, during which time I had been having ongoing contractions every 1 to 3 minutes, when at one point my midwife said to me “I wouldn’t be able to do what you’re doing”… (hmm.. I’m not too sure about this as she has 4 kids 🙂 !.. but I believe she was encouraging me, and helping me to connect to my inner strength by making me feel like a “tough guy”.) There was also the staff in the room who literally cheered me on as I was pushing, I felt so supported!

So when my second pregnancy came around, I prepared my partner, months in advance, he was warned:  there would be a list.

A list of things I wanted to hear during labor, and that he would have to say to me! 😉

Even if he didn’t think them, I essentially made him say them! Honestly, it was lovely to hear, and definitely made me feel, and know, that he was there for me. My second labor was so short however, that he only got a few of the phrases in, but these moments actually remain as truly beautiful memories from that labor.

Note: you may end up not wanting to hear anything at all! But at least he’ll be ready.

(If you’re feeling unsure about how to support someone during labor, here is a very useful article that gives excellent advice to untrained birth support people: https://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/ten-tips-on-being-a-great-birth-support-person/)

Birth affirmations for dad:

#1: 

#2:

#3:

#4:

#5:

#6:

#7:

#8:

#9:

#10:

 

Are you wondering about birth preparation?

I’ve put together a Birth Preparation eBook with what ended up being the most useful resources in both of my birthing experiences in helping me to prepare for birth.

Over 140 pages of exercises and tips for birth preparation


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


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10 Late-Pregnancy Yoga-Inspired Exercises


11 Natural Ways To Manage Pregnancy-Induced Eczema





10 Best Gifts To Offer a New Mama

If you’re not sure what to offer a new mama you love, here are 10 simple gift ideas from the heart. Some are for baby, but most are for mum!

Top 10 Gifts For New Mamas.

If you're not sure what to offer a new mama you love, here are 10 simple gift ideas from the heart. Some are for baby, but most are for mum!

 

(The links aren’t sponsors, just personal favorites)

 

origami-mobile#1: ORIGAMI MOBILE

A hand-made origami mobile. I know, we can’t all offer this because it means making one!! But if you’re looking for something original to offer and you have artistic fairy fingers, this is one of the most beautiful things I have in my in my baby’s room. Delicate presence and calming, graceful movements, a true beauty. (my drawing kind of looks like spiders, but they’re stars and cranes !)

 

#2: THE “CALL ME AT ANY TIME, EVEN IF IT’S 3:00 AM”

This one came from a veteran mom, and was her gift to me when I first gave birth. She told me that no matter what I needed to talk about, 3amcallor if I was simply feeling exhausted or helpless, to call her at any time, even if it was 3:00 am! I never ended up using the offer, but it was extremely comforting to know that this option was there.

 

#3: THE 3-WEEK POSTNATAL CLEAN-UPstars

Twice I was offered this same (awe-some!) gift at around 3 weeks postnatal from the same friends: the “we’re coming over to clean your house” gift. Seriously, they just came in and cleaned. It may be an vacuumobvious one to some, or maybe sound a bit intrusive to others, but, although I felt like I just wanted my company to sit and relax (and that my house actually wasn’t doing too badly ;)! ), they decided to be the clean-dream-team anyways.. some vacuuming, some dusting, somefeather-duster wiping.. and it ended up giving a lovely fresh feeling to my home that was quite welcome :).

 

#4: COCONUT SOAP STAIN-REMOVER

It works like magic! A natural and extremely efficient way to get rid of coconut-soapstains (as long as they’ve not already been baked in – and excluding banana stains, which i have yet to conquer 🙂 ). Fantastic for cloth diapers, but also on all clothes, blankets, etc. I discovered this one by Savonnerie des Diligences*, but I imagine many versions exist and that you can surely find these in your local natural products store. One of my favorite things to offer to new mums now.

*Each soap from this company has its own quirky little story, fun stuff!

