These Common Myths Will Change The Way You Think About Exercise During Pregnancy
There are many myths out there about what you can and cannot do during pregnancy, and because I teach both prenatal and postnatal yoga, I spend a lot of time myth-busting and teaching mamas how to tune into their maternal instincts to figure out what is and is not good for their baby and body.
This is complex, because what is right for one mama may not be right for another. We are all unique, beautiful, fascinating creatures. So, how do we know which advice to take from friends and family, or from our personal trainer or yoga teacher? I recommend starting by sorting out the old wives' tales from actual wisdom. Take a look at these myths and consider where they came from. Perhaps there is some wisdom in there after all.
Myth 1: Don't lie on your back.
With the right props and pelvic alignment, you will absolutely get on your back in a yoga class. One of the concerns associated with lying on your back is vena cava syndrome, which involves the heavy uterus obstructing a major blood vessel, but that hardly means you should avoid lying on your back altogether. Instead, listen to your body, and take a look at this guide to give you insight into whether a pose isn't working for you.
Myth 2: Do your Kegels every day.
Before you commit to a regimen of daily pelvic floor exercises, I highly recommend seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist to help assess whether your pelvic floor needs to be strengthened or whether you need to learn how to relax. If you’re already a yogini, odds are that you need to focus your effort on learning how to relax your mula bhanda.
Myth 3: Don't start any exercise you've never done before.
True, it’s probably not a great idea to start training for a marathon if you’ve never done one before. But the reality is that pregnancy is a time to modify your exercise regimen, which probably means trying something new (like prenatal yoga!). This is not about focusing on what you cannot do but tuning into areas of your body that you’ve possibly never considered before.
Myth 4: Inversions will turn your baby upside down.
This one depends on what you consider "upside down." Inversions can help you to turn a baby that is breech (bum presenting instead of the head). I have personally worked with a few women who have used a modified shoulder stand to help their baby turn. That being said, don't do anything you're not comfortable with or that feels unsafe—especially if you don't already have a regular inversion practice!
Myth 5: Don't do any "core" work.
Yes, you can do work that enables you to properly engage your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. This myth is telling you not to do the old-fashioned "sit-ups" that mostly engage your rectus abdominus (the superficial "six-pack" abs at the front). There are several other core muscles that we should absolutely continue to work with because they will help you to birth your baby (and carry him/her around afterward!). I love the Tupler Technique™, which is outlined in the book Together Tummy.
After teaching thousands of women, my wise and beautiful prenatal yoga teacher Colette Crawford taught me to always explore the risks, benefits, and alternatives associated with any decision related to pregnancy, birth, and babies. So for every piece of advice (or myth!) you hear, please consider the risks and alternatives, get a second opinion, and then make up your own mind. You'll probably end up busting a few myths of your own.
Interested in prenatal yoga? Check out Tara Stiles' class on this topic.
Blair Fillingham is the creator behind MTRNL.COM, an online pre and postnatal yoga studio. She’s a certified yoga instructor with a bachelor’s in business and corporate communications from Pace University, and believes that the health and vitality of mothers is crucial to the future of our planet. MTRNL yoga classes bring women from around the world together to feel strong and supported as they journey into pregnancy and through motherhood. Fillingham became a certified prenatal yoga teacher and yoga teacher after 17 years of working for companies including Microsoft, Xbox, Nokia, Intel, and Samsung. She lives with her two daughters and her high school sweetheart on 5 acres overlooking Mount Rainier, in Carnation, Washington.