Yoga for birth

Classes to help expectant mums

If you are keen for a natural, drug-free birth and a relaxed pregnancy, prenatal yoga and a Yoga for Birth workshop might just be the answer you’ve been searching for, writes Liz Gray.

Pregnancy need not mean nine months of backache, discomfort, weight gain and worry. And your labour and birth need not be the screaming, stressful event Hollywood movies might have us believe.

Women’s yoga specialist and childbirth educator at Body Bliss Wellbeing, Alexandra Di Cecco, says, “Every birth is different, just like every pregnancy is different. But they all have something in common; the preparation of body, mind and spirit is essential.”

Pre-natal yoga can prepare your body for labour, teach you to relax your mind as you move and breathe and reassure and calm yourself and your emotions. And if you are committed to a drug-free labour and birth, it arms you with the perfect tools.

“In a normal birth, if you are relaxed mentally and prepared physically, you can give birth without the need for drugs,” says Di Cecco. “Birthing is doable; it is an intense but manageable experience.

“I am a mother of two beautiful sons and I am passionate about conscious motherhood. I have a deep understanding of the impact yoga and meditation can have in a woman’s life during preconception, pregnancy, birth and beyond,” she says.

The classes
I enrolled in a 10-week block with Di Cecco at Body Bliss Wellbeing. After the first two classes, I was hooked. By Wednesday afternoons I was hanging out for my Friday-morning fix. Having never previously been a yoga lover, this came as some surprise to me – much as I’d tried to get on the yogi bandwagon in the past, I’d always found classes a little too slow, too languid somehow – my pre-pregnancy self was more of an espresso drinking, running, jumping gym goer (a yogi would no doubt tell me that shying away from Zen activities such as yoga meant it was the very thing I needed in my life the most).

I started classes at the beginning of my second trimester (like many women, morning sickness vetoed exercise in the first). The classes were small, so we each received plenty of Di Cecco’s attention. And for me, Di Cecco’s kind, gentle and understanding approach was one of the key factors that made classes so enjoyable.

Women of all ages and stages of pregnancy attend, from 10 weeks to 40 weeks, and as you might expect, the focus is as much on breathing and relaxation as it is the poses. It is fairly gentle and very, very soothing – though definitely physically challenging at times – downward dog with a massive belly, anyone? We also learnt poses to do at home to encourage bub to move into a more comfortable position for those times she twists herself into awkward angles. Which, in the later stages of pregnancy, is fairly often!

I attended one class a week and so far, at 32 weeks, have not had any backache. In fact, my shoulders and lower back are less achy than before I was pregnant.
I feel fairly relaxed, and thanks to the information, tips and advice drip-fed to us by Di Cecco over the weeks, I am feeling confident about a calm and relaxing natural birth.

Yoga for Birth workshop
The workshop was developed by Di Cecco to teach couples valuable techniques to assist them in having a natural, stress-free birth and is the perfect compliment to prenatal yoga classes. They run for approximately three hours and birthing partners are encouraged to attend.

My husband came with me and he found it hugely beneficial. Up until the workshop, I think he was a little concerned regarding his role during the labour and birth. He, like most men, like to feel useful, but he was concerned he might do things wrong or get in the way. Di Cecco taught the birthing partners some excellent exercises to ease contraction pains during labour, giving them clear instructions on how they can help, i.e. where to rub, what to say, to keep reminding and encouraging us to breath, etc. While the focus of the workshop is to prepare pregnant women for an easier, more comfortable birth, birthing partners are made to feel like a key part of the process.

Every phase of birthing is covered, from preparing your body for birth in the preceding weeks to early labour, active labour, transition and birth.

As well as learning deep relaxation techniques (the more relaxed you are during labour, the less painful the contractions), we were taught how to promote optimal fetal positioning and the most efficient positions to give birth in.

I learnt a huge amount at the workshop and I am so glad that my husband and I attended. The workshop is $188 per couple, which includes a copy of Birth Bliss, The Yoga of Birth by Alexandra Di Cecco. The book contains all the key information covered in the workshop and easy to follow, step-by-step images, making it the perfect addition to your hospital bag as an aid for you and your birthing partner. 

For more information on prenatal yoga classes or the Yoga For Birth workshop at Body Bliss Wellbeing, go to or call (03) 9510 8803. If you can’t make it to Melbourne, you can purchase the eWorkshop and eBook, Birth Bliss, The Yoga of Birth, by Alexandra Di Cecco for $99.

NEXT: 9 benefits of pre-natal yoga>>

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