When I was pregnant the first time, I read every book from the library that I could (as long as they weren’t too fear-mongering and anti-home/natural-birth). One of the books I read had some yoga/relaxation exercises in them. I’m not sure which book it was, but I think it may have been Choosing Waterbirth. [I remember that it was written by Aviva Jill Romm, and was about water birth… but none of the books by Romm sounded right, so I think I misremembered. 🙂 This one sounds right, and it is in my old library.] Anyway, when I had the book, I wrote down the yoga/relaxation exercises and kept a copy of it in my computer. It was pretty neat, but I never liked that I had to watch the clock to know how long I had held a position, or keep count to know how many times I had done a particular move. One of the things I did recently, was to make an audio file of the exercises, so I could put it on an mp3 player, and just do the exercises with voice guidance, and not worry about counting or timing anything. [See below.]
For the past five years, I have basically not even looked at this — perhaps I dragged it out a few times when I was pregnant the second time, but I don’t remember doing it. This time, however, I started looking through my “birth and baby” files, and came across it. Even before I knew for sure I was pregnant, I thought I’d start doing these exercises, because I remembered it as being relaxing, and making me feel good and refreshed. And perhaps it helped me have an shorter labor the first time.
After I found out I was pregnant, I did the relaxation exercises for a few days, and then one day I didn’t do them. The next day was the first day I started spotting. Then the next few days I did the exercises, and had no spotting. Then again, for whatever reason, I didn’t do the exercises, and that night I bled red. As part of “taking it easy,” I didn’t do the relaxation exercises or anything else (“just in case” somehow squatting or whatever had been bad) — even though I didn’t think it was due to that, I tried to eliminate anything I thought might possibly have contributed; and these exercises were one thing I knew I had not done in my early pregnancy, even though I did them in later pregnancy. And each night I bled (although not much). Always in the back of my mind, though, was the realization that, rather than bleeding when I did the exercises, I only bled when I did not do the exercises.
Call it a coincidence. Call it superstition. But I started doing the exercises again, and haven’t had any spotting much less any bleeding since. You’d better believe I’m going to do these exercises every day. [I know. I know that doesn’t have anything to do with it! I know that! But I’m still going to do them… just in case.]
Below is the link so you can listen to it (and I think you can also download it to your computer, if you want to put it on your mp3 player or burn it to a CD or something). I believe that these moves are fairly mild and basic, but there are some things to keep in mind:
- during pregnancy, your body makes relaxin, which helps your pelvis to loosen and move for birth, but also can make it easier for you to overstretch and overextend your body during stretching exercises, so please do not hurt yourself!
- some of these exercises talk about “walking your torso down to the floor” while you stretch your legs — do this in moderation, taking into account your current level of flexibility and the size of your belly (if pregnant) — 35 weeks is not the perfect time to begin working on the splits — you will hurt yourself
- late in pregnancy is also not the time to begin squatting for the first time in 20 years! You may wish to skip the squatting entirely, or at least support yourself with your hands, or only do a partial squat.
- Squatting is beneficial, but if you’re not used to it, you are more likely to hurt yourself by overdoing it. Go slow, and work up to it.
- Some of the moves are supposed to be held for 20, 40, or 60 seconds — if this is too much, feel free to come out of the move early — this is not some sort of competition, and you won’t get any points for hurting yourself by overstretching!
- if the deep breathing causes you to feel lightheaded, stop
- and, of course, consult your midwife, doctor, or other health professional before beginning this or any other exercise 🙂
Now, without further ado, here is the 30 minute relaxation exercise mp3:
[Update — I did end up miscarrying soon after writing this.]