You may think, “Yoga is yoga! Sure I’m pregnant, but why not go to a general population class and modify poses as needed?” To some extent, yes, downward facing dog is going to be the same no matter where you take class. However, there is something so special and unique about a prenatal yoga class that can’t be experienced along side your nonpregnant classmates.
Here are my top 10 reasons why you should seek out a prenatal yoga class immediately. Join your fellow pregnant yogis and glory in the glow of birth together!
Community The Beatles said it best “I get by with a little help from my friends.” The transition of pregnancy is unlike any other metamorphic experience you’ll go through in your life time. Whether it is your first child or your fourth, there is a dramatic shift of mind, body, and soul during these 40 something weeks. Being immersed in a community of others going through a similar journey can be reassuring and comforting. Especially in a city like New York, where many people show up with out their family around, it’s essential to find a supportive tribe.
Alleviating aches and pains You’ll be hard pressed to find a pregnant person who can say they cruised through pregnancy without some sort of ache or pain to speak of. Given the massive changes to the body, it’s expected that there will be discomfort along the way. Luckily, in prenatal yoga, class is designed to target common areas of discomfort and offer specific poses to help create more comfort and ease.
Connecting to baby Even though you carry your baby in your body for 40 something weeks, it can be easy to simply go along with your day and not pay attention to your growing child. In prenatal yoga class, we offer a quiet space to step out of your daily life and connect inward. Yoga means “to yoke, union” and often refers to the mind/body connection. In prenatal yoga, we take this “yoking or union” as the connection between parent and child.
Aligning your pelvis. We’ve all heard stories of long arduous deliveries and of babies that literally flew out. One determinant factor in a quicker functional labor is optimal fetal positioning. To help ensure your baby is well positioned you need to have an aligned pelvis, pelvic floor, pelvic ligaments, and uterine ligaments. Many poses we incorporate into a prenatal class work to create balance and proper alignment.
Learning physical coping skills There was a study out of Thailand providing evidence that a regular yoga practice in the last 10-12 weeks of pregnancy improves maternal comfort in labor and may facilitate labor progress. The practice of yoga raises the threshold of tolerance to discomfort. So by allowing yourself to be safely uncomfortable, you can start to learn physical coping tools to handle strong sensations.
Learning emotional coping skills I remember interviewing Barbara Harper, a well know proponent of water birth for my podcast and she stated “Pregnancy happens just as much between the ears as between the legs.” At first, I paused to think about the truth of that statement, but later realized that mental and emotional coping skills are just as important as physical tools for labor. If the laboring person is internally going down a dark rabbit hole, it won’t matter what their birth posse is doing physically to help them. In prenatal yoga, we explore getting to the other side when the birthing person hits a crisis of confidence and needs to emotionally find coping skills.
Learning breath connection It’s pretty undeniable that pranayama is just as important as asana for a yoga practitioner. For the pregnant student, this awareness of breath can be a major support during labor and birth. Breathing and how one breathes plays a central part of any birth experience. Yoga class is the perfect time for the pregnant yogi to truly hone this skill. Laying the foundation for solid breath connection can greatly support the pregnant student. And frankly it will serve anyone facing physical or emotional discomfort.
Education We interweave childbirth education themes and current birthing trends into our classes. Our intention is that the pregnant student will feel more confident and prepared to make conscious, educated decisions during pregnancy, labor, delivery and parenthood.
Finding autonomy As doula and as a prenatal yoga teacher, I frequently hear statements like “my care provider will not allow me to push in on all 4’s.” Or “The hospital doesn’t allow me to eat once admitted.” There are constant constraints being put upon the pregnant and birthing person (many not based on evidence based research) and it’s easy to lose one’s sense of autonomy. In class, we encourage the students to start deeply listening to their body, their desires, and their ability to make choices. We remind them that this is their body, their pregnancy, and their birth. You have a right to make choices that best suit you and your family. You don’t need to make decisions based off routine protocols and guidelines.
Learning about your pelvic floor I saved my favorite for last! All too often pregnant people are simply told to “do their kegels.” But following rote advice like that can be detrimental to the pelvic health of the pregnant person as well as affect their labor and delivery.