 

#5: LARS THE MUSICAL LION

204_lars-musical-lionThe cutest little guy. “Lars” the Musical Lion, is a musical plush toy by Happy Horse. He’s a gorgeous and colorful lion that, upon pulling his tail, melodically springs into song. (i believe he does Chopin’s Nocturne). Perfect for sweet moments before bed, or for keeping baby cheery (and occupied) while chan444_rabbit-twineging her diapers. I recently discovered the musical “Rabbit Twine” from the same series who’s pulled tail starts Somewhere Over The Rainbow. So, so cute. The musical choices are beautiful, the instrumentation chimes so delicately, the volume is just right, and there’s something kind of magical when the music starts, almost dreamy and wonderous.

 

#6: BUM CREAM BY DOUCE MOUSSE

This may very well be the perfect bum cream! 🙂 After trying so many different kinds, I found this one to be in a league of its own. Incredibly soft to the touch, all organic, this ointment-type cream by Douce Mousse has a very pleasant and subtle (again, all natural) perfume, and creates the perfect bum barrier. The texture is just right and works wonders at avoiding and healing rashes on baby’s bum, really! Highly recommended.

 

#7: SOAP!

soapI’m a fan of receiving soap as a gift. They say it’s good luck too! In any case, offering a soap to a new mama can help her to feel like she’s getting pampered too. I recently discovered this little soap company, Botanicum Cosmétique, lovely soaps, all natural, and the fragrance and flavor combos are great. My favorite so far is the Cinnamon, Lemon, Shea Butter bar, yummy 🙂

 

#8: CONGRATULATIONS FROM PASSERS-BYcongrats

Receiving a warm smile or “Congratulations” from passers-by has been one of the nicer gifts I’ve had offered over time, and has on many occasions lit up my day. In turn, now when I see a tiny bundle cuddled up in a stroller or carrier, I love to give a smile and if it fits a, “Congratulations”, hopefully giving back a bit of light in return.

 

#9: THE OLDER LADIES, THOSE EYES

old-lady-eyesOlder women looking at you with love and emotion, their eyes saying “I have been there, I know the love and intensity of these moments, you are blessed”… Kind of like hearing “Congratulations”, these looks, so soft, have also been ones that have carried me through the day and lit up my heart. One older lady recently said to me, when she saw me carrying my baby “You’re holding a Million Dollars in your arms”…

 

#10: THE ONESIEbaby-in-onesie2

For mum! Just kidding. Who doesn’t love a onesie. I’m an inveterate fan. LOVE onesies. Short-sleeved, long-sleeved, patterns or none. Baby just looks so comfy and cuddly. I have been known to string out the onesie phase as long as I possibly can.  (My 3-year-old son still wants to wear his Fireman one to bed :)).

baby-in-onesie1

 

 

 

 

*Note: Chocolate is not on this list, but should be considered as an essential part of any postpartum rehabilitation 🙂 !

10 Best Gifts To Offer a New Mama #5: LARS THE MUSICAL LION


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also the mother of a beautiful toddler son and brand new baby daughter (oh the love!). I believe deeply in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using these links. Your price doesn’t change but this commission helps support the work of running this site. Thank you for your support!






10 Little Things That Helped Me Survive The First Weeks After Giving Birth

The first few weeks after having a baby are so unique, precious… and pretty crazy!

Here are 10 little things that helped me survive the first weeks after this (and the other!) birth, a kind of  “postnatal survival guide”.. more for fun than anything else, but a few good tips too!

Continue reading

10 Places To Do Kegels

Learning to do Kegels can take a bit of time, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can do them just about anywhere, anytime!! Continue reading

Perineum “Massage” (10 Steps to Prepare the Perineum for Birth)

Generally speaking, these are not what are usually referred to as fun to do (!), but these exercises, along with Kegels, can prove to be an essential part in preparing the perineum for birth.

