Written by: Stephanie Misanik
Yoga is one of my FAVORITE things to talk about with expecting mommas. Whether you are an experienced yogi or brand new to the mat, prenatal yoga can be a fantastic tool to help ease moodiness, shortness of breath and swollen ankles often experienced during pregnancy. It provides you with a sacred space to really bond and connect with your baby AND helps prepare your body for the upcoming mystery of labor. In addition, hitting your mat in a room full of other expecting mommas really creates an energy that I have never experienced anywhere else. There is something super powerful about expecting mothers coming together and taking time to connect with themselves, their babies and other moms. If you are feeling all alone in your pregnancy, like nobody gets it…get to a prenatal yoga class! It’s a safe space to share your experience (the good, the bad and the ugly) with other moms who really truly understand what it is you’re going through. It’s a fantastic way to create community and feel supported during this beautiful time of life.
If the thought of doing any physical exercise whatsoever seems incredibly overwhelming to you, think of it like this. Labor is one of the most physically and emotionally intense experiences you will ever endure in this lifetime. You wouldn’t run a marathon without some physical preparation, and labor is no different. The asanas (physical poses) of yoga help you to build your strength and stamina while improving circulation. The meditation during savasana can help you relax and bring your awareness within. The pranayama (breathing exercises) will be an indispensable tool that you can use to breathe through your contractions when the big day comes.
Safety is key when it comes to exploring the world of prenatal yoga. If you have never practiced yoga before, it’s important that you only practice prenatal yoga when pregnant. Now is not the time to check out hot yoga for the first time. If you already had a strong yoga practice before pregnancy, you may be able to continue that practice (with modifications) during your pregnancy. Whether you are experienced or brand new, I recommend sticking to a gentle non-heated flow during your first trimester as the fetus is still implanting and the risk of miscarriage is highest.
As you hit your mat, keep in mind that when pregnant, your body produces a bunch of the hormone relaxin, which softens the connective tissue. This is super important because it allows the joints in your pelvis to become more flexible as your uterus expands, making room for your growing baby. Unfortunately, it also can lead to instability in the sacroiliac (SI) joints and can cause lower back pain, so be careful not to overstretch during your practice.
When it comes to knowing which poses are safe and which should be avoided, there are some general guidelines, but mostly I suggest listening to your body. If something feels good, keep doing it…and if something feels bad, stop. Here are some helpful guidelines to get you started:
Standing poses such as Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle) and Virabhadrasana 1-3 (Warrior 1-3) are safe and a great way to ground you to the earth and build strength throughout your pregnancy.
Hip openers such as Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend), Agnistambhasana (Ankle-to-Knee Pose), Eka Pada Kapotasana (1/2 Pigeon Pose), Balasana (Wide-Knee Child’s Pose) and Malasana (Deep Squat) are great because of the focus on flexibility that will be needed later on for delivery, just don’t overdo it because the hormone relaxin is softening all the joints and they are easily dislocated with excessive stretching. These hip openers are especially helpful in the third trimester because they relieve lower back pain and create space around the pelvis. They are great poses to use during labor as well to release the lumber spine and open the hip joints.
Stretches on the back such as Supta Baddha Konasana (Recline Bound Angle Pose) and Supta Padagusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose – with a strap) are great during the first trimester. After 20 weeks, I suggest placing a blanket or bolster under your upper back to elevate your upper body past 20 degrees
Poses to Avoid:
Avoid intense abdominal work like Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose) because the uterus is super delicate right now. As you progress in your pregnancy, doing super intense abdominal work runs the risk of tearing and separating your abdominal muslces.
Avoid inversions except Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) for short amounts of time.