It’s imperative to have balance in the pelvic floor, not too tight and not too loose. Ultimately we want the pelvic floor to be “springy” like a trampoline which will be beneficial for the descent and rotation of the baby for a vaginal birth. On the inhalation the pelvic floor should release and spread and on the exhalation the pelvic floor should lift and dome. I liken this to the image of a jellyfish. The pelvic floor should also mirror the timing and movement of the respiratory diaphragm.
For those who need to work on softening and releasing the pelvic floor, the practice of soft diaphragmatic breath can help gentle stretch the pelvic floor. For those who need to find more tone, practice drawing the two sitz bones together and engaging the perineum on the exhale.
For my curious friends who want to see the actual movement, grab a mirror and look at your own superficial pelvic floor. You can see the slight lift of the perineum as your engage it and the lowering as it releases. Super cool!!
I hope I have laid my case out for the benefits of prenatal yoga classes. They really are so much more than asana! *Originally published for the New York Baby Show
If only there was a way to script out your “ideal” birth and be guaranteed the experience unfolds in that exact manner. Unfortunately, that’s impossible. However, many of us try to overly plan and seldom allow ourselves to relinquish the illusion of control over the wild nature of birth. In this episode of Yoga|Birth |Babies, I speak with birth doula and Birthing From Within Mentor, Koyuki Smith.
Koyuki and I talk about the Birthing From Within Method and how grasping at information may lead to disappointment and can not assure you the perfect birth. She talks about surrendering to the unexpected and the importance of leaning into personal fears around the perception of birth. This conversation is sure to spark curiosity and inspiration for pregnant people, birth partners and birth workers. Enjoy!
In this episode:
Learn about Koyuki and how she got started in the birthing world.
The background of Pam England and Birthing From Within.
What makes Birthing From Within different from other approaches to Childbirth Eduction
What might be the harm of grasping at information in hopes of having “the perfect birth.”
Finding the balance of supportive information along with deep exploration of one’s perception of birth and birth history
What is a labyrinth?
How the labyrinth is used in Birthing From Within method.
Why the journey out of the labyrinth is just as important as the journey inward.
How a mentor assists and help the parents navigate deeper into exploring birth perceptions
Ways parents can do the Birthing From Within work on their own if they don’t have a mentor they can work with?
One piece of advice or tip for new or expectant parents.
Where to find Koyuki’s work.
About Koyuki Smith:
Koyuki Smith leads classes, workshops, and trainings for birthing parents and birth professionals in NYC and around the U.S. After spending 8 years teaching in NYC public secondary schools, she entered the birth world in 2008 as a birth doula and babywearing consultant, and has been with Birthing From Within since 2014. She is on the Board of Directors of Birthing From Within International, and she is the editor of the Birthing From Within blog, Through the Labyrinth. She loves to think, write, and teach about the universal experiences of initiation and transformation – and especially how art and literature can serve to illuminate, interrogate, and even guide these experiences. She also enjoys kung fu, clogs, and oysters. Koyuki lives in Harlem with her husband, two sons, and a little dog, too.
We’ve all heard “It take a village to raise a child.” And while it sounds like a cliche or catch phrase, those of us who’ve been through or witnessed the transition from maiden to motherhood can understand the incredible importance of a supportive community. In this episode of Yoga|Birth| Babies, I speak with the director of event programming & operations at Motherly, Jessica Pallay.
Jessica and I have a lively conversation about how community has shifted from past generations, the impact of online parenting, and how to find your “posse” during this transitional time. The Beatles were absolutely right, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
In this episode:
Learn a bit about Jessica and Motherly.
How her need for community changed since becoming a mother.
How her sense of community changed since working at such family friendly places like Well Rounded and Motherly.
The importance of having your “parent posse”.
Exploring the current landscape of both working mothers and stay at home mothers compared to generations past.
How community and support has changed from when Jessica and Deb were kids.
Finding community as a working parent.
How online communities have impacted parenthood.
Discovering community when newly pregnant or a new parent.
What surprised Jessica the most about motherhood that she didn’t expect before she had children.
