Practicing yoga during pregnancy promotes strength, stamina and flexibility and can help relieve some of the common physical discomforts of pregnancy. It also brings emotional balance, providing for relaxation and cultivation of inner awareness. Finding a local class near you can be a wonderful way to build community with other moms. Click here for a handout with instructions for sample yoga poses.
- Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth with Kundalini Yoga and Meditation by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa
- Prenatal Yoga, Shiva Rea – Prenatal Yoga DVD
- Preparing for Birth with Yoga, Updated Edition: Empowering and Effective Exercise for Pregnancy and Childbirth – by Janet Balaskas
One midwife that I know says that it’s clear to her (having experienced thousands of births), the more active your pregnancy, the easier your birth experience will be. As a result, she gives EACH of her clients a Fitbit to track her daily steps AND offers one free weekly ZUMBA class in her office. This speaks volumes to me about the importance of fitness in pregnancy. One of my teachers compares childbirth to a marathon–it requires preparation! So what can you do?
- Track Steps - If you don’t have one already, get yourself a FitBit or other device to track your steps on a daily basis. Aim to hit 10,000 steps/day.
- Pregnancy Movement Class – Look for Pregnancy movement classes such as Pregnancy Zumba or Pregnancy Belly Dance..
- Swim – Get in the pool! It is one of the most amazing feelings to be in the water when you are pregnant, because you don’t feel pregnant! The weightlessness gives you a feeling of buoyancy, which is well worth it, even if you don’t swim laps. J
Learning to release muscle (and emotional!) tension can help to relieve as well as prevent physical discomfort during pregnancy as well as childbirth. Regularly practicing techniques such as breath awareness, massage, affirmations and visualizations will improve your ability to relax under any circumstances. Click here for a handout with instructions for a few simple relaxation techniques.
A Birth Doula is a person who provides emotional, physical and informational support to a woman and her family while giving birth. Statistics show that the presence of a doula can shorten the length of labor, and reduce the incidence of cesarean births and other interventions. Some of the things you might expect from a Birth Doula include:
- Stays with the woman throughout the labor
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
- Assists a laboring woman and her partner to get the information she needs in order to make informed decisions.
Dona international– Locate a Doula near you
The Birth Partner – Revised 4th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions – This is a manual for birth partners. Learn how a birth partner (or doula) can support a woman in childbirth with practical hands-on tips.
ALTERNATIVE BIRTH BLESSINGS AND RITUALS
There are many ways to honor an expectant mother, her baby and her family. In our culture, the most common form of celebration is a Baby Shower. Here are some other forms of birth blessings that have been practiced in traditional cultures around the world:
- Belly Painting – Celebrate your body by decorating your belly with body paint or henna
- Belly Cast – Memorialize your pregnant form with a 3-D Belly Cast
- Bead Ceremony – Ask friends and family to choose a bead or beads of significance. Sit in a circle and have each person present the bead and their blessing for you and your baby. String the beads together to make a Birth Bracelet or Necklace. Wear the bracelet for the remainder of your pregnancy or during birth to remind you of their words.
- Celebration of Creation – it is said that the soul enters the baby’s body on the 120th day after conception (roughly the fourth month of pregnancy). Everyone prays for the mother’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being so that she is strong and able to pass those qualities through herself to the baby. Food, music, dance, singing, whatever the new mother would love.
- Meal Train – Use a website to help groups of friends and families arrange meals (or other services) for the family once the baby is born.
- Candle Circle – when mom goes in to labor, her family and friends light a candle and visualize her being strong. Here are the instructions to give to participants along with a candle:
We are inviting you to participate in our Candle Circle of Love. When we are in labor, we will call the first person on our Candle Circle phone list and let them know it is time to light their candle and begin the phone chain. That person calls the next person on the list and so on. When you are called, light your candle, send a wave of love our way and envision us being strong in labor. Hold us, our baby and our birth attendants in your heart throughout the day and night. We will reinitiate the phone tree to share the news once our baby is born!
The candle color is green, representing a combination of the excitement of yellow and the tranquility of blue, inspiring us to be both active and peaceful at the same time. Green is the mainstay of the seasons of spring and summer, thus symbolizing birth and growth.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months. Once complementary foods are added, they recommend continued breastfeeding up to 2 years. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and along with complementary foods up to a minimum of 12 months.
- Breastfeeding, Inc. – Extensive library of breastfeeding videos and handouts
- Ameda – Latch-on video and other resources, breast pump sales
- BreastCrawl.org – UNICEF Breast Crawl Video
- Medela - Resources, breast pump sales
- Breast Pumps Direct – Breast Pump sales. Free Shipping, competitive prices
- Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) – Database of drugs to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed, includes data on maternal and infant levels of drugs, possible effects on breastfed infants and on lactation, and alternate drugs to consider.
Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Myla Kabat Zinn
A holistic guide to finding peace, enjoyment and fulfillment in the everyday work of parenting at all stages.