now that my pants don't fit very well anymore (thank heavens for birthday gifts of belly belts!), i'm beginning to feel the effects of all of these pregnancy changes. namely: my back HURTS. frequently. differently.
at first i thought "hmm. must have slept wrong." but when it's fairly consistent and it doesn't really change much, i began to think about what i could do, proactively, to solve this, my particular brand of pregnancy woe. in my mind, i thought: "if my back hurts now, boy howdy, 37 weeks is going to be no fun."
unless i plan ahead. unless i prepare myself. unless i--wait for it--train for my third trimester.
in thinking about how i want my labor, delivery, and late pregnancy to go, i've been reading a little and thinking a lot about what i can do now to prepare myself well for that ultimate of endurance tests. the birth plan we're considering requires me to understand and be able to work with my body throughout labor and delivery, staying connected to my own instincts and the messages my body is sending me.
it's also going to require a whole heck of a lot of stamina.
but the time constraints that have faced me this semester are daunting at best. to try to get to the gym is a monumental task, and i'm often frustrated by my lack of energy or the way that my body now moves differently. my feet seem to not like my shoes, the treadmill seems to go to fast, and the only real prenatal class offered by my gym is a water class that happens exactly when i have a job to do.
i let this get at me for a couple of weeks--i'll admit it. but when my back started to really hurt, i began to think that maybe the "training" that i need isn't the training that i'm used to.
the idea of prenatal yoga is practically in the water around these parts--everyone seems to know about it and praise it to high heaven, but a couple of things really stood out to me: the way that it builds muscle strength and flexibility, the deep stretches that accompany the practice, and the breathing techniques that help prepare one for labor and delivery.
those are three reasons right there to sign me up.
so i bought a DVD (shiva rea's prenatal yoga) that came highly recommended from the nameless, faceless masses on amazon, and i tried it for the first time yesterday. (yesterday was also the first time that my back hurt so much that i had to bring a pillow with me to class to put in the small of my back, if that tells you anything about my physical condition yesterday.)
it was challenging and it was motivational and it WORKS. the dvd is broken up into three sections, beginning with a stretching and meditation section (which was far more challenging than i initially thought it would be), followed by one standing pose section and one floor pose section, and ending with a guided meditation at the end. i've done yoga dvds and classes before, so i'm not a total novice, but i found this one challenging and accessible after nearly three months of no (real) physical activity. each of the sections provided not only modifications for each trimester, but also challenges. i assumed that the standing poses section would be the most challenging, but each section provided me with something that i wasn't great at. far from being frustrating, it showed me that i had much to learn and encouraged me to keep at it. challenges keep me hungry.
by the end of the 50 minute session (which you can easily break into smaller, shorter bits by skipping sections), i felt more muscles than i have in a while (hello legs--did you like those lunge poses?) and i felt like my back was FINALLY loosening up. today, it's infinitely better.
while i suppose a review of a prenatal yoga dvd doesn't do much for those of you who currently pregnant, but let me just say this: yoga is an amazing way to work on lengthening your muscles and gaining balance and strength. it can be an excellent supplement to an aggressive cardio workout routine, because it not only focuses on other elements of your physical well-being, but it also encourages you to become aware of your body and how it works. the term "namaste," often used by those in yoga practice, means "peace be with you." in our quest for healthy living in this noisy, frantic world, a few minutes of peace can only be a positive thing.
try it. it can't hurt--well, except in good ways. :)