23 weeks and 5 days pregnant
In this coloured 2D ultrasound scan the baby is lying face upwards. It is now increasingly difficult to show the whole baby using this type of ultrasound as it only shows a thin slice at any one time. Here, only the upper part of the baby can be seen.
Practising yoga in pregnancy can be hugely beneficial, both physically and emotionally.
As well as strengthening and toning muscles, yoga aims to bring about a greater awareness of your breathing. Learning to control your breathing is a great way to relax during pregnancy and an invaluable way to prepare to breathe through the contractions when you’re in labour.
Standing poses in yoga focus on achieving core stability, thereby strengthening the back and abdominal muscles. This is beneficial during pregnancy when the additional weight you’re carrying can affect your balance and cause unsteadiness. Calm sitting poses that concentrate on aligning your spine help you to focus on steadying your breathing and centring yourself. If you feel unsteady doing yoga poses, you can simply lean against a wall.
Pilates is also a good exercise to do in pregnancy as it heightens your bodily awareness, giving you greater control of – and confidence in – your body. Pilates also incorporates pelvic floor exercises.
Whatever classes you’re doing, it’s important to find an accredited instructor who is experienced in teaching pregnant women. There are now many specialist pregnancy yoga and Pilates classes.
Why are piles common in pregnancy?
Piles (haemorrhoids) are, like varicose veins, dilated veins, but they occur around your anus. The weight of your baby pushes down on your back passage, restricting blood flow and causing the veins to dilate.
Piles can be itchy and sore, and may cause a throbbing sensation. The discomfort can be relieved with cold packs and creams containing lubricants to help the passage of stools, and/or local anaesthetics to relieve soreness. Piles can bleed – you may notice bright red blood on the paper after you pass a stool.
If you have piles, it is important to try not to get constipated as this means you have to strain and push to pass your stools, which increases the pressure on the piles and makes them worse. Ensure that you drink lots of water and eat sufficient fibre.
If your piles are becoming very problematic and uncomfortable, seek your doctor’s advice.
Practising yoga in pregnancy is safe and it may reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
A recent study found that pregnant women who practised yoga had a reduced risk of developing pregnancy-induced high blood pressure and of going into premature labour.
Attending pregnancy yoga classes is a great way to exercise gently, while also meeting other pregnant women.