Advice for new or expectant parents.
Where to find Jessica’s work.
Jessica Pallay is the director of event programming & operations at Motherly and the co-founder of the pregnancy community Well Rounded, which was acquired by Motherly in 2019. She’s an experienced writer, editor and content marketer in the pregnancy and parenting space, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Vogue.com, Cheddar and more. She lives in Brooklyn with her two daughters, Libby & Elsie, and her husband Andrew.
Did you know that 20% of the population has a unique brain trait called Sensory Processing Sensitivity aka the “highly sensitive person”? And of course, this is not limited to only adults. Babies and children can also exhibit these traits and are unfortunately are often misunderstood and characterized as “colicky” or “overactive” or “anxious”.
In the episode of Yoga| Birth| Babies, I speak with licensed psychotherapist, global HSP consultant, and leader in the field of high sensitivity, Julie Bjelland. She explains 15 common traits of the HS person and strategies to help parents best support their highly sensitive child. Julie also offers very solid and practical advise to help the highly sensitive parent handle the demands of new parenthood.
In this episode:
Learn about Julie and how she got into working specifically with highly sensitive people.
Defining a “highly sensitive person” (H.S.P.)
Understanding the brain differences of a highly sensitive person.
How the brain differences translate to a highly sensitive baby.
Traits of an H.S. baby that people just attribute to being a “fussy” baby.
Strategies or considerations to make to help support an H.S. baby.
What can be helpful for the H.S. child to thrive in an environment that may be overwhelming or over stimulating?
What happens when you have an H.S. parent and an H..S baby- does it work well or clash?
A non H.S. parent and an H.S. baby- some tools and tactics for finding a functional relationship.
Parenting an H.S. child and a non highly sensitive child.
Tools for deescalating a tantrum.
Handling the demands and stimulation of a new baby or children as a highly sensitive parent.
What the H.S. parent needs to do to find balance.
Julie Bjelland is a licensed psychotherapist, global HSP consultant, and leader in the field of high sensitivity and has helped thousands of highly sensitive people around the world. As an HSP herself, Julie understands what it is like to live with high sensitivity and strong emotions. Julie teaches an online brain-training course for HSPs and is the author of several books. www.juliebjelland.com.
I was recently sorting through old pictures of me “pre-children” and noted how cute and put together I was back then. My hair was cut regularly, my clothes were fun and fashionable and I had a very respectable handbag collection that never contained random lego pieces or pink hair bows. Why did becoming a mother lead to abandoning my fashion sense and falling into the “mom rut” of mainly sporting Lululemon pants, a (mostly) clean top and my hair in a messy top knot?
In this episode of Yoga |Birth |Babies, I speak with fashionista, blogger/writer and founder of Stroller in the City, Brianne Manz. This fun and breezy conversation offers tips and ideas to find fashion within function and reembody your personal style in all stages of motherhood.
In this episode:
Brianne and her fashion background
Starting Stroller In the City
Stepping away from the high fashion world and transitioning into motherhood
Keeping some sense of style while breastfeeding
Tip for avoiding the “mom rut”
Recommendations for go to pieces that can help disguise the all too common “active wear” assemble
Staying fashionable but still functional when pushing a stroller around the city, sitting on the edge of a sandbox in the park and have dirty, sticky hands on you!
How Brianne has maintained her sense of style while juggling work and 3 kids
Brianne’s recommendations for cute, trendy and budget friendly online stores.
Tip and piece of advise for new or expectant parents
Where to find Brianne’s work!
About Brianne Manz:
Once a fashion showroom owner now turned mom and blogger/writer. Brianne Manz lives in New York City with her husband, three children and enjoys their fast paced city life. Her blog Stroller In The City boasts about city living, family travel, kids fashion and all things that are mommy. Being a mom doesn’t mean you need to lose sight of the cool stuff. Brianne has has been featured on the Today Show, E! News, and People Magazine to name a few.
I wish I could say I have a very loving and peaceful relationship with my body and body image; unfortunately, I do not. However, with awareness of this personal flaw, I’ve made great efforts to be mindful of what I say about my appearance and any comments about the physicality of others in front of my children. As my all time favorite composer said so perfectly, “Careful the things you say, children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will see and learn.”
