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Prenatal Yoga

3 Yogic Practices to Help Prepare for Labor & the Fourth Trimester

Birth changes everything. This yoga pose, reflection, and recipe—excerpted from the forthcoming book Birthing Mama—will help you stay open and curious as you move from one phase of life to the next.

Every pregnancy is different for every person. While you may experience joy and excitement at the thought of bringing new life into the world, you can also confront feelings of fear, doubt, and worry about all the changes to come—within your body and your life.

Corinne Andrews knows this all too well. As a Massachusetts-based prenatal and postnatal yoga instructor and mother of two, Andrews has worked with expectant parents for years. Her in-person and online yoga and wellness program, called Birthing Mama, was created as way to support parents in experiencing pregnancy as a “sacred and holistic life event and as a pathway to awakening.”

Now, her course has been adapted and expanded upon in an upcoming book: Birthing Mama: Your Companion for a Wholistic Pregnancy Journey includes week-by-week reflections, yoga, wellness recipes, journal prompts, and more to guide expectant parents through the ups and downs of pregnancy and the postpartum period. Here, Andrews shares an excerpt on how to prepare for labor and the postpartum period—otherwise known as the fourth trimester.

Also from Birthing Mama:

Nurture the First Trimester of Pregnancy With Yoga & Ayurveda

3 Grounding Practices for the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

The Great Wait: How to Stay Centered During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Yoga: A Sequence to Encourage Labor to Begin

Many pregnancies go beyond 40 weeks. As you approach and move past the 40-week point, you may notice an inner urge for labor to begin. This sequence is designed with the intention of getting the show on the road. It also has a sense of playfulness to it, so try to practice and enjoy it without the frustration of the desire for labor to start. Try to wait and trust, letting life unfold as it will while keeping your eye on the goal of holding your baby in your arms.

Remember to stay soft and relaxed as you do this somewhat vigorous practice. If anything feels too vigorous, modify it by doing smaller, slower expressions of the movement and fewer repetitions. Stay centered on your breath and in direct loving communication with the life within your womb.

An illustration of a pregnant woman doing standing side leg lifts in order to prepare for labor
Photo: Illustration by Geraldine Sy

Standing Side Leg Lifts

  1. Begin in Mountain Pose, standing with your feet as wide as needed to be comfortable. Stand tall and still like a mountain, feeling the earth hold and support you. Yield and push down with your whole left side, inhale, and lift your right knee out to the side and as high as is comfortable. Hold on to a wall or chair if you feel at all unstable.
  2. Exhale and place the right leg down. Yield and push down into the right side, and inhale to lift your left knee out to the side and as high as is comfortable.
  3. Go from side to side, breath by breath. Either do this in place or while traveling forward or backward. Each inhalation is a lift up, each exhalation a lowering down and pushing into the earth to receive the next rebound. Keep moving in a rhythmical way for 3 to 10 rounds. Your pelvic halves should begin to feel free and open.

Reflect: What is protection?

Protecting your bubble need not be a rigid or forced undertaking. Protection, in general, can be rooted in fear, which seeks to keep life from interfering with our ideas about how things should be, or it can be rooted in devotion and honoring the sacred, giving it room to breathe and grow.

As you embark on a lifelong journey of responsibility for nurturing and supporting your child, ask yourself what protection has meant to you up until now. Does it mean anything new after the arrival of your little one? In what ways do you feel called to protect this sacred moment in time?

See also: 4 Poses & a Meditation to Ease Postpartum Depression

Recipe: Lactation Cookies

These cookies are delicious and, because of their ingredients, will help encourage your milk production. Send this recipe to a friend or family member and ask that person to make them for you. Or, if you are reading this while still pregnant, make these cookies now and freeze them for later! This recipe makes about two dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons milled flaxseed (or flaxseed meal)
  • 1 cup butter or coconut oil
  • ¾ cup date sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour (1 cup spelt and 1 cup whole wheat, or teff flour for gluten-free)
  • ¼ cup brewer’s yeast
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • 3 cups organic rolled oats
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts, cashews, or almonds
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Directions: 

  1. Combine the water and flaxseed in a small bowl.
  2. Beat together the butter, sugar, eggs, molasses, and vanilla in a medium bowl, then stir in the flaxseed mixture.
  3. Combine the flour, brewer’s yeast, ­baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ­ginger and cardamom, if using, in a large bowl. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and nuts.
  4. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until smooth.
  5. Using a spoon, scoop out roughly 2 tablespoons of dough at a time and form into balls. Place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Let the cookies cool before enjoying so they don’t fall apart.

See also: A Pelvic Floor Sequence for an Easier Labor + Delivery


Excerpted from Birthing Mama© by 2021 Corinne Andrews. Used with permission from Storey Publishing. Find Birthing Mama prenatal yoga and wellness videos at Wellmode.

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