Starting at 34-35 weeks of pregnancy,  practicing perineal massage daily can ready the body and mind for the very real sense of burning that may occur during the infamous “ring of fire”, especially for first-time moms. I believe it made a big difference in both of my birthing experiences.

Perineum massage may also reduce or prevent tearing to the perineum during birth, as well as the need for an episiotomy.

With yours or your partner’s fingers, you want to gently stretch the perineum, the tissues and muscles, like in the following images.

Don’t be embarrassed! It’s worth it! And if your partner’s the one lending a hand, it might give them a sense that they’re participating and able to help out. This can even become a daily moment to share in the final weeks before the arrival of your new baby. Start around week 34 or 35, a few minutes a day if you can.

Perineum “Massage” (10 Steps to Prepare the Perineum for Birth)

The following is a free translation I did of a document I received with unknown credits. Thank you to the authors!

 

#1:  Wash your hands.
wash-hands4

 

#2:  Oil the perineum and the lower part of the vagina rim.

(Recommended oils include pure vegetable oil or Sweet Almond Oil)

#3:  Insert the index and the middle finger (or the thumb) into the vagina (3 or 4cm). (Illustration 7)

#4: Move the fingers in half-circles by pressing the perineum towards the anus and then to the sides for 30 seconds. (Illustration 7)

#5:  Very gently, create an opening of the vagina by pressing and stretching with the index and middle fingers, until there is a light sensation of burning or tingling. (Illustration 8)

#6:  Maintain this stretch for 1 minute, so that this zone starts to feel numb.

*This will probably create a sustained “stinging” sensation that can give an idea as to how it may feel at birth. As much as possible, try to keep the bum, thighs and hips relaxed, while using belly breathing.

 

 

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#7:  For 30 seconds, massage the thin skin on the lower rim of the vagina with the index and thumb. It will become thicker and less sensitive. You will notice the effects after 2 or 3 weeks of doing this massage. (Illustration 9)

#8:  Massage the perineum with circular motions for 30 seconds. If it applies, concentrate the movements of the massage on the scar of any previous episiotomies, as this tissue will be less elastic. (Illustration 10)

#9:  Relax the muscles of the face, the mouth and the legs while you practice these massages. Visualize your perineum stretching and opening, and mentally say to yourself:

“I am opening the passage for my baby. My perineum is supple and relaxed.”

white

#10:  Wash your hands and vulva.

white

Note:

* Focus on keeping a steady breath and on letting the body relax and release, buttocks, belly, thighs, shoulders and face, a relaxation practice for both during contractions and delivery of the baby.

* You can start these exercises around 34 or 35 weeks of pregnancy, once a day, in preparation for birth.

* The muscles that get stretched during the birthing of the baby will be able to find their tone once again with Kegel Exercises.

 

Are you wondering about birth preparation?

In this ebook I share the tips, tools and thoughts from my yoga and dance background that were helpful for me in preparation for birth and during labor, including pain management techniques, relaxation exercises and mental preparation tips.


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


Here are some links to Perineum Massage Oils, including a link to the Sweet Almond Oil mentioned above. They are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using these links. Your price doesn’t change but this commission helps support this site. Thank you!



More from 10ThingsYogaMama:

10 Late-Pregnancy Yoga-Inspired Exercises





10 Little Things That Saved Me During The Last Weeks Of Pregnancy


Here are some personal things that helped me survive those last few, long.. long… weeks of pregnancy:) ! (overdue anyone?)

Kind of silly but also practical late-pregnancy survival guide !

Continue reading

10 Late-Pregnancy Yoga-Inspired Exercises

Here are a few yoga-inspired exercises that I used to help me stay comfortable as best I could during my late-pregnancy, and to invite my body to open up for birth.

As always, while doing these exercises (or any really!), don’t forget to breathe, and if ever you feel as though your breath becomes constricted, short, or blocked all together, ease out of the pose, and find a version that suits you better at that moment, (which sometimes means not doing it at all!), or modify the pose with some of the suggestions given here.

