Namaste: Yogis & Obstetricians

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This morning I did my weekly maternity yoga class. There is breathing and humming and stretching and balancing and it’s SO relaxing. (Last week I was so relaxed I walked out in someone else’s flip flops – not noticing until two days later!) The class is in Fremantle and the teacher is amazing. Even more so, she looks amazing. She has given birth to 4 children and has the body of a 21 year old (maybe she is 21?). She oozes flexibility, strength and confidence – exactly the things we pregnant yogis seem to be lacking these days…
Looking away from the amazing body in front of the class and looking around the room, most of the soon to be (mostly first time) mums stare bleary-eyed into space and absorb every word that comes out of the teacher’s mouth, which ranges from “contractions are you, so they can’t be bigger than you” and “breath deeply so you can open up the cervix” to “do not be scared, ever”. This last one I like a lot, I am not so sure about the first two, but I love the empowerment the teacher is trying to channel to all the frazzled faces and tired, big bodies in front of her.
“There is a lot of fear here in Perth”, the teacher said the other day. I think she was talking about the fear of birthing and the skyrocketing numbers of interventions and c-sections (more than 50% in some Perth private hospitals). In the yoga class most women seem to be pretty relaxed and keen to do things as “natural as possible”, hoping for a home birth or water birth with the help of a doula and lots of relaxation and breathing techniques.
I am booked in for another c-section early next year as my previous baby was an emergency delivery. The baby was 4.3kg and got stuck due to my ‘funny’ shaped pelvis. I am not too worried about it either way, as long as the baby and I are safe.
I spoke with my Obstetrician last Friday about the benefits of yoga and he said I should do it if it makes me feel good, but there is no evidence that doing yoga makes much difference. (I guess looking at my first birth I was very fit and well prepared with lots of maternity classes, but in the end no yoga class could have prevented my c-section.) He also said to keep in mind that a delivery is not a sprint, but an endurance game, and the best way to build endurance is by doing (light) cardio workouts, like swimming and beach walking. Yoga builds flexibility and strength, which is good, but that alone won’t prepare you for a 24h birth… It needs to be a combination of both. Doing yoga unsupervised can also be harmful as your body is full of relaxants and it’s very easy to overstretch or injure a muscle (unless you know what you are doing).
I personally like the idea of being “in control” by having my body as fit and strong as possible and a relaxed mindset, but I am also a strong believer in the medical and scientific world. I trust my Obstetrician’s recommendations for my birth and I would never question his wealth of medical expertise and knowledge. At the same time I believe I am responsible for my own body and health when it comes to preparing and aftercare and no doctor can do this for me. For this part I very much love the empowering words and wisdom of my yoga teacher. Namaste, to my yoga teacher and my obstetrician. (meaning I bow to you and respect you).