Yoga in the 1st trimester of your pregnancy
One of the most frequent questions I get about yoga in early pregnancy is about the safety of the embryo, in particular if you have already gone through the heartbreak of a miscarriage. And even if this is your very first pregnancy, your mind is immediately focused on the growing baby and its safety - and it is therefore our first concern to ensure this.
There is no evidence that doing yoga, or any other exercise, in the first trimester will harm the baby inside of you, or cause a miscarriage. Technically, the embryo is so tiny, it is well protected. But as anything, it's not that straightforward, there are so many factors that make each pregnancy entirely different from any other pregnancy and whilst it is very unlikely that yoga will cause you and the baby harm, it is important that we acknowledge the anxieties and questions you may have - and adjust the practice to keep you both safe.
The first trimester is when your body adapts to the hormonal changes as the baby develops rapidly. This period is vital for the formation of your little one. Exercise in early pregnancy has been linked to a wide range of health benefits, including:
Reduced morning sickness
Less risk of a c-section
Improved blood flow to the placenta
Improved ability to manage weight gain and maintain a healthy weight during and after pregnancy.
Low-impact exercise, such as yoga, is the safest during pregnancy and adding in meditation and breath-awareness can help reduce stress, calm your mind and help with sleep during a time where everything can be in upheaval. In the first trimester, yoga focuses on self-nurture, deep rest, surrender and stillness.
If you are already doing yoga, you can adjust your regular practice to a pregnancy friendly practice. Always speak to your teacher (in confidence) if you are attending classes at the studio as soon as you know you are pregnant so we can adjust your practice accordingly. If you don't want to go public with the pregnancy yet, make sure we know (a) that you are pregnant and (b) you want to keep it secret, then we can work with you to ensure that the adjustments aren't obvious to the rest of the class. We will go through an in-depth health questionnaire with you and may ask you to see your midwife or GP before starting yoga with us.
New, new-ish or experienced Yogini
For mums-to-be that have not been practicing yoga regularly before they got pregnant, a dedicated pregnancy yoga class is best as it will be taught by a teacher with pre-/postnatal training. This class is also suitable for experienced yoginis ready to scale their practice back. We will go through an in-depth health questionnaire with you and may ask you to see your midwife or GP before starting yoga with us.
Can Yoga be harmful for the embryo?
Exercise in pregnancy may be harmful if for instance too much pressure is placed on the womb and embryo. Excessive strain on the joints, muscles, and bones can lead to painful conditions like symphysis pubis dysfunction and exertion can cause overheating and dehydration. You can mitigate these risks by making sure that you stick to a few rules:
Always tell your teacher that you are pregnant so the necessary adjustments can be made for you and the baby's safety and comfort.
Always listen to your body. If you don't feel right, are tired, fatigued and nauseous then it may be best to rest instead of coming to a yoga class. Your body is telling you to take it easy, give yourself permission to do so.
Comfort first, rest when needed, use props - and take breaks to drink and stay hydrated.
Avoid deep twists or anything that will compress the womb or abdomen.
Do not practice deep back bends.
Even if you are an advanced yogini, forget your jump backs. By the same token, avoid planks and strong abdominal work. Remember, this is not a time to try to advance your practice, but rather a time to become more in tune with your body and really listen to what it wants to do.
Avoid breath restriction. Focus on regular inbreaths and outbreaths instead.
You are performing a monumental task of growing a human being. Give yourself permission to be gentle, do something that is soothing and relaxing, something that helps you prepare for an even bigger task ahead of you, the birth of your beautiful baby. We are here to support you, please come and ask any questions you may have.