The key is to feel the breath throughout your body at all times (which helps in calming the nervous system, and focusing the mind).

And of course, breathing will be our best friend throughout labor and the birthing of the baby. 🙂

If at any moment you feel dizzy or just don’t enjoy being in the pose, don’t do it! Come out of the pose and don’t ever push yourself, just not worth it!

We’re there to take care of ourselves and in so doing to take care of the beautiful life that is growing in our body.
10 Late-Pregnancy Yoga-Inspired Exercises. Prenatal yoga for 3rd trimester.

Have faith that your body knows what to do. Believe in yourself, so entirely and so completely!

 

#1: HAND ON BELLY BREATH EXERCISE

1. Breathe “into” the hands.

Sitting or lying down comfortably, bring one hand on the belly, and one hand on the heart.

Notice yourself bringing your breath and attention to these parts of the body, there where your hands are.

2. Move one hand or both hands to another part of the body.

Once again, slowly breathe into your hands, thus « breathing into » a different part of the body.

*By training our mind to bring its awareness to different parts of the body, we develop what can be a powerful tool during labor to help « dissipate » the sensations of pain that may arise.
*Belly breathing can prove very helpful in coping with the pain and the waves of contractions, you can practice this exercise with both hands on the belly.
*Breath remains fluid and natural.

 

#2: THE “YOU MUST BE LIKE THE BEAST” ..!

When I took my prenatal class, the wonderful lady teaching it didn’t speak English as her first language, but was teaching to Anglophones.

As she was talking to us about labor and how it is a journey into our animal and instinctual nature into which we must let ourselves go, she was getting more and more enthusiastic and ended up telling us all with complete conviction that during labor:

” You must be like the Beast!”

This exercise is inspired by her enthusiasm 🙂 and is meant to help us tune into our natural, spontaneous, even animal self. (the Beast!)

It’s a way to connect to our bodies and to the way it intuitively feels like moving, yet another useful tool in keeping pregnancy “comfortable” and in helping with labor.

1. Find table position (on all fours), placing the hands shoulder-width apart and the knees aligned with the hips.

Spread out the fingers and palms and feel them pressing into the ground.

(Note: At any time, if this position becomes uncomfortable on the wrists you can press onto the base of the fingers, palms lifted off the ground, or you can also work on closed fists.)

2. Start by doing a few cat/cows

Inhale cow, exhale cat.

3. Then move the spine laterally

Bring the hips and the tip of the head to the right, then to the left (creating “half-moon” shapes with your spine).

Then take a moment to close the eyes. Notice how this brings your awareness into the body.

4. From there, start to let yourself move with a bit less “technique”

Integrate cat/cow and lateral movements until you start to feel that you aren’t really doing specific positions anymore, but that you’re simply letting your body move in space how it wishes to.

Keep noticing the presence of the hands, knees and lower legs on the ground. See how it feels to let the elbows bend and the hips move front and back. You can also move your head softly if you like.

Keep the breath flowing, and see if you can observe how breath and movement are connected.

Then try amplifying the movements by making them “bigger”, and then try making them more gentle, subtle and “smaller”, letting the body go with what it feels like doing. Make it your own thing, kind of like a dance.

If your body ends up doing this kind of a “Beast-like dance” during labor, it may be a way to cope with your contractions.

In any case, it feels great!

 

#3: KEGEL

rest_belly

Kegels exercise the perineum.  The perineum is made up of the musculature and tissues surrounding and including the space between the anus and the vagina up to the urethra.

Keeping this part of the body toned is essential in global well-being, to support the abdominal organs, and to give a sense of lightness, and even life to the body, kind of like an uplifted feeling.

During pregnancy, Kegel exercises, along with Perineum Massage, help to prepare the pelvic floor for birth, as well as aid in postnatal recovery.

