I almost don’t even want to admit that I taught prenatal yoga for years before I actually got pregnant. I voiced concerns over this in my training years ago and my teachers and other students actually assured me that it was a good thing that I didn’t bring in all of my own biases. Now that I’ve been pregnant twice, that might be true and I did teach safely. The only thing that really makes me cringe is that I used to honestly believe prenatal yoga could help women prep for labor and now I basically think that’s garbage. I might get some heated comments about this but I think how labor goes has almost nothing to do with a birth plan and almost everything to do with luck because there are so many factors involved. Now, having said that, I do think being physically active and lowering stress is essential during pregnancy and can’t hurt during labor.
Don’t turn pregnant women away and don’t panic when they show up. Here are some general tips or things I say to the pregnant women who show up to my (non-prenatal) classes:
- Suggest they arrive early and let any other instructors know about their pregnancy for future classes. (Throw your fellow instructors a bone – none of us want to assume plus it’s safer for the student so the instructor can offer more options!)
- Encourage them to listen to their own body. It sounds cliche but it’s so true that an expecting mother just won’t feel quite right when something is dangerous for the baby.
- No lying prone (on the belly). Basically, if the women is far enough along to tell you or show, it’s safe to just eliminate lying on the belly (aka baby!).
- Limit time flat on back. It is okay to be on the back for a few moments, as a transition between movements, etc. but don’t let the student lie on her back for any extended amount of time.
- Gentle twisting is okay!!! I want to shout this one from the rooftops because think about anyone’s daily life – twisting a little to put on a seatbelt, turning to grab something from a shelf, etc. Many pregnant women hear they can’t twist at all but open and gentle twists are safe, just fine and feel good in the back.
- Tell them to be conscious of getting light-headed in forward folds or when pushing themselves and have them back off and take lots of breaks.
- Offer support for any balance poses – have the student place one hand on a wall, ballet barre, etc. since balance can come and go during pregnancy and falls are no joke for an expecting mom.
- Last but not least, pregnant women are NOT disabled. It is so important for so many reasons (click here for my 10 Reasons to Workout While Pregnant) for these students to get some physical activity and, while they should be careful, encourage them so they stay active! If a woman was super active before pregnancy, you’d be surprised what she can do plus one!
I hope these tips help to ease your mind the next time you see a pregnant woman walk through the door of your class!