There are many benefits of yoga for pregnant women. It can help to:
- Improve sleep.
- Reduce stress and anxiety of pregnancy and birth.
- Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth.
- Decrease lower back pain, nausea, headaches and shortness of breath.
Aside from the physical benefits of yoga for pregnant women. There are many emotional benefits of attending a class focussed on an incredibly important life event.
The importance of support during pregnancy:
The fact that we possess an organ that grows from the size of an orange to a watermelon is unreal. Our bodies accommodate amazing changes. We take on all these hormonal changes and pressure in our body as we prepare to give birth to a human being that we have created, carried and nourished!
Society seems to expect us to take this all in our stride and carry on ‘as normal’. Many of us remain working full time either in paid work in an office or organisation or unpaid work at home. This is without any assistance or accommodation for what we are going through. Not to mention all the pregnancy symptoms many of us endure that aren’t widely discussed.
When I trained to become a prenatal yoga teach I met a number of fabulous midwives. Their knowledge was invaluable and their passion to help women to birth their babies was admirable. And so it’s clear that care providers in Ireland believe that prenatal yoga can help Mums in both antenatal care and birth.
Research proving the benefits of yoga for pregnant women:
Newcastle and Manchester Universities researched the benefits of yoga for pregnant women. In 2014 they published a paper in the journal Depression and Anxiety by academics from Newcastle and Manchester Universities. It concluded that women who attended a yoga class a week for eight weeks had decreased anxiety compared to those who received normal antenatal treatment.
Dr James Newham, a research associate at Newcastle University, said: “It is surprising this has never been looked at before, we have long believed that it works but no research had been done to back up the theory.
“We have now gone some way to prove that it can help. It was not a small affect either. This has the potential to really help mothers who are feeling anxious about their pregnancy.”
A single session of yoga was found to reduce self-reported anxiety by one third and stress hormone levels by 14%.
They made similar findings at both the first and final session of the eight-week intervention.
For many women it can be frustrating that they need to be more cautious about exercising during pregnancy.
As Dr Sarah Jarvis Clinical consultant commented in this article in The Examiner “Your ligaments naturally soften and stretch during pregnancy, which makes it easier for your baby’s head to fit through your pelvis, but which also makes you more prone to painful strains,” Jarvis says. “Your centre of gravity also shifts, as your womb and breasts enlarge, which can put you off balance.”
Exercise and keeping active is still so important, both for the body and also for your mental health.
“Exercise is important for everyone, but never more than when you’re pregnant. It keeps the heart strong, muscles toned, and being fit may even mean shorten labour,” Jarvis adds. “But it’s important to make allowances. Low-impact exercises, designed for pregnant women are great, and pregnancy yoga can help you relax your mind as well as keeping you supple.”
Elaine from Begin with Elaine believes it’s important to prepare mentally and physically for birth of any kind.
‘It’s important that we expect to have a positive birth experience. Everyone on your team should be geared to making that happen. As women we need to understand the benefits vs the risks of intervention prior to it taking place. We should prepare ourselves for different outcomes.’ She says.
‘No birth is the same. It’s important to understand that. Natural childbirth is the ideal way of birthing our babies and for our own recovery. However, in Ireland we have a high level of medical intervention. Elaine continues to say ‘I want women who come to my class to feel empowered to make choices in one of the most important and life-changing times of their lives.’
Pregnancy focussed classes give you an opportunity to talk and think about these things.
It’s not just about the exercise or the relaxation. It’s also about the support that you get and the information that you get from both your teacher and other women in your class. This is another one of the benefits of yoga for pregnant women
Elaine’s style of teaching is supportive.
She uses Hatha yoga poses particularly selected for their benefits for the pregnant body and for birth. She shares information about pregnancy. Her follow up emails with her class each week outline different information about pregnancy and birth that might not be as widely available as you might think in mainstream media.
At the moment it’s not possible to have in person prenatal classes so Elaine teaches her classes online. Each week she starts the class by opening the microphone so that anyone can comment on how they are feeling or ask questions. When everyone is ready she closes the microphones and starts the class. At the end she repeats this in case anyone needs to ask something about the class.
If you would like to join my class please visit
If you have any questions about yoga for pregnancy please contact me at
Look after yourself… you are growing a human!