At 19 weeks pregnant, I was finally starting to feel a bit more human, and it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t done an ounce of exercise since I pee’d on that stick!! I used to run every weekend, and considered myself to be relatively fit, but with morning sickness and feeling tired all the time, that had gone by the way side! I wanted to do something for me (and baby) that would keep me healthy but at the same time not be too strenuous. I had heard that antenatal yoga was not only a good stress release, but that it would also teach you a great deal about deep breathing, something of key importance during labour!!
I decided to give it a go, and came across Yummy Yoga Mummies, a local class in Solihull ran by Caron Millard, who not only is a yoga instructor but also a qualified midwife! I chose this class from the many others on offer for that reason alone.
I attended my first class 2 weeks ago and having loved both sessions, have now signed up for a 5 week block.
Caron has been a registered midwife for 22 years, so not only does she teach the class, she also offers insight and support to the mums to be who attend. At the beginning of the class, the women on the session get time to chat, sharing how they are feeling and details of the latest landmark they have reached. I am one of the more recently pregnant attendees, with some women being in their 25th week and onwards. I found the sharing part of the group session really useful, particularly as the other women are further along than me. They can offer reassurance when they have been through the same thing as you, and as a midwife, there is pretty much nothing that Caron hasn’t heard before!! There were about 10 people at the first two sessions I went to, so a relatively small group. I also found this a lot more personal and intimate than some larger class sizes that my friends have experienced, as people are generally more open with less of a crowd. Some of the women this week were complaining of heartburn and constipation, and Caron showed us a diagram of what happens to your insides when you are pregnant. I guess I’d never really thought about it before, but its amazing how much your bowels and intestines get squashed under all that baby growth, its not surprising you can feel a little ‘icky’ at times!!!
Once everyone is settled in and has had time to chat, Caron starts the class. Most women bring their own yoga mats with them, but if you prefer not to invest, Caron does have some available that you can borrow on a first come first served basis. The room in which the class is held (in the United Reformed Church) is relatively spacious and therefore there is room to spread out and not feel like you are at risk of colliding with the person next to you! Most women wear loose fitting casual clothes, similar to what you may wear to the gym, but the important thing is that you feel comfortable, I wore a baggy t shirt and Nike jogging bottoms, and I keep my socks on (but I have a thing about cold feet!). I noticed on my first week that some ladies also bring a cushion or pillow for the latter part of the class, and depending on how your back is, I would personally recommend this, as I found it really helped.
The class starts with a range of Yoga moves. I for one, am not the most flexible of people, and wasn’t even before I was pregnant, but you don’t need to worry! The class is tailored to suit all stages of pregnancy from 12 weeks onwards, and therefore it doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes or only reach your knees, its all about the movements and breathing. Throughout the exercises, Caron talks you through each move and you can clearly see her at the front of the room demonstrating. I wouldn’t say any of the moves are particularly difficult, it is more about how much you want to sink into the position, and this is all dependant on what feels comfortable for you. During pregnancy you actually become a little more flexible, largely due to the hormones that relax your ligaments ready for labour. Because of this it is easy to over stretch, so we were told to take it easy, and do as much as feels right for us.
The importance of breathing is accentuated throughout, and I found that this really helped me to relax. Breathing in deeply through your nose and out through your nose. The first week I felt a little silly, but after the first experience, I decided that it didn’t matter if other people could hear me, it was important that I practised, as that relaxing breathing could become important in 4-5 months time!
At the end of the class, Caron focused on relaxation techniques and for this, the lights are turned off. Caron runs through a relaxation exercise that really does help you to release all the stresses and tensions you may have developed during the day. Sometimes its hard to focus on relaxing and clear your head when your baby is nudging you from the inside, but overall I found this part of the class really effective, and I could have quite easily fell asleep!!
Overall I find the class a really enjoyable experience, both from the exercise and breathing point of view, and as an opportunity to meet other mums to be in a social setting, whilst getting advice and support from someone who knows what she is talking about! If you are expecting and are beyond 12 weeks, I would recommend you come along and give it a go!
Costs – Sessions are £12 each and run from 7.15 – 8.30 – although the classes do tend to overrun as Caron likes to ensure people get time to chat before the class. If you sign up for 5 (which do not need to be used consecutively) the cost is £10 a session.
For more details on Yummy Yoga Mummies and the classes (including those in other locations in the midlands) please see the website – http://www.yummyyogamummies.co.uk/.