What are these Active Birth yoga classes?
These are weekly classes, which can actually be taken throughout the course of pregnancy. You can begin at any stage of your pregnancy. The classes are taught by qualified teachers, trained and experienced in antenatal and postnatal yoga. You are trained in - among other things - Active Birth positions and breathing awareness for labour and delivery.
The benefits are not only confined to the future. The gentle yoga benefits the pregnant body and mind. The common discomforts of pregnancy - such as backache, fatigue etc. - are alleviated. There is a general lifting of the mood through relaxation. The environment is also conducive to this as there is always a session of an informal chat and mingling at the end, which allows for exchange of ideas and experiences with other pregnant women.
There are stretching exercises combined with natural breathing, which help strengthen legs and the spine and make the muscles more supple. They also facilitate increased flexibility and promote toning of the pelvic floor.
Do Active Birth yoga classes continue in the postnatal period?
Yes. For the first few months after the birth of your baby, you will find them very beneficial. To facilitate this, crèche facilities are sometimes available, so you are encouraged to bring your baby with you. Gentle exercises and breathing are carried out to enable you to relax, loosen up and allow the inevitable tension to dissipate. The exercises are also designed to accelerate the body's healing process and aid the process of going back to the non-pregnant state. These classes also give you an opportunity to enjoy the company and camaraderie of fellow new mothers and swap tales of your experiences.
How easy is it to find a properly qualified Active Birth teacher?
The Active Birth Centre provides a list of qualified Active Birth teachers and Baby Massage throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. You can contact the Centre for the list which is also available on the Active Birth Centre Website
What is the difference between the Active Birth classes and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) classes or the Parentcraft classes taught at my hospital?
These different classes are not and should not be seen as antagonistic.
There are a lot of similarities and the format is quite similar. Where they depart from each other is on the points of emphasis and depth and breadth of information given on Active Birth.
Parentcraft classes will concentrate on the routines as practised in that particular hospital unit. There is not much emphasis or encouragement in involving the partners in the classes. The partner's role in labour is covered only in theory. There may be little or no practical physical work. Parentcraft classes differ in content in different hospitals and some cover the aspects of childbirth more broadly than others.
Active Birth "couples classes" cover a very broad range of subjects to do with pregnancy and childbirth.
Emphasis is put on giving unbiased comprehensive information, to enable the prospective mother and her partner to make an informed choice.
Areas such as pharmacological and natural alternatives for pain relief are exhaustively covered. It may not be possible to get the same depth of coverage on complementary therapies in other classes. Possible medical routines and interventions are covered as well as ways of being involved in decision-making.
The subject of breast-feeding is comprehensively covered to include the physiology of it, the common and uncommon potential problems and their solutions.
There are of course the yoga-based exercise classes, the practise of positions and the active involvement of partners in these as well as massage for labour, breathing and the required emotional support.