Safe Backbends During Pregnancy:
I am often asked if backbends are okay during pregnancy, and my answer is YES, with modifications. It is super important to listen to your body, so if your body is telling you that something doesn’t feel good listen to it! Here are some safe backbends to take during pregnancy, if it feels good to you:
Sphinx Pose on two blocks and a bolster underneath your thighs. During pregnancy, the femurs shift forward in the hip sockets. Placing a bolster underneath your thighs helps to lift the femurs toward the hamstrings, centering the thighbone in the hip socket. The blocks give extra height to create space for you baby bump.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog) with a bolster under your thighs
Ustrasana (Camel Pose) with blocks on the outside of your legs
In addition to the asanas, breath work is a fantastic yogic tool to calm the mind and prepare you for the big day. The two most beneficial kinds of pranayama (breathing exercises) during pregnancy are Ujjayi (long, strong deep breaths in and out, through your nose with a slight constriction in the back of your throat) and Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing). It’s important to stick to these two and avoid any kind of breath retention or hyperventilation because it could limit the baby’s oxygen supply.
In the end, remember that you are a powerful woman. Trust your intuition. If something doesn’t feel good, don’t ignore that feeling. Listen to your body, do what makes you feel good. Prenatal yoga is a great opportunity to bond with your baby, to meet other moms and to prepare your body for the birthing process. I hope to see you in class!
Plants for Life,
Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200
Are you considering hiring a specialist to encapsulate your placenta?
Placenta encapsulation is an awesome process that transforms your baby’s placenta into capsules. You then take your ‘placenta pills’ as a postpartum supplement. Placenta encapsulation can improve your overall postpartum wellness experience, and may help: balance hormones, support lactation and enhance milk supply, replenish iron, minerals, and vitamins, mitigate postpartum bleeding, provide natural pain relief, ease ‘Baby Blues’, decrease severity of postpartum mood disorders, and boost energy. If you are wanting to know more about what hormones, minerals, and vitamins are in your placenta and why they can help facilitate postpartum healing, take a look here.
Once you have decided that encapsulation is right for you, the next step is to find a qualified placenta specialist. So you search Google for ‘Placenta Encapsulation Cleveland’, but what next? Here are six tips to help you hire the best placenta encapsulation specialist.
Placenta services are an unregulated industry, but there are certain standards, trainings, and precautions your professional specialist should follow. You want to find a placenta encapsulation specialist that has:
Completed training and certification with a comprehensive, research-based placenta education program. Ask your prospective placenta encapsulator with whom they have trained. Check out their certifying agency’s website to learn about the curriculum and requirements. Is their organization listed with the Better Business Bureau? If yes, what is their rating? Does internet search results return positive feedback?
The Nurturing Root is proud to have trained with both Placenta Benefits (PBi) and the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA). Both PBi and APPA are very well-respected organizations providing extensive education and credentialing in placenta preparation. We recommend using either the PBi directory or APPA directory to find an encapsulator in you area.
A current food safety certification. A food safety certification ensures that your placenta encapsulation specialist has tested knowledge in food hazards, proper hygiene practices, cleaning and sanitizing processes, and time and temperature controls.
The Nurturing Root Ohio holds a current ServSafeⓇ Food Handler Certificate.
Completed an OSHA compliant Bloodborne Pathogens training. It is crucial that your placenta encapsulation specialist has demonstrated competency regarding the precautionary guidelines and decontamination practices for handling potentially infectious and biologically hazardous materials.
The Nurturing Root has completed the Biologix Solutions Bloodborne Pathogens Training for Doulas and Placenta Encapsulators.
There are two preparation styles for placenta encapsulation, the Raw Foods Inspired method and the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method.
