This blog is all about prenatal yoga, for Canberra women wanting to have a positive pregnancy and birth experience. We’ll discuss guidelines for your yoga practice during pregnancy, and ways to make your pregnancy happy and healthy. And of course, you’ll find tools for labour and birth and learn how yoga can help you to have a wonderful birth experience. On this blog you’ll also find recommendations for local services in the Canberra region, inspiring birth stories, postnatal topics and much more.
If you would like to join our specialist prenatal yoga classes in Canberra follow this link to canberraprenatalyoga.com.au
Sunday 27 November, the Blue Sky Clinic is running a seminar on how to use acupressure in labour and birth for natural pain relief. For more information call Alex Perry at the Blue Sky Clinic on 02 6162 4950.
There are only limited places so book early!
Hi everyone, I'm excited to share with you a new antenatal class in Canberra, based on one of my favourite books, 'Birthing from Within' (it's on your Canberra Prenatal Yoga reading list). It's a new course, so I haven't tried it myself yet, but here's what the presenters say about it:
For more information go to
And as always, please feel free to comment and share your experience with other mums-to-be.
Canberra Prenatal Yoga
Below is an excerpt from a very interesting article by Leigh Anne DuChene: Birth as a Transpersonal Experience: Healing, Empowerment, Self-Knowing, and Transformation.
Birth as a Transpersonal Experience: Healing, Empowerment, Self-Knowing, and Transformation by Leigh Anne DuChene, April 2011
“Childbirth is a life changing event that many women experience at least once in their lifetime. Some women experience birth as a very sacred, spiritual, deeply healing, and transforming experience in their life; while some women experience birth as traumatic. Still, other women do not experience birth with any spiritual or emotional significance. There are many reasons for these various experiences, which have been covered extensively in other studies and articles. Some of those reasons are personal beliefs about birth held by the woman due to religious and cultural influences, and any personal experiences surrounding birth; the woman’s support system during birth, and the trust that the birthing woman and that of her birth team have in a woman’s body to birth, baby to know how to be born, and the birth process itself. This paper is focused on how birth can be a transpersonal experience. How some women experience birth as a spiritual, sacred, deeply healing, and transforming process and experience in their lives.”
“Susan Starr Sered (1991) shares with us that “premodern societies have shown childbirth to be a socio-spiritual phenomenon, a women’s rite of passage, and a potentially fulfilling and self-enriching life experience.” (p. 8 ) Sered quotes a woman from an Israeli hospital as saying, “Birth is a spiritual experience, a feeling of creation, that I am a creative part of the universe. You get a gift, like something coming out of nothing. It is a bit like the creation of the first man.” (p. 17)”
“Birth can be a transpersonal experience; and birth was intended to be a woman’s rite of passage into motherhood by preparing her heart, mind, body, and soul for the new challenges in her new role as mother. By cultivating a new culture of trust and personal surrender around birth experiencing birth as a transpersonal experience becomes a possibility to more woman as their perceptions on birth and their ability to birth change to one of trust and empowerment.”
“Every mother is different and each birth experience is different and brings with it new challenges and opportunities to know oneself deeper. Whether it is a woman’s first child or fifth child she will still face new challenges and come to know herself in ways she has never known herself before. Birth as a spiritual experience allows women to be fully human, and fully alive in the process of giving life, as God intended.”
Today one of my students asked a great question, how she could prepare for a VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarian). The answer starts with cardiovascular fitness (for stamina), strength in the abdominals, legs and pelvic floor. That would be the same answer regardless of whether you were having your first birth, VBAC or second natural birth. If you practice what we’ve been doing in class, say do each of the exercises on the back of the affirmation and exercise cards daily, plus add some pelvic floor exercises 3x daily and a walk or swim for exercise, that would be the best training you could be doing.
Then of course there’s the mental preparation and relaxation, which is just as important. Daily relaxation using a CD for guided relaxation of about 20 minutes is ideal. Add to this eating wisely, reducing stress and getting a good night's rest (yes, all the obvious tips) and you've got a great recipe for being as prepared as you can be.
Positioning your baby in the optimal position for birth (what's called occiput anterior) is also going to make having a natural birth that much easier. There's some great exercises and tips on this website: http://www.homebirth.org.uk/ofp.htm
In the last few weeks (from around 34 weeks) once you're confident about your baby's position, doing the squats that we have learnt in class will help your baby to engage. If you're not sure about your baby's position, you can go as often as you like to your doctor/midwife and get the position checked. (It’s your birth and your baby, and you can ask for what you need.)