In this episode of Yoga| Birth|Babies, I speak with founders of The Full Bloom Project, Zoe Bisbing, LCSW and Leslie Bloch, LCSW about how to raise children from a perspective of Body Positive Parenting. If you carry some of your own baggage or simply wish to lay a positive body relationship for your child, this conversation will inspire you.
In this episode:
Learn about Leslie and Zoe and what brought them to this work.
What is the Full Bloom Project?
How to create healthy body image from a young age.
Language parents should be mindful of using around their children.
How parents can help a child who may have a bigger body.
Habits and behavior parents can use to pave a foundation of healthy body image.
Habits or behavior parents need to monitor about themselves.
How to ensure children’s caregivers present a united front around body positivity.
Support for a parent come to grips with their own body image beliefs to pass on an unbiased view.
Keeping children out of the world of beauty and comparison.
Suggestions for creating a healthy relationship between kids and food.
Where can you find Leslie’s and Zoe’s work
Extra resources and suggestions:
Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearances Hurts Girls and Women by Renee Engleln, PhD
Intuntive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MsRd
Janet Landsbury – foundation for body positivity parenting – link to her website – popular rye technique – great for very new parents and toddlers
Leslie Bloch, LCSW has focused her therapy career on treating eating disorders based on clinical research data. She strives to keep up-to-date on the most effective treatment modalities in the eating disorders field and to deliver these modalities with fidelity.
Leslie currently uses Christopher Fairburn’s Enhanced Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Eating Disorders (CBT-E) to treat most adults with eating disorders. She uses this modality because, based on the current body of research, it is the most effective treatment for adults with eating disorders. In 2015 she completed the first CBT-E training made available by Professor Christopher Fairburn and Professor Zafra Cooper of the Centre for Research on Eating Disorders at Oxford.
Leslie is certified to treat adolescents with eating disorders using Family Based Treatment (also known as FBT/Maudsley Method) by the Training Institute for Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders.
Leslie has also been intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with Behavioral Tech. Since 2011, she has facilitated DBT skills groups for individuals with eating disorders using the adapted form of DBT for eating disorders. She uses this modality to enhance eating disorder treatment as well as to treat those without eating disorders when clinically indicated.
Leslie is a graduate of New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. She completed her clinical internship at The Renfrew Center of New York where she worked in the Day Treatment and the Intensive Outpatient Programs. Prior to opening her private practice, Leslie worked for three years at Columbus Park Collaborative, a private outpatient eating disorder treatment center.
Before graduate school Leslie studied at and worked as the Education Director for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She also spent time working as a LEED sustainability consultant for companies and the green building industry.
Leslie lives in Manhattan with her husband and two daughters.
My approach to therapy values the authentic relationship between therapist and client as an essential ingredient to a safe and healing environment. I bring equal parts compassion, current knowledge of relevant research and theory, and curiosity to our work. I am collaborative, goal-oriented, and always willing to meet you where you are. At all times I want our work to feel meaningful to you.
I have worked with adults, adolescents, and children across a wide range of treatment settings, including the inpatient unit of New York Presbyterian Hospital-Payne Whitney Westchester, where I provided individual, group, and family therapy.
I hold a Master of Social Work from New York University, a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College, and a certification in Family-Based Treatment from the Institute for Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders. I have also completed additional training in CBT-E through the Centre for Research on Eating Disorders at Oxford.
Prior to my career as a therapist, I worked professionally in the performing arts, both on and off stage. I deeply appreciate when my current vocation allows me to bridge my past and present; working with individuals facing the challenges any life or career transition may bring is both challenging and greatly rewarding. I value maintaining a balanced practice and enjoy working with individuals and families from all walks of life. I am passionate about destigmatizing mental illness, the body positive movement, and eating disorder prevention. A native New Yorker, I live in Manhattan with my husband, two young sons, two beloved dogs, and could not live without the ocean or Vanilla Häagen-dazs ice cream.
