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Move With Intention and Ease in Your Third Trimester

Use deep breathing and safe prenatal yoga poses to release tension, recharge your energy and prepare your body for labor during the third trimester.



No matter how much I tried to prepare, my third trimester still included things I couldn’t fully control — from my bladder to my employment status to my due date and more. With every change to my body and life, I did my best to prioritize self-care. Ultimately, honoring what my body and mind needed was a way of taking care of my mental health and creating a healthy environment for my baby. Some days, self-care included prenatal yoga or strength training and some days it included breathing exercises, resting and asking for help to get off the couch and waddle to the bathroom. Every day was a new adventure!


The third trimester typically encompasses 28-40(ish) weeks. As the baby continues to grow and develop, the body becomes heavier, which can lead to back aches, sciatica, leg cramps, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, clumsiness, shortness of breath, braxton hicks contractions and more. I also experienced heightened emotions during this trimester — including excitement, apprehension and deep love. I found that intentional diaphragmatic breathing, pelvic floor exercises (lots of kegels), gentle yoga movements, and rest helped me find more ease. 


I filmed a 30-minute video that combines these techniques. While they are generally safe for the third trimester, it is important to listen to your body, rest when needed, and use props that help to support your practice. I recommend having two yoga blocks (or thick books), a blanket and a bolster (or long pillow) set up near your mat. Make sure you are cleared by a doctor before exercising.



I’ve broken down different parts of the video so you can tailor the practice to what you need each day.


Diaphragmatic and pelvic floor breathing: 

Learning how to breathe deeply and engage your pelvic floor can help reduce tearing and discomfort during labor.

  • Place your hands on your rib cage with your thumbs on the back and your four fingers on the front. As you inhale, feel your rib cage expand. As you exhale, feel your ribs knit together like you are hugging your baby from the inside. Repeat this breath a few times

  • Next, add in a pelvic floor activation. As you exhale, allow your pelvic floor to lift up gradually over 4-5 seconds (like an elevator rising to the top). As you inhale, you can release your pelvic floor for 4-5 seconds. Repeat this breath a few times

  • Finally, add in a more forceful exhale as your ribs knit together and your pelvic floor lifts (like you are blowing out candles). Repeat this breath a few times


Seated movements:

As your baby grows, your posture is likely to be impacted and your upper body may become tense. Add these movements into your routine to maintain alignment, mobility and engagement.

  • Release tension in your upper body by moving your shoulders in circles 10 times in one direction and 10 times in the opposite direction

  • Picking up your little one takes effort, so prepare your body by building arm strength. Bend your elbows and make a thumbs up. Then rotate your arms to make a thumbs down. Continue like this for 2 minutes to feel the burn! 

  • After building strength, give yourself a little shoulder and arm massage. This is a great practice to do in labor as well to avoid holding extra tension in your body


Lower back flexion and activation:

These poses can be done beginning in a table top position (bharmanasana) to counteract lower back achiness that can occur in the third trimester.

  • Practice spinal flexion in cat pose (marjariasana). Come on to all fours and find a neutral spine. You can slide a blanket under your knees for extra cushion and place your hands on blocks to elevate the ground. As you exhale, gently round your spine and release tension in your neck. Maintain a softness in your belly. As you inhale, come back to a neutral spine. Continue for 5 or more rounds

  • Place your forearms on blocks or the mat and gently rock back and forth 5-10 times to release your lower back 

  • To maintain balance and strength in your core, extend one leg behind you and turn your toes down. You can keep both hands on the mat or blocks or reach the opposite arm forward. Take a deep breath in and out, then lower your arm and leg back down. Repeat on the other side. Do 3-5 extensions on each side


Hip stretches:

As you prepare for birth, your body naturally produces relaxin, a hormone that helps loosen the muscles, joints and ligaments. Therefore, I recommend backing off slightly to avoid overstretching. These stretches are supported to help release tension while staying upright.

  • From a seated position, bring your right leg in front with your knee and lower leg resting on the mat. Make a 90 degree angle with your thigh and shin. Make another 90 degree angle with your shin and ankle. Flex your right foot so your toes are pointing forward. Bring your left leg beside you with your shin and ankle on the mat. Position your left knee in line with your left hip. With your left leg, make a 90 degree angle with your thigh and your shin. Make another 90 degree angle with your shin and your ankle. Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths. Place your hands behind you and sway your legs from side to side. Then move your left leg in front and repeat on the other side

  • Take a wide legged forward fold (upavistha konasana) and lean a bolster on the ground, resting your forehead on the other end of the bolster. Stay in the pose for 3-5 breaths


Deep rest: 

Growing a tiny human takes a significant amount of energy, so don’t skip savasana! One of my favorite methods during the third trimester is creating a slope using a bolster propped up against two blocks on different heights and leaning up against the bolster. 

  • Once you get settled, you can touch the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to drop open to the side for a bound angle/butterfly variation (baddha konasana)

  • You can extend your legs and roll your ankles in circles to encourage more circulation in the feet and reduce puffiness 

  • When you feel comfortable, surrender into deep relaxation. You can also listen to a guided yoga nidra meditation to calm your nervous system


I am proud of you for giving back to yourself and your baby! How does the third trimester feel compared to your first and second trimester? This pregnancy journey is unique to you, and it’s the exact one you are meant to have. 


I am here to support you during this journey and beyond. Leave me a comment below and let me know how these yoga postures felt and how many weeks along you are. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about a one-on-one session, send me a message using the contact form at the bottom of my homepage or email me at shannonkyeager@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!


Counting the kicks and the days until you meet your little one,

Shannon

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