Just as each woman journeying towards Mamahood is unique, every trimester of pregnancy brings about different experiences—both wondrous... and, well, less than glamorous. From a glowing complexion to backache and swelling, our bodies go through incredible changes as we nourish and grow the Little Ones within us. Whether or not you practiced yoga before pregnancy, prenatal yoga is an excellent way to stay fit, connect with Baby, and prepare for labor as you journey through all the ups and downs of becoming a Mama.
Today we’re sharing six yoga poses you can begin today, which are ideal for women in their 1st trimester.
1. Easy Pose
What better way to begin your prenatal yoga practice than by connecting with your growing Baby. After all, this practice is for you both! Begin by finding a comfortable seat. Bringing one hand to your heart and the other to Baby, grow tall through the spine. Let every inhale fill your belly, making lots of space for your Little One. With every exhale, draw Baby in & up into a cozy abdominal hug. Now is the perfect time to contemplate a special wish or intention for your pregnancy journey. Continue for 5-10 breaths.
Tip: Sitting on a bolster or block will keep your hips comfortable and relaxed so you can focus on Baby.
Cat/Cow is a favourite warm-up posture, which promotes spinal mobility while gently working core strength. Begin with a neutral spine, palms beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips. On an exhale, curl your spine into Cat pose, drawing Baby in & up as you drop your gaze to your belly. Really empty your lungs before your next energizing inhale! As you breath in, return to a long neutral spine. Continue for 5-10 breaths.
Tip: Many women experience lower backache as their growing bump may cause them to sway their spine throughout the day. Make a conscious effort not to exaggerate the arch of your “cow” pose, and instead focus on a strong neutral spine position.
3. Open Twist
Gentle twisting not only promotes good spinal health, it also feels wonderful after a night of trying to sleep exclusively on your left side! This twist opens both the chest and back while stretching the inner thigh. Begin in Tabletop position. Extend your right leg along the mat, foot inline with the supporting knee. Inhale to sweep your right arm up as you open your chest to the right side wall. Exhale to lower your right arm, threading it under the left supporting arm. Continue for 3-5 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Tip: Avoid “closed” twists throughout your pregnancy (where your leg and shoulders travel in opposite directions across your midline) . Instead, focus on “open” twists, which won’t over-stretch the muscles and ligaments connected to your growing uterus.
4. Low Lunge
Low Lunge encourages openness through the hips and lengthening along the thighs. Beginning in Tabletop, step your left leg to the outer edge of your left hand. Inhale to sweep both arms up, fingers extending towards the ceiling. As you exhale, focus on lifting through the crown of your head and sliding your shoulder blades down your back to create a nice long neck. Be sure to draw Baby in & up throughout the pose in order to protect your lower back from over-arching. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Tip: To focus on strengthening rather than stretching, vary this pose by simply lifting the knee to straighten the lower leg for a High Lunge.
5. Downward Dog
Did you know Downward Dog is considered by many yogis to be an inversion? While you may not be practicing headstands during your 1st trimester, you can reap the benefits of elevating your heart above your head with this classic pose, including increased oxygen and blood to the brain. Begin in Tabletop position with fingers spread and palms planted evenly on your mat. Inhale to curl your toes under and engage your shoulders. Exhale to lift the knees and straighten your legs. Inhale to create a long spine, and exhale to lower your heels towards the earth. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Tip: Be sensitive to feelings of nausea, which are all too familiar to 1st trimester Mamas. If inverting your torso triggers sickness, try sitting in Staff Pose; extend both legs in front of you as you lengthen your torso towards the ceiling. Hands rest at your sides.
6. Dolphin Pushup
Many prenatal yoga practices focus on opening the hips and strengthening the legs, but don’t forget about your upper body! Dolphin Push-Ups work the upper back, shoulders, chest, AND arms, all while challenging the abdominals – Bonus. Beginning in Tabletop position, lower your forearms to the ground and interlace the fingers. Lift your knees off the ground, to straighten your legs as in Downward Dog. Inhale to hinge forward until your chin hovers above your hands, keeping shoulder blades drawn down your back. Exhale to return to Dolphin Pose. Repeat for 3-5 breaths.
Tip: If the transition from Dolphin Pose to Push-Up position feels too intense for your abdominals, gently lower your knees to the ground for more support.
To make this a complete practice, be sure to end with your favourite resting poses. And, as with every yoga class you enjoy, be sure to listen to your body’s changing needs. We hope these yoga poses help you to feel open and strong throughout your journey!
Breastfeeding Essentials for Doulas and Health Care Practitioners Course- Advance Pricing Ends Oct 31st
This is a five hour comprehensive CAPPA and DONA approved breastfeeding course that Doulas can submit for Doula Certification.
Birth and Postpartum Doulas are a vital source of breastfeeding information for new (and experienced) mothers and their partners. Often the very first birth professional to assist with breastfeeding, doulas play a vital role in shaping a mother's nursing journey.
This 5 hr information information packed DONA approved workshop is perfect for doulas, midwives, nurses, naturopaths, homeopaths and other health professionals working with expecting and new mothers.
Led by Taya Griffin, Internationally Certified Board Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
Expand your knowledge by learning:
1) How to prepare a mother and her partner for their breastfeeding journey
2) How to get breastfeeding off to the very best start in the hospital and at home
3) The importance of skin to skin contact and how to practically implement its use
4) The mechanics and the art of latching a baby
5) How to determine whether a baby is drinking well and getting enough at the breast
6) The basic anatomy and physiology of breastfeeding
7) Holistic and traditional solutions for breastfeeding concerns such as engorgement, sore nipples, blocked ducts and low milk supply
8) Alternative feeding methods including milk expression and milk storage
9) How to help the mother set up a support system to ensure she reaches her breastfeeding goals
This Doula breastfeeding workshop is DONA and CAPPA approved and will provide you with a certificate of completion for you to submit for their Doula Certification.
