Exercise and movement promoting flexibility can make such a difference in how you feel during pregnancy, how your labor develops, and in your recovery. One of my own favorite forms of exercise during my pregnancies was yoga. My hips always felt better and I could tell I moved better when I was practicing regularly.
While my usual MO for yoga was a video, we have amazing prenatal yoga options here in Indy. Mimi Sosa with YogaGarden is one I wish I’d know about then. She teaches prenatal yoga in Broad Ripple and also at IU North and a mommy and baby yoga class too! You can find more details on her class on her Facebook page.
Mimi is a registered teacher with Yoga Alliance and, according to her bio, studied with Rolf Gates, Paul Grilley, Sean Corn, Shiva Rea, and Tias Little. She is certified in prenatal yoga through Lisa Matkin and Sarah Longacre. She has been teaching prenatal yoga and mommy and baby yoga for the last 15 years and regular yoga classes for 18 years. She’s also a DONA certified doula like me and an all around really great person!
One of the big benefits to taking a prenatal yoga class over staying home in front of your TV, is that you get to meet other new moms-to-be. Having some connections and maybe new friends in the world of motherhood before baby arrives is a good thing. Check out Mimi’s class, the next sessions will be starting mid-February, gain some flexibility, some peace of mind, and maybe some new friends!
I had the opportunity to sit down with a former client of mine, Casey Glassley, who had an amazing VBAC back in January. She was incredible and was willing to share a bit about what helped her prepare. Of particular interest to me was her fitness routine. I've noticed that fit, flexible women tend to, in general, have an easier time with birth. While prenatal yoga is awesome and I don't intend at all to minimize it's impact, pregnant women are capable of much more! (Always talk to your doctor, particularly while pregnant, before starting a new routine!) It was difficult to even find a photograph that showed a pregnant woman doing more than yoga.
You had a successful VBAC back in January, can you tell us a little bit about that?
- My first child was born via scheduled c-section due to him being breech. When I was pregnant with my second child, I considered having a repeat c-section. After careful consideration and a lot of praying, I chose to try for a VBAC. I'm happy to say I had a successful VBAC with my daughter. My labor lasted over 24 hours and was the most mentally and physically challenged I have ever felt. However, with the help of my amazing husband, doula, and hospital staff, I was able to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl without any medication. The recovery process was so much easier after the VBAC than it was after the c-section. I am so grateful I chose to try for the VBAC and feel blessed for such an amazing and empowering experience.
How did you prepare?
- The process for preparing for my VBAC involved a few different steps. I did a lot of research about child birth in general, including reading articles about VBAC vs.repeat c-sections and understanding the benefits and risks involved with each process. I attended a couple of meetings through ICAN of Greater Indianapolis to talk to others about their experiences. I also had a doula who provided support while I was pregnant and during labor and delivery. My physical preparation involved trying my best to eat a healthy diet and exercised consistently throughout my pregnancy. I enjoyed taking brisk walks, chasing after my active toddler, and attending barre classes a couple times per week.
You did a barre class throughout your pregnancy, correct? What was it about that class that appealed to you?
- Yes, I began taking barre classes back in 2013 and continued to take classes during both of my pregnancies. A variety of classes are offered where I attend. They range anywhere from high intensity intervals to toning to fun, dance-inspired cardio. All classes are both physically and mentally challenging. I love group exercise classes in general, but especially enjoy the atmosphere created in the barre classes. Instructors lead clients throughout the 50 minute class by providing guidance on proper form and motivating everyone to push themselves to their full potential. The combination of the upbeat music playing over the speakers and the dimly lit rooms create the perfect space for getting the best work out. It really allows you to get in the right mindset to connect with your body and mind while pushing out all other distractions from daily life.
Where was it? Who was the instructor, etc?
