I practised prenatal yoga through all three of my pregnancies. As I lay in bed last Thursday with the baby, I sent my yoga teacher a text message briefly outlining my labour and birth for her to read out to my fellow preggy ladies during class that night. As I typed my eyes welled up with tears as I realised just how big a role yoga has played in my ability to birth, to breathe, and to get me through some of the most challenging moments pregnancy and labour could throw at me.
During our classes we practised breath, and we would hold say a squat or another asana which gradually increased in difficulty and practise breathing through it (in for four and out for four), as though it were a contraction. We used sound; humming, ahhing and more recently the sound “shhhh” which I used when in labour this time around.
Each birth I have practised these skills, and I have worked really hard to let go and flow with my body throughout the labour. I used to get really annoyed when KB would compare pregnancy and birth to sport (sport = the language he speaks 😉 ) but now I can really see how good birth preparation and hard work are akin to training for a marathon. For some reason when I was pregnant with the Pixie I thought labour would be easy because I had done it once before. (Don’t ask me why… hilariously ridiculous… I can see that now!) With each subsequent birth there have been new challenges – with Pix it was coming to terms with the fact that it was actually going to hurt despite previous experience! And yoga (along with a kick arse support team) is the number one thing I can thank for keeping me calm. This time around I didn’t have any moments of panic, I maintained my breathing most of the time and I drew on what I had learnt to get me through.
Now, post birth, I use yoga breathing when I’m feeling challenged emotionally, when baby is crying or when I’m feeling overwhelmed with having three small children (!)
I have tried to imagine what might have happened to me when I reached the peak of the strongest contractions… without yoga and dedication, would my support team have been enough?