Here are 6 Kegel exercises for the health and maintenance of the perineum that you can do all throughout your pregnancy and within a few days after birth.

 

#4: SQUAT WITH KEGEL

I’m in one right now! Just kidding.

Squats are powerful. I find that by bringing us near to the earth, they have a grounding, rooting effect, helping us to connect to our primal nature. Part of many cultures, this position is used for working, relaxing, cooking and even going to the loo ! (and it’s also used by toddlers world-wide:)!)

A wonderful hip opener, it also helps to maintain the health of the pelvic floor.

By adding Kegel work to our squat, we’re helping to tone the perineum, all the while opening the hips and creating space in the pelvis, making this a wonderful birth preparation tool, as well as a way to maintain overall functionality of the body, especially for pregnant mamas.

* Don’t do this full squat if you have placenta previa or if your cervix is fragile or if it’s uncomfortable. Instead, try working sitting on the yoga ball with legs straddled (feet flat on the floor, as in the yoga ball hip circles)
* During late-pregnancy it can be a good idea to place some support under your bum, with a pillow, bolster or block so as not to put too much pressure on the pelvic floor
* Always make sure the knees are aligned with the toes, avoid letting them roll inwards
* See if you can keep a smooth and steady breath all along
* Heels should be supported, so if they don’t touch the ground in your squat, place a rolled blanket underneath them.

 

#5: DOWNWARD DOG

So simple, so wonderful a pose and so fantastic to do all the way through pregnancy! I found especially so in late-pregnancy, both times.

Generally, in prenatal yoga, while we do want to maintain good alignment and thus protect joints and ligaments, we also want to find a way to tune into what the body needs, and sometimes that can mean modifying the poses.

So in Downward Dog it’s the same thing.

See how it feels to move the hips, or bend the knees and ankles a few times. Then try keeping the pose without movement.

Make it yours.

As well as getting the blood and energy to circulate, Downward Dog is a natural pick me up!

During late-pregnancy this pose can help to create space around the uterus and thus more space for baby and mama’s organs, hopefully bringing more comfort to mama.

Keep the breath flowing, staying anywhere between 3 and 5 breaths.

*Downward Dog is contraindicated if you’ve had a procedure to turn baby around from a breech to head down position, if you have very high or very low blood pressure or if you’re suffering from reflux
*If you’re not comfortable with your hands positioned directly on the ground, try placing them on a table, counter top, or chair instead, a stable surface that’s a bit higher and that can still give you the experience of opening in the back body and of creating space in and around the belly.

 

If you’re wondering about fetal repositioning, Spinning Babies have loads of incredible information on the subject, amazing guys!

 

#6: PARSVAKONASANA (Extended Side Angle Pose) WITH ELBOW ON FRONT THIGH

I have a tendency to say Hallelujah when I get into this pose. I just love Parsvakonasana. I think that this is my personal Warrior Pose as I always feel strong and vibrant in it.

A wonderful side body stretch, it also allows for deep breathing into the lungs and ribs.

This pose can help us to become attuned with the positioning of the sacrum, a tool we can use throughout our yoga practice as well as pregnancy (keeping the mobility of the sacrum can prove useful and even vital in facilitating delivery).

*Tip: Try doing a couple of very gentle and very subtle pelvic tilts in your Parsvakonasana, helping yourself by placing the back of your hand on the sacrum (triangular-shaped bone at the base of the spine).

Then softly aim at aligning the sacrum « vertically »with the rest of the body, not tucked in, and not sticking out.

Because it creates space in the pelvis, any work on mobilizing the sacrum can prove beneficial for pregnancy comfort and for easing labor.

