By Consultant Physician and Yoga Expert Dr. Krishna Raman
Yet, if an inevitable abortion occurs in a woman who has been practising yoga, it will always be complete with a full expulsion of the products of conception. Incomplete abortion never occurs. For the next few weeks, rest is important.
This is followed by asana practice with specific reference to stabilisation of the concepts. Backbends are very important, having the property of retaining the menstrual flow. Immediately after conception, she should continue to practice inversions and concave poses, viparita dandasana on a rack, supta virasana on pillows, supta baddha konasana on pillows (all with more emphasis on timing), and viloma prana‑yama. For habitual abortion, the same asanas help.
Also read: What you need to know about labour
Asanas and pranayama after delivery:
Care of the pregnant woman does not end with pregnancy. Proper rehabilitation after delivery is equally important to rejuvenate the body and bring it back to normalcy, fit for the next pregnancy. Improper care in the post‑partum period results in poor healing of the cut made in the vagina to facilitate childbirth. Infections are to be strictly avoided.
The skin needs to be looked after to prevent unnatural shrinkage. The locomotor system is to be exercised to ensure healthy functioning. The effect of the strain of the altered biomechanics on the body can tire the system. Due to the softness of the tissues, muscles, and ligaments, aches can occur. It is now that care should be taken to prevent exhaustion.
Unless the woman returns to an active life as early as possible, uterine shrinkage is impaired. Normally, in three months the uterus shrinks to its original size. Infections, retained products of the after‑birth, trauma during labour, all delay uterine shrinkage. Bleeding can be excessive.
For the first three months, no exercises are to be practised. This is to allow the body to recover. It is also to prevent interference with lactation of breast milk, as exercises change hormonal responses. The first menstrual cycle begins around this time and exercises can then be re‑introduced.
The role of stress:
The woman executive who has the dual responsibilities of home and work is prone to neglect her body. The stress of work can interfere with lactation and the return of the menstrual cycle. The greater the physical and mental stress, the more erratic is the return of the cycle.
Yoga is ideally suited to help the woman to recondition her body after delivery. As the perineal and inner vaginal area may feel tender, movements will have to be carefully introduced.
Best asanas for new moms:
Simple asanas to practice are supta baddha konasana, followed by supta virasana, baddha and upavishta konasana. These stretch and squeeze the genital passage very gently, allowing the woman enough time to feel the movement of the muscles.
Setu bandha sarvangasana on pillows and viparita karani are very useful for recovery from the strain of delivery as they are passive exercises. The woman will have to be awake at odd times to feed the baby. Lack of sleep can be exhausting, as it continues for three to four months or until the baby establishes a regular routine. After three months, gradual introduction of inverted poses and passive backbends gives the mother the energy she needs.
The woman who has had repeated abortions should not conceive again for at least one year, till the cellular responses of the reproductive organs and the nervous and glandular systems have changed. This requires the regular practice of all asanas and the woman should not be impatient to conceive.
High blood pressure during pregnancy returns to normal after delivery. It is now that yoga should be practised regularly, as good control over blood pressure can be achieved in the non‑pregnant state.
To prevent elevation of blood pressure during the next pregnancy, forward bends are very useful. For a beginner in yoga, elementary forward bends like sitting cross‑legged on the floor (not in padmasana) and bending forward to rest the head on the pillows can be initiated. As flexibility improves by the practice of other asanas, the normal method of practising forward bends can be started.
The woman should be assessed for flexibility in the different parts of the body and asanas taught accordingly. Generally, women can sit in triang mukhaikapada paschimottanasana more easily than men, as their pelvic flexibility is better due to biological and hormonal reasons.
In this pose, the spinal muscles move forward easily, as the movement of all the muscles is in the same direction. As flexibility improves, janu sirsasana and paschimottanasana are introduced. These poses can be practised even during menstruation.
Other asanas useful in preventing the rise in blood pressure are uttanasana with the head resting on a stool, adho mukha svanasana with the ropes, setubandha sarvangasana with pillows, and viparita karani on the wall.
Also read: The role of yoga in curing asthma
The importance of pranayama:
The practice of pranayama gives rest from the emotional upheavals of pregnancy and delivery. Till successful delivery is over, the woman is under tension. Pranayama stabilises the mind and produces tranquillity. Using this method, she should prepare herself mentally for the new role of a mother. Viloma pranayama of both types quietens the mind and reduces stress.
If the woman has had a caesarean section to deliver the baby, the practice of asanas has to be done with extra care as the uterine scar will be under greater strain during the next pregnancy.
To ensure the health of the scar tissue, it must be stretched fully and rigidity of the fibres of the uterus nullified. This is possible by the use of backbends and twisting poses. The former stretches out the entire front wall of the uterus and the latter soften the scar tissue.
Pic courtesy: kongdventure