Traditional yogis, as well as many other cultural groups, sit on the floor to eat. To some people this may seem a strange practice, used only by those too poor to afford tables and chairs, but in fact, sitting on the floor to eat with the legs folded and the spine straight is the ideal position for comfortable eating. Sitting in a chair, particularly when heavily pregnant, encourages the lower back to slump, restricting the function of both the diaphragm and the stomach.
By sitting on the floor, maybe with a few cushions under your hips or buttocks, the pelvis tilts forward allowing your belly to fall forward and away from the stomach. If you experience fluid retention or stiffness from folding the legs for any length of time, they can simply be stretched straight out in front for a while to restore circulation. And at other times, one should keep up the practise of the simple Pawanmuktasana leg exercises to help keep the body supple and circulation flowing. More about good posture and eating is included in Chapter 8, “Creating Changes – Posture”, page 563.
For several reasons, constipation can become a common problem during pregnancy. As the baby grows it puts more pressure on parts on the bowels, partially blocking the flow of waste matter in the colon. It is a normal side effect of pregnancy hormones that the digestive tract slows down. Constipation can be prevented and relieved by appropriate exercise to allow the baby and your intestines to fit around each other. See Chapter 9, Prescriptive Yoga Programs – “”, page 2026.
Constipation can also be caused by general stress, as well as anxiety about the approaching birth. In chronic cases constipation can lead to haemorrhoids. See Chapter 9, Prescriptive Yoga Programs – “Haemorrhoids”, page 2014.
Constipation can also be a side effect of increased progesterone in your system. Just as in the luteal (post-ovulatory) phase of the fertility cycle, during pregnancy the levels of progester-
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one gradually increase. This can first appear from as early as 8 - 10 weeks pregnant.
In any cause, the solution is to be found with good exercise and activity, coupled with a diet based on high fibre, easily digestible foods and plenty of water.
When pregnant, those with diabetes mellitus, or those diagnosed with so-called gestational diabetes, must pay attention even more than normal to a quality, balanced diet. To keep blood sugar levels manageable, diabetics sometimes need to eat top-up foods in-between meals. This is not to be confused with snacking for emotional needs or just the result of a disordered life.
These in-between meals should be high quality, easily assimilated ingredients and should fit into the overall meal plan and weekly diet, one which is balanced for all your body’s needs and the baby’s (and not just a sugar hit). Yogic therapeutic management of diabetes over many years has shown that, in conjunction with specific yoga practices, the more a diabetic can regularise their meals and their energy output into the most advantageous times, the less the in-between-meal food will be needed. This same principle applies to any pregnant woman, with or without so-called gestational diabetes.
As mentioned previously, a concern for women with either previous or gestational induced diabetes is the possibility of a larger than normal baby. The occurrence of a large baby is not always concomitant with diabetes, and is nowadays becoming more frequent with non-diabetic women. Whilst there is disagreement between experts as to whether dietary modifications can assist diabetics to reduce the likelihood of a very large baby, there is general agreement that excessive food intake, (or an excess of starchy, fatty and sugary foods by any mother) does create a larger than usual baby, and can lead to a more difficult labour and birth.
When pregnant, a woman gradually becomes less and less focussed on outside matters, other people, other places and other activities, and is forced by nature to spend a lot more time than she normally would considering herself, her needs, her body and her developing child. Or at least she should. It is sad
that some women do not surrender to, and take the time to enjoy, this necessary change of focus. As your awareness turns inwards, a reassessment of the external environment needs to take place. Sometimes this occurs spontaneously as you begin to realise that some people