Raw Foods Inspired Method
This method is based largely on the principles surrounding the raw foods philosophy of eating. Raw foods principles teach that food is most nutritious if it is heated no higher than 118℉. Above this temperature certain enzymes will begin to degrade. For the Raw Foods preparation, your placenta is cleaned, sliced, then dehydrated at either 118℉ OR 160℉ overnight. The Association of Placenta Preparation Arts recommends drying the placenta at the higher temperature of 160℉ to ensure any possible bacteria are eliminated. Then your placenta is ground into a fine powder and placed in capsules. With this placenta process, it is thought that the potency of hormones and nutrients will be best preserved and available for your body.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Method
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been incorporating placenta in powerful remedies for 1400 years. It is used to increase lactation and augment the ‘Qi’ or life energy, after birth. The many hormones and nutrients found in placenta can help you heal, and find optimal balance, during the postpartum transition period. With the TCM method your placenta is cleaned, lightly steamed with ginger and myrrh, sliced thin, and dehydrated overnight. Then your placenta is ground into a fine powder and placed into capsules. Steaming the placenta with ‘warming herbs’ is an integral part of this preparation method. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a mother’s postpartum body requires heat and warmth to replenish the energy that is lost during childbirth. Raw foods are generally seen as a cooling element. Therefore, consuming raw placenta not recommended for the tonifying elements needed to nourish the blood and restore energy and balance to the body.
The Nurturing Root offers the Traditional Chinese Medicine method of placenta encapsulation to our clients. We believe that this preparation, and the Chinese medicine philosophy, offers the greatest healing benefits to new mothers.
A placenta encapsulation specialist will prepare the placenta either in their workspace or in their client's home. With both workspaces, your ‘triple trained’ placenta encapsulation specialist should implement identical sanitizing protocol. Also with both methods, capsules will usually be processed and made available within 72 hours of birth.
Your placenta encapsulation specialist will either personally pick-up or use a courier service to collect your placenta from the hospital or birth center and have it brought to their workspace. Their workspace can be a family kitchen, a dedicated encapsulation processing space in their home, or a dedicated space in another location (like their studio or a commercial-style kitchen.) Once your placenta capsules are ready, your specialist will most likely bring the capsules to you at home.
After having your baby, you, a family member, or a friend will bring the placenta to your home. Your placenta encapsulation specialist will then come to your house to process your placenta. The capsules will be left with you, or arrangements may be made to take them to your birthplace if you are not at home yet.
The Nurturing Root exclusively processes your (our client) placenta in your home. Your house is a special space with your family’s energy and unique microbiome, and we strongly believe that your placenta belongs in your residence. We also value the connection we make by processing your placenta in your house. We encourage you or family to observe the process, and welcome any discussion about the preparation method or questions you have regarding your placenta, birth experience, or the postpartum healing process.
In addition to placenta capsules, look for a placenta encapsulation specialist that offers other placenta specialties, like: placenta art prints, tincture, or mother’s broth. You may also want to find a placenta encapsulation specialist that provides additional prenatal and postnatal services.
The Nurturing Root offers a variety of placenta remedies. In addition, we also offer Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth education for couples, labor comfort measure workshops, birth and postpartum planning sessions, and family-centered postpartum doula care. We are quite active in the birth community, so we also have available a comprehensive list of community resources for expectant and new moms.
Using a placenta encapsulation specialist recommended by a trusted friend is a great option. But make sure to do your own research on any prospective encapsulator. Look through their website, check their social media accounts, and read or ask for testimonials. Schedule a call or meet with the placenta encapsulation specialist you are interested in hiring. Get an idea of who they are, how and why they chose to become a professional placenta encapsulator, and ask them how many placentas they have encapsulated.
The Nurturing Root has been providing placenta encapsulation services to families since 2011. We have helped nearly 600 mothers experience their best postpartum, with our placenta encapsulation services. We are honored to have overwhelmingly positive reviews and testimonials from our Baltimore families.
Your placenta encapsulation specialist should return your email, message, or call promptly and provide you with an overview of their services, fees, policies, and protocols. You should also see if your prospective specialist has a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page on their website. You want to feel confident about your specialist and her services before paying a deposit.
The Nurturing Root keeps an updated FAQs page on our website, so you can learn all about our placenta encapsulation services. We also respond to inquiries with thorough details about the placenta encapsulation process.
We want you to have a healthy pregnancy, empowering birth experience, and gentle postpartum recovery. If you are wanting to learn more about placenta encapsulation services and reside in Cleveland or greater Northeast Ohio please contact The Nurturing Root here!
This post, in part, was re-published on Parent.co