Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

For every pregnant woman, the journey from conception to childbirth should be a wonderful experience. Fernandez Hospital is actively developing methods to make this path problem-free and smooth for mothers-to-be. A woman’s body during pregnancy is as fragile as a newborn baby, and we therefore understand the importance of fostering the well-being of the home in which a new life grows.

Yoga has been glorified through the ages for its varied benefits. With changing times, prenatal yoga has been gaining popularity to aid expectant mothers through an easy childbirth. If practiced right, under the guidance of experienced yoga instructors, prenatal yoga is a boon to pregnant women during and after childbirth.
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To promote the importance of Prenatal Yoga and its benefits, we are proud to collaborate with Millena Veruska Sehgal, a yoga instructor from Brazil. She began yoga study in 2010, and in 2011 moved to India for training at Rishikesh and Dharamshala to further strengthen her roots in the science of yoga.

An amalgamation of her expertise in yoga and her dedication towards health and fitness of mother and child has driven her to train further in childbirth education and labour support in Brazil as well as India. Currently, she is a Hatha Yoga instructor, Doula (labour support) and Childbirth Educator, helping pregnant women and couples to prepare for childbirth, assisting during delivery and providing post-partum support.

Sandra Kapoor, a satisfied mother, has this to say: “I was very anxious in the first months of my pregnancy due to some health problems. I was told by my obstetrician that Fernandez Hospital offers yoga classes and it would be a good tool to deal with my anxiety and also to prepare for the delivery. The yoga classes not only helped me to relax physically and mentally but also gave me a more positive attitude towards my pregnancy.”

One might wonder, why go to a prenatal yoga instructor when there is the World Wide Web? Millena says, “You find all the information on Google, but when in class, there are specific asanas to change the position of the baby and suggestions specific to an expectant mother’s reports and hence this personal connect with the yoga trainer helps. A trainer will correct your postures whenever you are not doing it right.

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Q&A Session with the Instructor

Q: What is it like working with pregnant women? What are their basic expectations?

MVS: A lot of women want a normal delivery and come to yoga to prepare their bodies for the same. However, once they come they learn a lot more. They don’t know their bodies intimately yet and with talking about pregnancy being a taboo in India, it becomes all the more difficult for them to open up and allay their fears. Women need to know about their body. They need to be more confident about their delivery.

Q: What do you teach in your classes?

MVS: Most of the yoga class training is on a physical level with a little bit of breathing too. Initially I start off with breathing and stretches. Most of them feel relieved after the class. In general, there are a lot of myths about pregnancy and my effort is to clear those as well.

My approach is simple: I first ask them a lot of questions, followed by a casual talk about how they are feeling and after which I get to the asanas and exercises.

One important aspect I focus in my classes is to make the mothers build a connection with their babies. I create a lot of situations and make them imagine that the baby is right there beside them.

Q: Do you follow any schedule and give them a plan? When is the right time to start prenatal yoga?

MVS: I suggest they take a one hour-class twice a week. They should practice at least once a week on their own. If they practice daily, it is even better. I recommend eight classes of one hour each per month till delivery.

In general, the right time for prenatal yoga would be after 12 weeks. They can also choose to come in at 9 or 10 weeks and continue until delivery.

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Q: Any memorable moment of a student being very happy with your inputs and classes?

MVS: A lady spoke to me about her hormonal issue of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH). She had a miscarriage previously and her present delivery was also considered to be highly risky. After researching information, I recommended certain yoga postures for her to practice regularly. Prenatal yoga also helped her with relaxation and confidence. Eventually, the doctor suggested that she could go for a normal delivery.

I built up her confidence, and at the time of delivery, she gave birth naturally in 1.5 hours. I want to specify this case because the most important aspect of my training is building confidence.

Q: What is your experience of working in India?

MVS: Initially, I thought people wouldn’t accept me easily but, surprisingly, they received me very well. People are very reserved here and I am very vocal. This helps them open up with me easily and they end up sharing a lot of information and treating me more as a friend.

Q: What is the percentage of pregnant cases that do not suggest doing yoga?

MVS: Very rare. A doctor doesn’t suggest practicing yoga if there is any complication. One of the cases when they shouldn’t be doing yoga is when they have the problem of a low-lying placenta.

Q: How popular is yoga before delivery in other countries?

MVS: Very popular. It is a safe way to exercise.

Birthing Ball Methods and Benefits

From 27 weeks onwards, I work with the Birthing Ball and recommend a lot of squatting. These are the benefits:

Sitting upright on the Birthing Ball:

– increases the blood flow to the placenta, uterus and the baby
– provides counter pressure to the perineum
– provides comfortable support for knees and ankles
– can increase the pelvic outlet as much as 30%, which encourages the baby to descend into the pelvis

4Putting all of your upper bodyweight on the Birthing Ball:

– provides relief from back pain
– takes the weight off your wrists
– encourages rotation of a posterior baby

Squatting and its Benefits

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Trimesterwise Suggestions

Cautious practice of understanding your body, by constantly listening to it, is the key to getting through pregnancy with utmost ease. Apart from the previously cited benefits of practicing Yoga during pregnancy, the instructor guides you through exercises and asanas which help in building flexibility in the muscles required during childbirth. As the body changes, so does its need.

 First Trimester Second Trimester Third Trimester
DO’S Stretches and muscle strengthening exercises.

Intense hydration pre and post exercise.

Breathing exercises.

Squat exercises.

Asanas like Vriksasana, Talasana, Trikonasana, Khandasana, Ardhachandrasana, Bhadrasana must be practiced.

Anantasana, Malasana, Shashakasana, Upavishta   Konasana, Marjariasana must be practiced.

Exercise with the ball.

Use yoga props to attain right postures.

Birthing ball exercises are advisable.

DON’TS Asanas which over stretch the abdominal muscles must be avoided. Refrain from holding postures for too long.

Avoid lying flat on the back.

Stretches like deep forwards bends, back bends and deep twists should not be practiced.

No lying down after 20 weeks.

If one feels dizzy or ill, do not continue with the exercises using the birthing ball.

Inversions are a complete ‘no-no’

Practicing yoga under proper guidance will help you learn to avoid tightening the body due to pain during childbirth. Inversions are a complete ‘no-no’ during the third trimester. Pregnancy is not the time to experiment with inversions if you have never done them.

We believe in caring for our ‘mothers-to-be’ and walking alongside them through this journey. We work towards nurturing the body from inside out, learning from the best, benefitting the mother and child, not only after childbirth but during pregnancy as well. This is but a small step taken by us to make your experience a memorable one.

Look at what the mothers have to say about their prenatal yoga experience.

Mothers Speak:
Hima Bindu:

I have been taking the yoga classes at Fernandez Hospital’s Unit 3 at Jubliee Hills for the past two months. I have to say that I am extremely happy with the whole experience.

Millena is a lovely teacher, taking care of all of us in class, giving each one attention and guidance as per our week of pregnancy.

I especially love the way the class ends with a beautiful relaxed feeling of connection to the baby.  I also like the titbits and tales she tells us, to make us confident in going through this whole pregnancy.

Ritika Mahajan:

Your classes are extremely helpful. For me, it is great to practice breathing, relaxation and to build up strength specifically for my labour. The class is taken in small groups, which is excellent, giving personal attention to everybody and customizing the lesson to suit everybody’s needs. I would certainly recommend your prenatal yoga classes.

Neha Sharma:

I joined Yoga classes so I’ll remain fit during my pregnancy, but there are other benefits I have felt after attending.

It has increased my strength, and reduced anxiety. I feel more energetic, calm and connected to my baby.

Thanks Millena for being an excellent trainer.

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