This is Part 4 in a six part series. If you are just tuning in, I would recommend starting here at Part 1!
It’s International Yoga Day! I absolutely love the fact that there is a whole day devoted to the practice, and that so many people take part in it each year. The studio I am currently studying at is doing an hour and a half practice tonight to celebrate, but after half a week of discussing the technicalities of yoga and walking through and dissecting prenatal practice sequences, I am wiped out. I’d like to think that I am taking part in a Yoga Week.
Today was all about the third trimester (weeks 28-birth), and how to support a woman both in the weeks leading up to her labor, and through the labor itself. While the majority of the discussion was really geared toward women who would like to become Doulas, it was good information for anyone who works with expectant mothers.
The morning was spent discussing interventions, or the disruption of the natural birthing process. Some common interventions (by no means is this list comprehensive) include:
- Use of forceps or a vaccum
- Breaking of the waters or stripping of the membranes
- Restricting visitors
- Denying a woman the right to eat or drink
- Silencing a woman
Needless to say some interventions are more extreme and invasive as opposed to others, so when a woman opts to refuse interventions in her birth plan it is critical that the people who are there to support her during the delivery have a firm understanding of what she considers an intervention and where she is willing to compromise. Birth plans can be an amazing tool, but it is important to remember that they are not necessarily the end all be all either. One of the students shared this quote in class, and I just loved it and think it applies to so many things in life:
Plans are priceless, and plans are useless.
After talking about birth plans we went into the Principles of Lamaze and how we as practitioners can do to help to make a safe and supportive space for a laboring mom. A woman will not be able to labor effectively if she does not feel comfortable or secure, so it is important to consider her surroundings and the people surrounding her.
After a morning of lecture we broke for lunch, and spent the afternoon working through a yoga sequence for the third trimester of pregnancy. The third trimester is a time when a woman will feel less mobile, and has a more difficult time feeling balanced and lithe. Squatting at this period should be worked into gently, so there were a lot of modifications for the squat rather than the malasana (garland pose) that is practiced in the first two trimesters. Also cat/cow is a great pose to practice in the third trimester because it helps encourage the fetus move into position so that its head is facing down and is in the birthing canal.
Day 3 was a lot of sitting and talking, and there was so much to take into account. I feel like my head is overflowing with all the knowledge being poured into it the past three days and I know that it is not even scratching the surface. Creating a child is such a beautiful, complex process that I can’t help but marvel at the miracle of the design. I am so thankful to be a witness to the creation of new life, and love the strong mothers who have come to fully embrace their womanliness and feminine genius. Babies truly are a blessing.
In Part 5 I talk about Pratyahara, or the art of withdrawing the senses, as well as share my experience about a visit to the local library.