When you're expecting your first child, it's natural to think about the sleepless nights that will follow as soon as you give birth. But many pregnant women soon discover that the sleepless nights actually begin months before the baby arrives. 75% of pregnant women experience these sleep disturbances. Waking up in the middle of the night is common due to several reasons.
We all know that it takes a lot of energy to grow a human, so feeling fatigued more than usual during pregnancy is perfectly normal. During this time, you're exerting more energy, and all of the physical and hormonal changes can impair your ability to relax and fall asleep. Aside from changing your diet and buying a maternity pillow, prenatal yoga can actually help women go to sleep and stay asleep!
What is Prenatal Yoga and How Can It Help You?
According to Mayo Clinic, prenatal yoga, like other types of childbirth preparation classes, is a flexible approach to exercise that promotes stretching, mental centering, and focused breathing. According to research, prenatal yoga is safe and can provide numerous benefits to pregnant women and their babies.
Prenatal yoga benefits include improved sleep especially in the third trimester, reduced stress and anxiety, increased muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance for childbirth, and a reduction in lower back pain, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath. Yoga is a natural stress reliever because it progresses from focused breathing to gentle stretching and postures to a cool down (savasana). Our bodies are more in sync with our natural sleep patterns when we are experiencing less stress during the day.
By practising yoga daily or regularly, it will help with the sleep rhythm which leads to falling asleep easier every night. As pregnancy progresses, the center of gravity also shifts and this shift causes a lot of changes in the body including weakening of the abdominal muscles, and the pressure shifting to the back. This creates lower back pain.
Fortunately, prenatal yoga and poses such as the Chakravakasana (arching and swaying the back while on your hands and knees) will gently boost the strength of the abdominal muscles. Other yoga poses can also help relieve back pain and tension on the lower back.
Prenatal Yoga Poses That Help You Sleep Better
The most important thing to remember about yoga for pregnancy is that it should only be done gently to help relieve aches and pains, improve sleep, and promote mental focus. We referred to The Bump for these prenatal yoga poses, but please consult your doctor first before doing any of these. It’s just a safety precaution for you and your little one! Here are 3 prenatal yoga poses that should help you calm your nerves for a better sleep:
Standing Forward Fold
Begin with your feet about hip-width apart on your mat. As you exhale, slowly hinge your body toward the ground. You can use whatever feels comfortable (your toes, knees, or calves), or you can use blocks if you have them. You can also try cradling each elbow in the opposite hand and rocking back and forth like a ragdoll.
Hold this pose for 8 to 10 breaths, deeply inhaling and exhaling. You can lift up slightly with each breath if you prefer, or simply remain still.
Proceed on all fours with your palms firmly planted on the mat, knees about hip-width apart, and toes curled under.
Drop your belly, lift your tailbone, and look up to the ceiling as you inhale for the cow pose (but be careful not to gaze too high as this can over stretch your belly). Exhale by rounding your spine, tucking your chin into your chest, and drawing your pubic bone forward. Repeat this for 5 to 10 complete inhales and exhales.
The Goddess Pose is one of the best poses for opening up your hips and strengthening your legs and pelvic floor while pregnant. It can also help you burn off some extra energy before bed.
After standing up, spread your feet along your mat (with your toes pointing outward on each side). Exhale as you squat, allowing your hands to rest wherever they are most comfortable (or place them on your hips).
Stand up when you inhale and bend your knees when you exhale. Do this for about 10 completel breaths.
Yoga Poses You Should Avoid
Yoga comes in a variety of styles, some more strenuous than others. For pregnant women, prenatal yoga, hatha yoga, and restorative yoga are the best options. But not all yoga poses are safe during pregnancy.
As such, you should avoid hot yoga, which involves performing vigorous poses in a room that has been heated to higher temperatures. Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, is not recommended for pregnant women because it can cause hyperthermia, putting both mom and baby at risk.
In conclusion, make sure to talk to your health care provider first before you begin any yoga exercise. Even if they were recommended in this post or other blogs, your doctor should be consulted first, especially if you are at risk of preterm labor or have a medical condition.