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Yoga Helps Expectant Moms Prepare for Labor & Delivery

If you’re expecting a baby and have never practiced yoga, now is a great time to start!

“Yoga is a low-impact way to get a little exercise, help develop stamina, and stay strong throughout your pregnancy,” said Sally McNally, a charge nurse in the Labor and Delivery Department at Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) and the instructor of Prenatal Yoga classes offered weekly at the CMH New Parent Resource Center. McNally is also a childbirth educator and has been a yoga instructor for 25 years.

According to McNally, prenatal yoga offers pregnant women numerous benefits. Yoga helps with balance which shifts constantly during pregnancy as the baby grows and fluids build up, throwing off the body’s center of gravity. Yoga also relieves tension, helps loosen tight hips, and can relieve back pain. “It also helps women bond with their babies because they think, I’m doing something good for myself, but also for my baby,” McNally says.

Prenatal yoga also helps prepare women for labor. “They are holding yoga poses, so they understand how they can hold a contraction,” continued McNally. “It also helps them with breaths and breathing. They work hard. They sweat a little bit so they get a realistic view of what labor is like.”

McNally’s prenatal yoga class incorporates many common poses. In the class, women practice all the warrior poses, balance poses, triangle pose, tree pose, and poses to strengthen the arms and shoulders. They do exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, and they practice the active resting pose known as “downward dog.” There are no poses using a back-bend in order to avoid stretching the placenta. Such precautions serve as an important reminder that pregnant women should seek a professional yoga instructor who knows what to do to keep them safe while practicing during pregnancy.

“Expectant mothers can practice yoga safely all the way through their pregnancy and can modify any exercise or pose, plus use blocks if needed,” McNally said.

Pregnant woman doing yoga

Practicing prenatal yoga in a supportive environment is good for the mind as well as the body.

Prenatal yoga is also good for the mind. “Many women have body image issues when pregnant,” McNally observed. “They receive warm and caring support by being around other expectant moms in the class at the New Parent Resource Center.” The New Parent Resource Center (NPRC) also offers other classes and services for parents, families, and caregivers.

The prenatal yoga class is held Fridays from 10:00 – 11:30 am at the New Parent Resource Center, located at 2580 E. Main Street in Ventura. The cost is $10 for one class, or $40 for 5 classes and guests may pay at the door. Reservations are not needed or required — just drop by! Women are encouraged to bring their own mats, but some mats, blankets, and blocks are available. For more information, call 805-658-BABY (2229) or email!