Benefits of a Prenatal Partner Class - or Why Should I Drag my Partner to Yoga on a Saturday Afternoon?

by Andrea Dixon

When I first started teaching prenatal partner yoga classes, I was pregnant with my first child. Since I was pregnant along with my students, my husband came with me to be my partner in the partner classes. I knew it wasn’t his first choice of things to do on a Saturday afternoon, but he was agreeable and sweet about it. After our son was born, he confessed that he actually hadn’t really wanted to go at all, but he was glad he had since what he learned was so helpful to him when he supported me in labor!

I’ve heard similarly from many other students and their partners through the years, so I know my husband is not alone in his experience. Partner prenatal classes offer ways to support your shared experience of awaiting your child, connect with each other and with your baby, as well as tangible tools, poses, and ideas for partners give supportive during pregnancy and birth.

Connecting with each other

Much of pregnancy revolves around logistics, planning, worrying, strategizing…. the endless to-do lists of regular life with the added projects of preparing for a baby. Attending a partner class is a way to slow down and honor this huge shift in your lives – you are about to become parents and caregivers to this baby – and this baby will transform your family and your relationship with each other. Prenatal partner yoga classes involve true partner poses – where both of you are doing the same pose together or alternating in supporting each other. Connecting in this way while pregnant can be especially powerful.

Body Awareness & Labor Preparation

Yoga can help with increased body awareness – for both mom and partner. Labor is hard work, and moms need support! Sometimes, though not always, the support needed is very hands on, and can be tough on partners. Awareness of your posture and body mechanics can help prevent discomfort and injury while giving support during labor. Partner classes also include poses and positions where the pregnant woman is the focus, and the partner is offering support. We talk about ways to maximize support while also keeping it as low-intensity as possible for the partner. If a mom needs her hips squeezed for any length of time, partners need to know how to conserve their energy, and that starts with their own posture and position.

Women attending regular prenatal yoga classes will get a lot of ideas relevant to labor and birth (poses, movements, breath work, vocalizing), and partner classes brings her partner into the mix. This expands the options of what’s possible (for example, supported squats are a lot more accessible than unsupported squats during labor). This is especially helpful so s/he knows what might be helpful and can remind their laboring partner of ideas to try.

Trust in Yourselves

Perhaps the longest lasting and most important benefit students receive from partner yoga classes is cultivating trust in themselves. When you allow for spaciousness in yourself and in your relationships, it is far easier to connect with and pay attention to your intuition. This intuition can be drawn upon during labor, and as you transition your family to include this baby. No one knows your baby like you. And as the parents, caregivers or grandparents of this baby, no one loves him or her like you and your partner. Staying connected to that wisdom and love that you share can help strengthen your bond as a couple. It can also enhance your ability to draw on each other’s strengths, and to support each other when things are challenging (we all have our many, many moments of challenge as parents and caregivers!).

Prenatal partner classes are a wonderful supplement to childbirth education classes, which I always recommend to expectant mothers and their partners. Also, the book The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin as a fantastic resource for partners to read ahead of time, and pack in the birth bag.  

 Our partner classes take place monthly at our Geer St. studio location. The next class is April 22nd from 12:30 - 2:00. Hope to see you and your partner in class soon!