Monday, March 14, 2011

Yoga, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Got a couple of questions from expectant mothers about yoga, pregnancy and breast feeding and I thought of sharing my experiences here.  I don't have a medical degree or anything even similar to it so the opinions I'm sharing are purely personal. 

Is it safe to practice yoga while I'm pregnant?
Before anything else, consult your doctor. If he/she gives the go-ahead, then it is up to you to exercise restraint and moderation. 
My decision was to refrain from any form of yoga for the first 3 months. I didn't want to take the risk during the delicate 1st trimester. That being said, there are women who run, bike, and yoga during the first 3 months and who have not reported any adverse effects.

Until when can I practice yoga?
If you have a normal uneventful pregnancy, you can pretty much yoga until the day you give birth. 

What yoga poses should I avoid?
Avoid poses that place any pressure on the abdomen (ex: Chaturanga), have you flat on your back (ex: Supta Padangusthasana) or call for twisting of the abdominal area (ex: Marichyasana). Twisting from your shoulders is ok. Headstands are ok. But to  be on the safe side, do headstands only if you have been comfortable doing them pre-pregnancy. 

What classes should I take? 
Try out a prenatal class. If you want more class options, you can always try a light Sivananda Hatha or Flow class. Just inform the teacher of your pregnancy and ask for the appropriate modifications.
Use props! Chairs, bolsters, blocks, straps and pillows will help steady your pose.

How long after giving birth can I practice yoga again?
Restart your practice when you feel well enough. A normal delivery will usually have a shorter recovery period than a C/S procedure. I gave birth through Caesarean section, and I started doing very light Sivananda Hatha poses after 1 month. I gradually built up the length and intensity of my practice over a 5 month period.

Can I practice yoga while breast feeding?
Definitely! Just pump or feed before practice so that your breasts are empty. Use breast pads to catch those surprise leaks. I used Lansinoh.
Poses like Cobra or Locust may be uncomfortable due to the pressure on the chest area.

Should I throw out my breast milk after yoga practice? 
Some articles say that breast milk produced after exercising tastes sour and contains toxins squeezed out from your system. I consider breast milk precious and didn't want to throw out a batch just because some Google article said so. One day after practice, I decided to taste my own breast milk. *ick* Long story short, it smelled and tasted ok to me and my baby accepted the milk as well. So ladies, don't throw out  your milk even if you have a particularly intense practice. 

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