- The barre classes I take are offered at The Barre Code Indianapolis. It is located in Fishers, just off of Cumberland Road and 121st Street. The studio owner is Danielle Hacker. Not only does she run the studio while being a mom to a toddler and a baby, but she also instructs quite a few of the classes. Most of the class formats I was able to attend during my pregnancy were the Barre Code or Barre-dio classes offered during my lunch hour. The lovely ladies that instruct these classes are Lily Slonaker, Heather Pohland, Kimberly Moore, and Sarah Hetrick. These are just a few of the instructors I've had throughout the years. Each has their own personality and vibe that shines through in each class.
What kind of modifications did you need to make as your pregnancy progressed?
- I had to modify ab-work once I was no longer allowed to lay flat on my back in my second trimester. As my pregnancy progressed, I had to stop doing push ups and planks on the ground and just did them at the barre. The instructors were available before and after class to discuss ideas on different modifications I could use to help with anything I felt uncomfortable doing. During classes, they also give instructions on modifications that can be used if something just doesn't feel right. It is important to listen to your body and don't push yourself too hard.
Have you started back? If so, what has it been like after?
- Yes, I started back about ten weeks postpartum. I have only gone to a couple of classes and have been easing myself back into it. Since I took a few months off, my body needs some time to build back up to what it was once able to do. I continue to make modifications depending on how I feel that day. Ab exercises are probably the most difficult. I still feel a little sore where my scar is from my c-section with my first child. Overall, it feels great to be back taking classes and gives me more energy, which is needed now that I have two little ones who need me!
Do you have any advice for women considering VBAC or looking at exercise options during pregnancy?
- My advice is to make exercise a priority, especially while pregnant. It will make labor, delivery, and recovery much more manageable. Find something that you enjoy and you will be more likely to stick with it. For women considering VBAC, I encourage them to have a great support system, whether that be their husband, family member, doula, etc., who can provide encouragement while they are in labor.
I’ve attended enough births now to see some patterns. There are always exceptions so nobody jump on me if you or someone you knew didn’t fit those patterns. ;) One that I’ve come to recognize is that exercise before, during, and after pregnancy is important.
Know that I’m not saying this as someone who actually managed to make it happen consistently during my own pregnancies. Two major moves and three different jobs kind of wrecked it with the first one and bronchitis for two months kill all good intentions with the second. I’m also not saying it as a comment on size. We can be active and fit at all sorts of shapes and sizes…and not active and not fit at all shapes and sizes. Finally, I'm not saying it to add to your guilt of not getting to that needed one more thing. Believe me. I've been there.
But moving our bodies is important for our health and well-being and this holds true during pregnancy as well. As long as you and baby are healthy, of course, and you consider some of the precautions here depending on the weather. Something I’ve seen consistently as a doula is that women who are intentional about fitness and movement usually have easier labors and births.
Now, if you were a marathoner before pregnancy, your doctor might recommend that you tone it down a bit. But even if you aren’t a gym rat before your pregnancy, there are things you can start now. A prenatal yoga class would not only help your fitness, it also would give you an opportunity to connect with other expectant moms. Or make a walking date with friends. We are fortunate to live in a community with lots of walking trails and parks. Swim if you have access to a pool or even maybe consider a water aerobics class. If you can’t find one specific for pregnancy, talk to the instructor ahead of time to make sure it’s appropriate. Another great option is belly dancing. As always, discuss any kind of fitness/lifestyle change with your doctor ahead of time.
Here are a few local resources of places you might find helpful.
IU North Hospital with Mimi Sosa
Home4Birth with Lauren Windle
Source Yoga with Lauren Windle
Pea in the Pod Fitness with Abby Kurtz
Here are a few YouTube options if in person just doesn’t work for your schedule.
Prenatal Yoga-- one of many options
Prenatal Belly Dancing--also one of many options
My point is, get moving! Exercise improves mood, helps stabilize hormones, and improves your chances of an easy birth.
Adina Nelson, CD(DONA)
I am a birth & postpartum doula and chlidbirth educator practicing in North Idaho.
She was there every step of the way for me and my husband...I thank Adina for everything she helped us with. She truly is a special person and we will be forever grateful for her! ~Erin