May 29, 2024

Placenta Previa and Prenatal Yoga

Learn how to safely modify your prenatal yoga practice and which yoga poses to avoid if you have placenta previa.

Placenta previa is a condition that occurs during pregnancy where the placenta is either fully, partially, or marginally covering the cervix. 

According to statistics, placenta previa affects 1 out of 200 pregnancies. However, in the majority of those diagnosed with placenta previa, by the third trimester of pregnancy, placenta previa corrects by itself as the placenta may move away from the cervical opening as the baby grows. 

So how does placenta previa affect your prenatal yoga practice?

While many prenatal yoga poses are perfectly safe for those who have placenta previa, here at the Prenatal Yoga Center, we recommend particular yoga modifications to ensure that there is no extra downward pressure into the pelvis. 

Let’s dive in and discuss how this can be done!

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What is Placenta Previa?

First of all, let’s go into a bit more detail about this condition. 

As previously mentioned, placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta is covering the cervical opening, either fully, partially, or marginally.

Fully The placenta is fully covering the cervical opening
PartiallyThe placenta is covering part of the cervical opening
MarginallyThe placenta is next to the cervical opening.

Placenta previa is usually detected at the 16 or 20 week anatomy scan. For most people who have partial or marginal previa, it is usually resolved as pregnancy progresses. This happens because the placenta adheres to the uterine wall so as the uterus grows, the placenta is lifted away from the cervix. However, if someone is still presenting with placenta previa or even a low lying placenta of less than 2 cm from the cervix near their due date, they will need to give birth via cesarean. (For those that will need to have a c-section, you may want to read Keep A Cesarean Birth As Intimate As Possible).

Watch the video below to get a better understanding of placenta previa. 

How likely are you to develop placenta previa?

A pregnant person is more likely to have previa if they had it in previous pregnancies, had a previous c-section, has uterine scars, is carrying twins, is a smoker, or is over the age of 35. But don’t worry- if you fall into one of those categories and your provider has not mentioned previa to you, you are likely fine. Once the placenta implants itself on the uterine wall away from the cervix, it does not usually move downward.

Which yoga poses should you avoid if you have placenta previa?

Some people with previa, usually full previa or those that have had vaginal bleeding, may be put on bed rest or pelvic rest. Others may be asked just to reduce their activity. To accommodate those with placenta previa during yoga we need to eliminate or modify poses that add extra pelvic pressure or compress the abdomen.

Deep openings

Poses that create deep pelvic inlet openings, such as deep unsupported squats, should be removed or modified during yoga practice. Instead, pregnant folks can squat on two or three blocks, supporting the pelvic floor. Additionally, they should do poses like virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) either with a shorter stance or sitting on a chair. The same modification should be made for utthita parsvakonasana (extended side angle) and Goddess pose.

Some seated poses

Some seated poses like baddha konasana (bound angle pose also known as tailor’s pose) need to be adjusted. The pregnant parent should be seated on either a bolster or one or two blankets with their feet further forward, more like tarasana (star pose) with blocks propping their knees up. This will lessen the opening of the pelvic inlet.

Poses that compress the abdomen

It is also important to stay away from poses that compress the abdomen. Deep twists are contraindicated during pregnancy, so that is easy to avoid. When twisting the pregnant parent should focus on isolating their twist to the upper back –  “above the bra strap line” is how I like to describe it. It would also be best to avoid abdominal toning that puts more pressure downward into the pelvis. In our prenatal yoga classes, we focus on transverses abdominal exercises. During this segment of class, I invite parents with previa to either take a restorative pose, or rest in child’s pose, or focus on 360 breathing! 

Most prenatal yoga poses are safe for those with placenta previa

Other than those exceptions, a person with placenta previa can still enjoy most of what the prenatal yoga class has to offer. I hope that these explanations are helpful to those practitioners with placenta previa, and to yoga teachers working with pregnant students. 

Get support in your prenatal yoga practice and book an online or in-person class by clicking the button below!

FAQs

What is the difference between a low-lying placenta and placenta previa?

A pregnant person is considered to have a low-lying placenta if their placenta is less than 2cm away from the cervical opening. Placenta previa on the other hand, is when the placenta covers the cervical opening to some extent. A low-lying placenta also carries some risks but is overall lower risk than placenta previa.

Is chair yoga a better option for those with placenta previa?

Chair yoga can be a better option for those who have been advised against strenuous physical activity by their doctors or have been put on pelvic rest. Pregnant folks can still receive the benefits of prenatal yoga and avoid the risk of over-exerting themselves. 

What are the risks of doing prenatal yoga with full or complete placenta previa?

If you have been diagnosed with complete placenta previa (fully covering) then it is important to speak to your care provider before carrying out any kind of exercise. Complete placenta previa has a higher risk than partial, marginal or low-lying. The risk mainly being that bleeding could occur or an abruption of the placenta. 

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