*Keep the back leg strong and back foot rooted
*The front knee doesn’t bend too far over the heel, and if this is the case, move the front foot forward a little. This will protect your knee! Avoid letting it roll inwards
*If you are uncomfortable working with your elbow on the front thigh (this could be the case if you are in late, late-pregnancy 🙂 !) try placing the hand on the thigh instead
*Breathe into the entire body, all the way to the tips of the fingers and toes, tasting the stretch, such a welcome one in our pregnant bodies!

 

#7: SITTING ON THE YOGA BALL, HIP CIRCLES

In late-pregnancy, this is one of the exercises that I found to be so helpful and useful! You’ll need a yoga ball, fit for your height (more air if you’re tall, less if you’re small!).

1. Sit on the ball

Hands on the thighs with your shoulders nice and relaxed, let the pelvis release and find some comfort there.

*Feet are firmly rooted on the ground, and that your knees are about 90 degrees bent.

2. Slowly and gently start to move the pelvis in a circular motion

Side-front-other side-and back, drawing a circle in space with your hips and lower back.yogaball-hip-circles

Letting yourself go, gently begin to amplify the movement,

and then play with more subtle, smaller circles.

Again, see how your breath remains steady, full and connected to the circular motion. Then try doing some circles in the other direction.

This gets movement going in the hips and in the pelvic floor, a wonderful way to feel healthy all throughout pregnancy and to help your body prepare for labor and delivery.

*Keeping the body consciously moving during contractions can help a great deal in coping with the pain.

 

#8: PELVIC TILTS

– a true winner for helping with lower back problems that arise throughout pregnancy.

I focused on these way more during my second pregnancy and had a great lower back up until the end. (I did have a small episode of lower back problems around 6 months, that seemed to be resolved through pelvic tilts and keeping moving (ie walking and biking)).

These can be done in many positions: sitting, lying down, standing and even while walking.

1. Start with your back against the wall

In a “sitting position” against the wall, the ankles and knees are aligned (don’t let the knees go past forward over the ankles, and if this does occur, simply walk the feet front a bit more).

*The knees are aligned with the hips and feet, don’t let them roll in or out – if needed, try using a block in between the thighs to help maintain proper alignment throughout the exercise.

Already, just being here against the wall (and breathing fully!), is a great exercise to tone the quads and the bum!

2. Move your sacrum

To do pelvic tilts, start to move your sacrum (the triangular-shaped bone at the bottom of the spine), as well as your lower back and bum towards the front, essentially scooping and tucking them in,

then, move the sacrum and lower back toward the back as though to stick out the bum a little, keeping the upper back relaxed and pressed against the wall. Back and forth, back and forth.

Do 15 to 40 repetitions, breathing all the while.

*You should not only feel your thighs find some heat, but also the lower back and the lower abdomen. It’s also a bit of a massage for the lower back (mmm!). And a wonderful leg toner!
*Can be used all throughout pregnancy to ease back pain.

 

#9: SIDE-LYING LEG FAN

I discovered this one during my second pregnancy. It became one of my go-to exercises, especially in late, late-pregnancy 🙂 to help me get some movement going in my legs, hips and lower back.

1. Lie on your left side

Lay your head on your left arm or a pillow if you like. Place the right hand on the floor in front of you to stabilize the torso, keeping your back in line with the head. The left knee is slightly bent.

2. Like a fan

Let the right knee bend towards the sky then lift the foot, with a gentle, gentle kick. Then let the leg return gracefully ( !! ) towards the ground.

5-10 times.

It’s fun to do!

Repeat on the other side if you’re still comfortable lying on your right side.

*While pregnant, the muscles of the body are a bit more “relaxed” because of the pregnancy hormone relaxin that prepares and starts to open the pelvis for birth. This can give the sense that we’re actually more flexible than we really are – so generally speaking we can aim at working, say, at 75% of our range of motion, which can help to avoid overstretching the muscles, tendons or ligaments.

 

#10: DANCE!

