How Yoga Helped Marie Through Her Pregnancy and Labor


In May 2013 we found out I was pregnant. As excited, as I was to start forming a family, just as petrified I was of damaging this little “thing” forming inside of me. With an advanced daily vinyasa practice I suddenly felt restricted. I was used to doing twists, inversions and jumping back and forth in vinyasa. Now I wasn’t allowed to do any of that and surprisingly enough it made me frustrated and gloomy. What was wrong with me? I was pregnant and it was fantastic. This really wasn’t about me. I was having a baby and it was a miracle and much bigger than my yoga practice. Slowly I realized I was addicted to my sweaty, twisted, invigorating yoga practice and I had to change my perspective A.S.A.P. If anything, yoga had taught me to be ready to adapt and embrace new change and I obviously wasn’t doing that.

What I found with my prenatal practice was something very special. It was a new selfless practice, nourishing for me and my baby. Without it I’m sure my pregnancy wouldn’t have been so easy and comfortable and I definitely wouldn’t have tackled my rather dramatic labor as well as I did.

I slowly started changing my daily yoga practice and it required some mental training. First for all, I needed to get my head around the fact that I was having a baby and that my life would change – not just now, but forever. Also, I was having quite a lot of nausea in my first trimester, so it came very natural not to continue my daily practice as before. I started meditating more to connect with my feelings about having a baby. Also, I adopted a more hatha inspired practice with less vinyasa flow and more standing still poses. I went to prenatal yoga classes. Meet women going through the same as me, mentally and physically. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t crazy!

As my pregnancy unfolded I started incorporating more restorative poses to replenish and rejuvenate my tired and wobbly body and when I felt like an invigorating vinyasa type of class I would modify, modify, modify!! No up dog, no belly lying poses, no closed twists, no full wheel, no breath of fire and no inversions. And I felt great!! No aches and no pains. This pregnancy thing was a piece of cake, I thought. I started enjoying my newfound body and the practice that followed as I was modifying myself through my practice. I looked forward to practicing yoga and being with the other women going through the same as me. This was my sacred space. The space where I felt strong, where I felt balanced and where I felt spacious (something you don’t always feel when your belly grows and all your organs are being pressed a side). I practiced with a conscious breath , did mock contractions and kegels. The baby grew beautifully and I was getting ready to meet my little man. I had planned a home birth with a midwife and a doula. I had the pool in my apartment, and all the equipment. I was ready! But the little guy didn’t want to show his face.

 

I continued practicing breathing to calm my body, mind and soul as I was getting more and more anxious to get my labor going. Finally on the 11th day past my due date my labor started…on the yoga mat off course. I was relieved….and then I got the fever – a very high fever (106). I was transferred to a hospital in New Jersey. A birthing clinic my midwife, Cara Mulhahn, was very fond of and where natural birthing was considered imperative. The sudden change in my birth didn’t bother me. I had been mentally prepped through my prenatal classes to embrace any changes to my birth plan. At the end of the day what matter was that I delivered a healthy baby boy.

 

At the hospital my new midwife and a doctor saw me every two hours and every time they gave me two more hours to birth naturally, before deciding on whether I should have a cesarean. I knew I was under pressure to deliver (literally speaking), so I decided very early on to focus on my breath and ways of getting my baby to descend quicker instead of panicking about the situation causing adrenaline to rise and my labor to stop. I did pelvic circles, walked around, bounced on a birthing ball, showered standing – all whilst I was having contractions every minute and just wanted to lie on my side doing nothing. But there were no breaks and no drugs to take away the discomfort – just full on labor! I was exhausted but focused, because I didn’t want to have a cesarean and it was NOW OR NEVER!!! So even though I wanted to surrender, I wanted to relax and I wanted to get rid of the discomfort, I stuck with it, because was there anything yoga had taught me then it was to stay with my discomfort, to not react to my emotions and physical discomforts. Eventually it would all be over and had I not done everything in my power to deliver naturally, I would have been devastated. So at 6 cm my midwife decided to dilate me manually to 8 cm and off we went to the delivery room. Soon after my baby boy was born and all the pain was gone. The only thing left was an immense boost of oxytocin (the love hormone) and a newfound curios love towards this new little creature lying in my arms. Finally everything was calm. Finally he was in my arms. FINALLY!