It’s time! Exercise in general is good, and may help in reducing labour time, so we’ll be sharing a few simple yoga poses designed to help expectant mothers experience a safe delivery.
Popular poses are hip openers or squats as they help open a wider space for the baby’s descent in a natural delivery, but we’ve also included other poses that strengthen the lower body. These poses are suitable for all trimesters, but are particularly beneficial for mother preparing for birth. They also tone your muscles if you decide to embark on a post-natal workout.
Goddess pose or wide legged squat
Stand with feet about one foot apart or slightly wider if you are in your last few months of pregnancy. Point both feet away from each other and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or at a level where you are comfortable squatting. Hold the pose and take five deep breaths. This pose can be done with the support of a chair, by holding the back of the chair in front of you, or the wall as you stand in front of it.
It is a strong pose, so ensure you are comfortable remaining in this position. It helps boost circulation, strengthens the glutes and lower back muscles, and alleviates any lower back pain, as well as act as a hip opener. The glutes form a group of three muscles that make up our buttocks – gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. They support our lower back and legs.
Squats like these relax the perineal muscles, reducing the chance of a tear if delivery is in this position. These squats also tone and strengthen your pelvic floor area to cut down the risk of developing continence problems pre- and post- pregnancy. If you’d like to challenge yourself, feel free to try a variation. Place your left forearm on the left thigh and stretch the opposite arm over the right ear while in the Goddess position. Repeat on the other side.
Garudasana or Eagle pose
Another pose which will help you have a safe delivery is the Garudasana. This is a balancing pose that can be done next to a wall for support or with hands on a back of chair. Standing with your feet hip-width apart or slightly wider, place both hands on the waist (or chair) for support. Bend both knees as if you are sitting on an invisible chair. Then lift the left leg and cross over the right knee or thigh, if comfortable tuck the left foot behind the right calf muscle. Then for the arms, cross both arms at the elbows in front of your chest. Beneficial for leg strength, particularly the thigh muscles and glutes, and the muscles on the shoulder blades or rather upper back, which needs strengthening as a mother’s breasts gets heavier while her body readies itself for breastfeeding.
Utkasana: Chair pose
As the name describes, you can do this with a chair itself or wall support. Standing with feet hip-width apart or slightly wider, place your hands on a chair in front of you or as demonstrated in the photo. Bend both knees but keep the knees above the heels and not over the toes to prevent injuries to the knee joints. For mothers in the final months of pregnancy, stand with feet wider apart from each other for stability. As an option you can lift you arms towards the ceiling as if you are stretching upwards, while maintaining Utkasana. Hold the position and breathe deeply for 10 to 15 seconds. This yogic chair pose builds strength in thighs, glutes and lower back, including your core muscles which you’ll need during the pushing stages of delivery.
Stay healthy and have a safe delivery!
Text by Susan Tam
Photos by Joanna Audrey
Descriptor: Susan Tam is a certified yoga instructor with over a decade of yoga experience, certified under the 450 training hours programme organised by the Malaysian Association of Yoga Instructors (MAYI). Her prenatal yoga instructor certification is qualified by Surya Yoga’s 20-hour intensive training programme. She and partner Joanna Audrey offer prenatal yoga classes at Fitology Bangsar, every Saturday at 2.30pm. Find their practice here.
For other yoga-related articles, you can also read Stretch, Open, Breathe: 5 Yoga Moves to Alleviate Pregnancy Back Pain and Prenatal Yoga Myths, Debunked.