During the third trimester you should be practicing a combination of modified asana, breath work, and relaxation techniques which will help prepare you for labor and delivery. By now the baby is getting big and you will need to be extra careful with balance. Having a regular practice during this final trimester is very beneficial to both mother and baby. A fit, flexible body will aid in a much calmer and smoother delivery.
By the third trimester you have probably gained between 20 and 30 pounds….a lot of that is the fluid and placenta. Extra weight, beyond the recommended amount, can cause discomfort. The pressure of the crowded uterus on the internal organs can result in heartburn, frequent urination, lower back pain, cramping in the front and side abdominals, and shortness of breath. Keeping a healthy weight should aid in lessening this discomfort. Excess weight can also be disruptive to sleep and can make you feel very out of balance. The body is working with an extra dose of the hormone progesterone that can cause the hands and feet to swell, some dizziness, and discomfort in the widening pelvis (which is preparing for delivery). The baby will begin dropping down in the uterus toward the end of the ninth month, which can make walking and sitting difficult.
Yoga To Ready the Body for Labor and Delivery
Yoga during this period should help you to help relax while continuing to strengthen. The biggest concern with asana in this trimester is protecting the joints and maintaining balance. Even an experienced yogini will have to adapt to her changed physiology. All standing and balancing poses such as Extended Triangle Pose, Extended Side Angle Pose, Hero I and II Poses, and Tree Pose are good for building strength in the legs, reestablishing proper alignment in the spine, and encouraging circulation. You will need to continue using a chair in case your balance falters. You do not want to experience a fall. You can still do challenging poses…while being mindful of how they make you feel…if something hurts, you will need to adjust or come out of the pose all together. If your breathing becomes stressed, stop and rest until normal breathing is achieved. Then, slowly move back into the flow.
Great Postures for the Third Trimester
Hip openers such as Bound Angle Pose and Seated Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose are also important asanas in this trimester because they help relieve aches in the lower back and create space around the pelvis.These are the postures that will ready you for labor. Pelvic tilts can alternately tone by lifting and by lowering the pelvic floor. Cat/Cow is great for this.
Breathing for Relaxation
During the third trimester you will have a quieter, more focused practice with a larger focus on more breath work and less asana. Pranayama, is a very important part of a third trimester practice. Not only does it encourage relaxation but it also helps develop the ability to concentrate deeply. An excellent posture is Reclined Bound Angle pose while practicing Pranyama. The mastering of a focused Rranayama will be a gift to you and baby during delivery…it allows you too keep control of pain and roll through the contractions without fighting them…which will make you A LOT more comfortable. It will also help you to conserve your energy.
Postures to Avoid
Avoid inversions, back bends, and intense abdominal work. Many of these poses will be impossible because of your change shape. Don’t overextend already stressed joints and ligaments, especially in the torso (with extreme twists)…these are a big no no!). Use this slower, more focused time to connect with your baby as you both roll smoothly through the breathing and modified asanas. It is a beautiful experience.