Outside my window, trees are exploding in colour. I love the Canberra autumn, and the feeling of change in the cool nights and mornings, the swirling leaves on the ground. It's special when our 'Embrace Change' theme (Week 3) coincides with the beauty and energy of autumn.
If you haven't yet been keeping a journal for your pregnancy, maybe you could consider doing so. Many women find the process of writing, regardless of whether they plan to keep the journal at the end, to be a way of making sense of the myriad changes going on in their bodies, relationships, and sense of self in their pregnancies.
If you are journalling, this week's affirmation would be a great place to start.
I embrace change and welcome this beautiful new phase of my life.
Or simply go out for a walk and notice the changes of this season. There will be something fresh and exciting to discover. Enjoy!Rebecca Perry
My prenatal yoga students often ask what is the best position for birth. The short answer is it depends! How your body feels and the way your baby is positioned will make some movements and positions feel more comfortable than others. Be guided by your own internal awareness of what feels right. Also no one position will feel comfortable all the way through labour so be prepared for trying different moves. Always balance movement in contractions (if you need to) with resting in between, conciously relaxing and deepening and slowing your breath.
For the birth itself (second stage), some of the best positions are kneeling, all-fours, and squatting. Of these, squatting is often found to be the best, because it gives the maximum pressure inside the pelvis, least muscular effort, most relaxation for the perineum, and most oxygenation for the baby. Essentially, the shape of the pelvis is such that squatting gives baby the most space to emerge, and gravity works with you.
To be comfortable in a squatting or all-fours position in labour, it's best to practice during third trimester of pregnancy - a lot! That's why in our prenatal yoga classes we practice squats and the cat pose in each class, but this is only once a week and ideally you could practice these positions every day.
Simplicity Retreats is running a retreat for pregnant women on Saturday 26 March. Retreats are a great way to take some special time for yourself and to connect with your baby. Here's what Simplicity Retreats has to say:
A special retreat for mums-to-be to take time out for themselves. Relax, slow down, nurture yourself, connect with your baby and share the experience with other expectant mothers. Discover the many benefits of yoga for pregnancy and in preparation for birth, through gentle stretching and toning exercises, breath awareness and deep relaxation. Topped off with a delicious vegetarian buffet lunch!
To register, go to www.SimplicityRetreats.com. I hope you really enjoy it!Rebecca
I'm excited to be starting a baby massage course next week with my baby Ethan. I haven't tried it yet but thought I'd share the information that the instructor, Rachel Ford, has provided on the benefits of baby massage:
"Massaging your baby helps to create a secure attachment and a positive shared experience, combining vital nourishment your baby's developing brain needs: touch, rhythm, eye contact, smell, vocal sounds, smiling, and sensitive interaction. Massage relaxes your baby, and supports his body systems, helping him sleep, learn and grow better.
Loving touch and emtionally responsive parenting make vital connections in your baby's brain and have a dramatically positive impact on his emotional and social intelligence and his potential."
If you'd like to know more you can contact Rachel directly on (02) 6292 1194 or at Birth in Harmony.
Yoga Canberra - Prenatal Yoga and Mummy and Me yoga
Cat pose (Marjariasana) brings enormous benefits throughout pregnancy. It relaxes the pelvis and relieves lower back discomfort. It works directly on the reproductive system and helps baby to come into an ideal position for birth. For this reason it is a 'core pose' in Canberra Prenatal Yoga classes, and one that I encourage all women to practice at home on a daily basis.
Kneel on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. If you have any wrist pain, you can come onto your knuckles or roll up the front of your yoga mat and have the fingers on the floor with the heel of your hands on the rolled mat.
Engage your core muscles as you imagine a long, straight spine. Breathe in.
· OUT-BREATH – Drop your tailbone towards your heels, draw your lower spine towards the ceiling, coming into an arch with your back. Your head finishes hanging loosely down, crown towards the floor.
· IN-BREATH – Reverse the movement: your tailbone rises, your back comes to straight. Your head finishes looking forward.
It’s important in later pregnancy not to dip your lower back as the weight of the baby may induce strain into your lower back.
Once you’re familiar with the movement, practice letting the arching movement rise up your spine one vertebra at a time, from the tailbone to the crown. If you can’t feel the movement, visualise it instead. Some people find it helpful to imagine light moving up their spine.
You can practice this pose postnatally, if you're planning to become pregnant, or anyone at any time. The non-pregnant version is to allow your spine to dip slightly on the inbreath, but please watch your lower back if you have any weakness or pain.