We all know about the common physical issues of pregnancy and postpartum, an achy back, sore shoulders and tight hips. But what about the other issues that are often kept quiet, hidden in confusion and shame. Incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, finding some sense of connection to the postpartum core! These are huge physical barriers that can have an effect on the quality of one’s life. And while they are common, they are not a “normal” part of pregnancy and postpartum. And the individual suffering through these problems deserves an explanation help.
In this episode of Yoga | Birth | Babies, I speak with Registered Pelvic Health and Orthopaedic Physiotherapist, Anita Lambert. She dispels some common misconceptions about the popular “kegel” exercise and thoughtfully explains many pelvic floor and core problems pregnant and postpartum people regularly experience. Whether you are a pregnant person, new parent or birth worker, you will walk away from this episode with empowering and digestible information.
In this episode:
Learn about Anita and what got her started in pelvic health and birth work
How Anita’s approach to physiotherapy differs from a more traditional practice
The most common issues her clients prenatal and postnatal clients experience
Let’s talk incontinence! Unfortunately many new mothers experience incontinence and consider it just the “new normal”. Anita explains why why this is common, why it shouldn’t just be accepted, and what people can do about it.
The difference between urge and stress incontinence and why “kegeling” is not always the answer
Prolapse! What pelvic organ prolapse is and how common it is.
How someone may determine they have prolapsed organs.
Some therapies Anita uses to help someone recover from pelvic organ prolapses.
The postpartum core! I often have students come in and explain that they just feel little connection to the pelvic floor and abs. Some ways to reconnect to your core.
Where you can find Anita’s work
Anita Lambert is a Registered Pelvic Health and Orthopaedic Physiotherapist with a focus on women’s health, specifically prenatal and postpartum care. She’s one of the select few physiotherapists in Canada to receive advanced training in labour support, which blends orthopaedic physiotherapy expertise with birth doula support.
Anita owns Holistic Health Physiotherapy, where the focus is guiding women to prevent and heal physical symptoms that are common but shouldn’t be considered their ‘new normal’ during pregnancy or postpartum stages of life.
Anita is always looking to share and learn up-to-date information about pregnancy, birth and beyond which led her to co host the To Birth & Beyond Podcast.
Growing up as a dancer and athlete – you can usually find Anita on the move – whether playing with her kids or exercising with strength training, spin, yoga or Pilates. Anita lives in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada with her husband Andy, daughter Pippa and newest addition to the family – baby Jack.
What do you do when your birth goes in a completely different direction than expected? How do you recover, find peace, and prepare for the birth of another baby? What happens if your second birth also has a dramatic turn of events? This is the experience of this week’s guest.
In this episode of Yoga|Birth|Babies, I speak with dance artist, yoga teacher, and mom of two, Erin Cairns Cella. She bravely opens up about her two complicated births, how she was able to surrender to the experience, and find her way to find ease. Erin’s honesty and insight may offer support and comfort for those who also underwent a challenging birth.
Learn a bit about Erin’s background.
Handling life with two under two!
How her two pregnancies were very different.
Unpacking Erin’s intense first birth experience.
How Erin physically and emotionally healed after her first birth.
The mental and emotional work Erin did to prepare for her second birth.
Learning about Erin’s second birth.
How Erin found ease in complicated births.
Erin’s advice for new and expectant parents.
Where you can find Erin’s work and classes.
About Erin Cairns Cella
Erin Cairns Cella (MFA, RYT) is a dance artist, yoga teacher, and mom of two She holds an MFA in Dance, Choreography, and Performance from Temple University, and has served as Adjunct Faculty in the dance departments at Temple University and Iona College. Erin teaches ballet, modern, barre and yoga and prenatal movement classes throughout NJ and NYC. Erin’s yoga practice began in 2005 after being introduced to yoga as a form of physical therapy, and she went on to complete her 200-hr training under the guidance of Jennifer Yarro at Frog Lotus Yoga in North Adams, MA. Her classes are deeply rooted in anatomical awareness, alignment, and injury prevention, and are a unique and fun blend of mindfulness, yoga and dance training. Find her at Ballet Arts NJ and Montclair BABY.
