This week I got two pieces of fitness related advice from my OB regarding what I am doing currently. He is 100% on board with me swimming, he thinks its fantastic and that I should keep doing it!
I grudgingly asked him about inversions in my yoga practice. Everything I know from my training as a prenatal yoga teacher says yes, they are safe as long as it feels good and the mother has a strong inversion practice before pregnancy. He had some interesting thoughts on that one…. He said, the only thing that concerns him is the amount of blood flow to my brain and the potential risk for aneurism for me. Whatttttt?!?! Not the answer I was expecting.
He continued to explain, saying that there is no risk to the babies, only to me. What his is potentially worried about is that during pregnancy, the vascular system relaxes and gravity has a greater impact over the flow of blood in a mother’s body. The second part to that is with a twin pregnancy in particular, the blood volume is not only much greater than in a non pregnant woman, but its also much higher than in a singleton pregnancy. With that much blood, and relaxed blood vessels, he is worried that my body might not be able to control the rush of blood to my brain when I go upside down.
I think that is a scary and weird point but totally valid. Am I going to stop practicing my inversions? NO, or at least not yet. I feel this information is really valuable and I will defiantly be keeping it in mind as I do inversions in the future. If I ever feel a hot, pressured, head rush when I go upside down, I’m going to come out of the pose, otherwise if I feel totally normal, I’m going to stay there comfortably.
I do remember feeling that kind of hot pressure from blood rushing to my face when I very first started doing yoga inversions, but I think over time, my body strengthened and learned to better control that rush of blood flow when I go feet up because I haven’t felt that sensation it in years. I think because I have such a strong practice and have consistently done them from the start of my pregnancy, even with the increased blood volume, my blood vessels must still be holding up and staying in control.
The one other thing he had to say about prenatal fitness is that he despises lunges for pregnant women. He thinks they are so detrimental to the integrity of the pelvis; the pelvic symphysis in particular. The pelvic symphysis is that little area where the pelvis meets in the middle, very low in the front (almost where the zipper of your jeans is but a little lower). As a prenatal yoga teacher, I agree that they can be very dangerous for pregnant women since relaxin makes joints so unstable and vulnerable.
I disagree with how black and white he makes lunges seem. I believe that there is a safe way to practice them in pregnancy. If the mother is very careful to keep her hips squared to the front of the room where she is facing, and she doesn’t sink too deep into the lunge, I think that lunges are safe and appropriate. They become dangerous when the hips twist to the side while the legs are split in the lunge position and when she allows all her weight to sink her deep into the lunge. This can tear that delicate pelvic symphysis apart and it is very hard to heal back together after pregnancy.
I am thankful to have gotten a professional opinion from my OB on the safety of the fitness activities that I am currently participating in. I do not entirely agree with everything, but I value and respect his opinions and will take them into account as I move forward.