Yes that’s right! Get up and start shaking it! (well you know, with care 🙂 !)

dance_233

In my « overdue » phase this time around I was having quite a few “omg this is taking forever” thoughts and I was also feeling a bit « stuck » in my big body as I couldn’t go out for as many walks with the cold winter we were having.

I heard an old-time funk musician on the radio talking about his Motown days, and an urge came upon me, to dance!

Really just get up and shake my bootie.

That evening, with my partner and toddler son watching (with a bit of fear in their eyes), I found a fantastic funk playlist (geared to Motown:) and I just danced, let what felt like my huge body move and boogie in space, feeling filled by the music and rhythm in my body and heart.

Honestly felt so good, so.. « freeing »! Ok, so it didn’t induce my labor, but who knows, it may have helped!

 

2 more things worth mentioning :)…

 

#11: REST

– because its’ its just as important as moving and mobilizing the body, rest! When you can, find a moment to lay down, by now the most comfy positions will likely be on your left side, or in a reclined position. (Use a bolster or as many pillows as needed to prop your knee(s), head, etc.)

rest_belly

For reclined positions, I use a cylindrical bolster like the ones used in a yoga class.

Here’s a breath awareness exercise you can do as you rest (if you’re not already sleeping 🙂 ):

1. Close the eyes, and bring your awareness to your breathing.

Notice the movement of expansion in the body as you inhale, and of release in the body when you exhale. As best you can, stay present to both the inhale and the exhale. It can help to actually use words, for example:

2. Inhale, say to yourself : “inhaling”, or “expansion”

3. Exhale, saying to yourself: “exhaling” or “release”.

When thoughts arise and grab your attention, observe them as you need to, (you can even name them, saying for example “thoughts”), then let them pass.

Observe how the thoughts are like clouds, they come and they go, and that your presence is like the blue and infinite sky behind them, immense and limitless.

We actually are limitless!

Even just 5-10 breaths like this can to wonders for calming the nervous system, and it also practices awareness to breath, an indispensable tool during labor.. and motherhood !

 

#12: WALKING!

It is said again and again, but such a lovely way to build stamina and keep your body mobile and healthy, pregnant or not.

When we go for a walk, we activate our circulation, we create mobility in the entire body, and we’re breathing fresh air.

Try breathing in connection with your steps, like a walking meditation, for example:

Inhale while counting 1-2-3 steps,

Exhale while counting 1-2-3-4 steps,

or whatever number of steps suits your rhythm (it can be inhale 1-2, exhale 1-2-3 steps if you’re walking more slowly, etc.)

You can also say to yourself the words, like a mantra, “Inhaling” and “Exhaling” as you go.

Note: Normally the exhale is longer, so add an extra step or two.

 

What a gift to feel our bodies move in those last weeks of pregnancy, even just a few minutes a day can feel so good and be so helpful.

One very important last thing to keep in mind : …you’re a total babe! 🙂


aboutbw2Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→


Affiliate links are provided on this site for your convenience. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links it will cost you the same but I will get a few pennies as a thank you for referring you! Thank you!

 

AWESOME PRENATAL YOGA BOOK:


Highly recommended, this book is a must-have for any prenatal yoga enthusiast (I use it all the time!). It provides detailed info and safe modifications for yoga practice throughout pregnancy and after birth. A must!!!


RECOMMENDED for at-home practice:
A BOLSTER

Oh my goodness I love my bolster! You may be used to the joy of using bolsters from your yoga practice in the studio. Having one at home is a treat! Bolsters are an essential part of my yoga practice at home. Because of their length, they can support the entire upper body in reclined poses, offering optimal relaxation. I use the cylindrical bolster by Halfmoon.


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Birth Affirmations For Dad – 10 Things I Wanted To Hear During Labor






Are you wondering about birth preparation?

In this work, I share the tips, tools and thoughts from my yoga and dance background that were helpful for me in preparation for birth and during labor, including pain management techniques, relaxation exercises and mental preparation tips.

Over 140 pages of exercises and tips for birth preparation