As the field of genetic testing grows, so do the options for parents to learn more about their baby prior to birth. However, the choices and information from these tests can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming. “Which test to take? What do the results mean? I am over 35 years old, will I need more testing and then what do I do with the results?” These are just some of the myriad of questions that come up around genetic testing.
In this episode of Yoga | Birth | Babies, I speak with board certified licensed genetic counselor, Ushta Davar Canteenwalla. Ushta helps demystify these daunting questions and bring clarity to genetic testing. For anyone thinking of conceiving soon or undergoing tests currently, this episode can bring ease and comfort around the subject of genetic testing.
Learn a little about Ushta and what brought into the field of genetics.
Why someone might choose genetic testing.
Reasons someone may choose to opt out of testing.
A good time to start thinking about genetic testing.
How does one choose what tests to have?
How genetic testing has changed in the last 5-10 years.
How accurate is genetic testing?
Does a negative/”normal” result mean everything is ok?
What happens if these tests show that there is an increased risk?
How testing shift as someone ages.
What is the NIPT test?
What can be expected with genetic counseling- what kind of support is given, how are the tests explained?
How genetic counselors help the pregnant person find confidence and information when there is so much fear around genetic testing?
Where you can find Ushta’s work!
About Ushta Davar Canteenwalla:
Ushta is is a board certified licensed genetic counselor with over 13 yrs experience in clinical genetics. Having a deep understanding of each person’s concerns and questions to guide them towards answers that make sense for them is her passion.
Her experience ranges from running a collaborative care fetal diagnostic center at Columbia University Medical Center, working in prenatal, pediatric, and cardiac genetics, as well as leading a large genetic counseling team at a lab that offers reproductive genetic testing.
In 2018 Ushta started the company FiND Genetics to create greater access to genetic healthcare. She saw a growing need to help people navigate genetic testing options and bridge the gap between an influx of information and getting comprehensive, unbiased genetic information.
One of my favorite parts of early motherhood was listening to the scrumptious babble of my new baby. That was, until a level of frustration grew from our inability to communicate effectively. My son was often trying to share his needs and it much of the time, it just went over my head.
If you are experiencing a similar predicament or want to avoid it as much as possible, you may consider learning baby sign language. In this episode of Yoga | Birth | Babies, I speak with music therapist, teacher of the Deaf, and founder of Baby Fingers, Lora Heller.
Lora explains how sign language can help increase vocabulary, improve child/care giver communication and increase bonding. I thoroughly enjoyed my talk with Lora and hope you do to!
In this Episode:
What brought Lora to working with babies and creating Baby Fingers
What is baby sign language
The research that has shown to support the benefits of baby sign language
How sign language has been used with bilingual families
The ideal age for baby sign language
Should there be any concerned sign language then they might be prolonging a child from verbally speaking?
What if a parent feels self conscious singing out loud in a class setting
How often do babies and toddlers continuing to use sign language as the get older
How sign language impact the way Lora has parented
How teaching Lora’s children sign language at a young age impacted them as they grew up and could then use verbal language
A tip or piece of advise you can offer new or expectant parents
Where people find your work
Lora Heller, MS, MT-BC, LCAT developed Baby Fingers after her son Zeke began to sign at 6 1/2 months old! She is a music therapist and teacher of the Deaf, and a Certified Educator of Infant Massage. In addition to directing Baby Fingers, she is Special Projects Coordinator and Adjunct Instructor in Music Therapy at Molloy College. Lora is author of Sign Language ABC, Sign Language for Kids: A Fun and Easy Guide to American Sign Language, and Baby Fingers: Teaching your Baby to Sign (board book series) with Sterling Publishers, and the ASL Content Consultant for the 2nd series of Story Time with Signs & Rhymes picture books written by Dawn Babb Prochovnic. Lora has also written for music therapy professional publications and national parenting magazines. She is a frequent presenter at music therapy and early childhood conferences and is the on-line expert for various parenting programs including ParentsTV.com baby sign language video series. As Baby Fingers has expanded, Lora has found wonderful professionals to train and have join the team. Our staff all have degrees in education, psychology, creative and performing arts (or other related field) with sign language proficiency and vast experience working with children.