Celebrity yoga teacher Hilaria Baldwin, co-founder of Yoga Vida studios in New York City and mother of three, says the best thing any woman can do—whether she’s expecting or just planning to get pregnant—is become BFFs with her mula bandha, the muscle group located at the base of your pelvis behind the cervix. Here, she shares expert intel on the best ways to do that.
The strength of your pelvic muscles is extraordinarily important during delivery because pushing feels like a reverse Kegel. So I highly recommend all moms-to-be work their mula bandha (AKA pelvic floor) while pregnant. I had three good labors, really fast pushing, and quick recoveries, and I attribute much of that to the fact that I have a really strong pelvic floor.
The more you can activate your mula bandha, the more beneficial it’ll be to you during childbirth. And you can engage those muscles, no matter what posture you’re in, by pulling up through your pelvic walls. The sensation is “I have to pee and I’m not going to pee”—that’s how I put it to my students.
The sensation is, “I have to pee and I’m not going to pee.”
There are so many good yoga poses for pregnancy, but one of the best is downward-facing dog with really wide legs (and playing around with turning your toes in). It’s really common to get restless leg syndrome while pregnant. I got it with all three of my pregnancies—it would happen every single night, and I would literally get out of bed and do down dogs. The more you stretch your legs out, the more it’ll alleviate a lot of those uncomfortable moments.
Prenatal yogis can also use hip openers—like malasana squats, pigeon pose, or a variation like a figure four or modified ankle-to-knee pose—to help prepare for delivery. There’s a lot that goes on with your hips during pregnancy—they get a little bit wider and there’s a lot of relaxation in your muscles—so stretching it out is an excellent way to ease pain.
Squats are traditionally done in many other cultures when you’re pregnant and preparing for labor—and sometimes even in labor. It really helps the pelvic floor and opens up the hips. It may be a little bit uncomfortable, so something else you can do is sit on a block or a bunch of pillows. That’ll help alleviate the intensity. You want to take your hands to a prayer and your elbows to the inside of your knees and widen them. It’ll give you a really great stretch.
Here are seven other ways to stay active during your pregnancy—and a post-workout smoothie recipe expectant celeb moms love.