Pregnancy is an amazingly magical time. It can also feel really surreal. If it feels like a challenge to bond with baby, prenatal yoga can help!
While in your mind you know that there are many changes taking place and a new person is forming within your own body, sometimes it can all seem TOO big to really wrap your mind around the whole experience. I mean, you see your belly growing and the ultrasound photo… you decorate the nursery and wash the teensiest tiniest clothes… You try to imagine that sweet chubby face and those endless nights of nursing and shushing. Still, until you’ve got that baby in your arms, it’s really hard to imagine what your how your life will change. Even if you’ve done this before—and sometimes it can be even harder to make the connection when you have other little ones taking up so much of your time and attention!—it can be challenging to feel connected to your unborn baby.
For me, taking time each week during prenatal yoga class to slow down and focus on the baby has made the whole experience seem more real and it’s helped me feel more connected.
5 Ways to Bond with Baby in Prenatal Yoga
Breathing for Two
One of my favorite things to teach in my prenatal yoga classes is an easy breath exercise I call breathing for two. It is a way to calm mom’s nerves, deliver more oxygen to mom and babe, and it even gently strengthens and tones the abdominals. It’s also a perfect way to connect and bond to baby.
Here’s how: Bring one hand to your heart and the other to your belly (baby’s heart). Breathe in slowly through the nostrils. Feel the air pass your throat, and expand your chest, rib cage, and your belly. Imagine that each inhale sends oxygen, nourishment, and love to that little life growing within (from your heart to theirs!). Exhale slowly and fully through your nostrils. Repeat.
Visualize Rocking Baby in a Hammock
Every mama knows that babies love movement after they’re born. When my daughter was a baby, for example, she required constant swaying and bouncing. If I stopped and tried to put her down she’d scream bloody murder (even when she was asleep her eyes would pop open and she’d make the most horrible noises!) It was completely exhausting and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. And since babies like rocking and swaying so much after they’re born, it would only make sense that they like it when they’re IN the womb, too, right? I really look forward to rocking my new little one when she’s born in a few weeks (!!!).
But for now, I’ll just imagine her rocking sweetly in the hammock of my belly in all of my favorite poses. Cat-Cow and Downward Facing Dog are good ones that are easy to use this visualization. But you can use your imagination in any pose that let’s you sway side to side or rock back and forth. The key is to keep your movements slow and fluid, breathe deep and rhythmically, and maybe even hum a sweet lullaby that you plan to share with your little one after he’s born when you’re able to rock him in your arms.
Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) with Belly Pat
Standing poses like Extended Side Angle Pose are great for pregnant mamas because strengthen the legs, can open the hips, and an help you open the side body to make space for a growing baby. This is my favorite standing pose because it also is a great opportunity to check in with your baby and send him or her some extra love. Come into the modification where you rest your forearm onto your front thigh. (Be careful not to let that shoulder creep up toward your ear!) Then, bring your bottom hand to your belly for a moment. Check in with baby. Awe at how your baby is practicing yoga with you before she’s even taken one breath on her own.
Note: When you’re in the first trimester, you might not even make contact with your belly. In that case, it’s fine to use your imagination. As you progress in your pregnancy, you’ll notice your growing belly becomes more and more accessible. It can be a very informal way to track your baby’s growth. For me, that made everything seem a little more real.
Savasana for Two
Lie down on your left side (snuggle a bolster, use your bottom arm as a pillow, put a block between your knees, and prop yourself up as much as you need so you feel comfy and cozy). Take a moment to practice breathing for two. With every exhale, imagine the tension in your muscles floating away. Feel yourself soften and relax with every breath. Then, bring your attention to the little life growing within you. With the next couple of exhales, imagine your baby relaxing, muscle tension releasing, soothed by the gentle rise and fall of your breath.