And to top it all off, ALL retail online and in store will be 15% off from Wednesday, November 22nd-Sunday November 26th.
Written by Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Shannon Vander Doelen
If you’re thinking that you and your partner are ready to start trying to get pregnant, congrats! As a Naturopathic Doctor, I’m a big advocate of optimizing your health, and this is a time like no other to consider the importance of that! Taking tabs of your current state of fertility health, making the necessary diet and lifestyle changes, and correcting for deficiencies are important steps to not only ensure you are feeling fantastic leading into your pregnancy, but also to support your fertility and ability to get pregnant! Dr. Google and stories from friends and family make all of this very overwhelming. Where should you start? I’ve outlined 5 simple things you can (and should!) start doing now if you think you’d like to conceive within the next year to help prepare your body for baby!
1. Get To Know Your Flow
Our menstrual cycle can give us some clues about our fertility health. If you haven’t, start tracking when your period starts and finishes each time you get it. You can also track other symptoms you notice about yourself throughout the month, including any vaginal discharge you have (if it’s like the consistency of an egg white at the midpoint of your cycle, this is a good sign you are ovulating). A healthy menstrual cycle is approximately 28 days, with flow lasting 3-7 days. If your cycles are shorter than 24 days or longer than 35 days consistently, you might want to speak with a healthcare practitioner to do some further investigations into issues that may impact your fertility health.
2. Start Taking a Prenatal
A prenatal vitamin is kind of a like an insurance policy. It covers you for the things you might be missing in your diet. The vitamins and minerals found in a prenatal are not just needed for the baby’s development, but also to support mama during her pregnancy. At the end of the day, the baby is relying on you for ALL of its nutrition, and if you don’t have enough, the baby will steal from you - leaving you deficient (and then tired, or with leg cramps, or headaches, or any other number of things that you just don’t need to feel!) If you’ve been out to try and buy a prenatal you’ll know there are MANY on the market, and they are not all made equal. My recommendation is to find a product that contains active forms of the vitamins (meaning your body can use them right away without having to turn them into something else). Specifically, when it comes to folate, look for a product that contains methylfolate (or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate) as opposed to folic acid - it’s estimated that about 50% of us cannot convert folic acid into methylfolate in our body, and thus cannot use it! This vitamin, as you likely have heard, is essential to prevent neural tube defects and support the baby’s brain and nervous system development. It is also critically important for fertility!
3. Be Mindful Of What You Eat
As we’ve eluded to, what you put in your body is going to impact both your health and fertility and your baby’s health and development! This is an important time to consider what it is that you are eating (and not eating!) and make some swaps and changes. I encourage all of my patient’s to choose a clean diet - full of real, whole foods, and low in processed and refined foods. Ensure you are getting a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (organic if you can!), sufficient dietary protein (at least 1g per kg of your body weight, per day), and healthy fats (which won’t make you fat, I promise!) If you drink more than one caffeinated beverage per day, start to wean yourself down to limit your intake to less than 250mg per day. And, if that doesn’t feel restrictive enough, I also recommend avoiding alcohol during the 3 months before you are trying to conceive. Call me Debbie Downer - but alcohol can act as a toxin to your eggs and impact the genetic health of your baby.
4. Make Your Lifestyle A Priority
Sleep more, stress less, get fit - easier said than done right? A healthy lifestyle is the accumulation of the small things you do throughout the day - a collection of healthy habits creates a healthy lifestyle. And, a healthy lifestyle is important for your ability to get pregnant, a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. If you haven’t had a good excuse to make physical activity (and your diet for that matter) a priority in your life, consider this - women who are overweight (BMI > 35) will try twice as long to get pregnant as those who are a healthy weight. But what might be more challenging is being underweight (BMI < 19), where the time to conception is increased 4-fold! Other important habits to break are smoking and recreational drug use - which can both increase your risk of infertility.
5. Get Your Partner On Board
If you have a partner, then getting pregnant and having a healthy baby is a 50/50 deal! While the focus on fertility support is largely on the person supplying the egg - the person supplying the sperm is equally on the hook! Your ability to become pregnant (and stay pregnant) is impacted by many factors, but the health of the sperm cell that fertilizes your egg is critical. The good news is the factors listed above are relevant for your partner as well, so you can embrace your fertility and ability to get pregnant as a team! If you are eating a clean nourishing diet, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and maintaining a healthy body weight, but your partner is smoking like a chimney, eats poorly and never exercises, you might run into some troubles. Speak with your partner about how important it is that he takes steps to improve his health too, or encourage him to book a visit with his healthcare practitioner!
The average couple is pregnant within 3 months of trying (and 85% of couples are pregnant within 1 year!) - so statistically speaking we have no reason to expect that you won't be able to get pregnant! In the spirit of health optimization, taking time to support your (and your partner’s) health can improve your fertility for a healthy and happy pregnancy!
If you want to discuss your menstrual cycle, find out what prenatal vitamin is right for you, or get support in making dietary and lifestyle changes, reach out to a Naturopathic Doctor who focuses in fertility and pregnancy! I am currently accepting new patients at Toronto Yoga Mamas and invite you in for a complimentary meet and greet consult to chat further! It is my passion in practice to work with couples to help them start their family with the healthiest first steps.