In pregnancy the body can feel tight and at the same time loose. This can be confusing, in terms of how to manage both of these seemingly conflicting experiences.
The tightness can come from the almost 50% increase in blood volume that occurs to help nourish the baby. You may also experience swelling (edema) as well as the limbs feeling tight, as the veins and arteries are at higher capacity.
Looseness comes from the relaxin hormone, whose purpose is to soften the ligaments around pelvis to make birthing possible. Unfortunately this can lead to discomfort prior to labor if the pelvis becomes unstable.
Yoga can offer wonderful ways to address each of these concerns. Stretching and dynamic movement, especially joint rotations, help to keep the fluids of the body flowing as they should. This can alleviate stiffness and help prevent or take down swelling.
Relaxin enters the system fairly early in pregnancy which means that stretching must be coupled with stabilizing and strengthening actions to ensure that the ligaments supporting the joints are not over stretched.
The great news is there are plenty of very safe and effective ways to maintain and even build strength during pregnancy.
I’ll share my favorite birth preparation pose that has the perfect combination of hip opening stretch, alongside excellent strengthening & stabilizing: Goddess Pose.
- Make sure that your heels are directly below your knees.
- Align your feet in the same line with your thighs.
- Press your weight down toward the base of the big toes and press the knees back.
- This helps strengthen the inner thighs.
- A great practice is to see if you can hold the pose for 20 breaths. This equates to about 1 minute, which is the length of an average contraction. If you can breathe through this challenge and keep your heart and face soft, you are doing excellent preparation for labor!