by Polly Woodward

I was in my mid twenties when I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I was devastated, as I’d always wanted children and this felt like a very big obstacle. I went through a chemical menopause to try and reset my system, and a year or so later when my gynaecologist said ‘it’s now or never if you want to get pregnant’, the fact that I was busy planning my wedding didn’t even cross my mind. Miraculously, we got pregnant very quickly, and so I was 9 weeks pregnant (and crossing my fingers that I wasn’t going to throw up) as I walked down the aisle.

I was absolutely delighted to be pregnant, but it came with some pretty crap extras. I was constantly sick, I actually lost weight as my bump grew because I couldn’t keep much down.

I was tired. SO tired! One particular low point was when my husband wandered into the bathroom to find me asleep on the loo. Definitely not the way to keep the romance alive.

And I was anxious; anxious that something would go wrong. It had happened so quickly when we were expecting it to be difficult, so I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was anxious about what I was eating (when I could actually face it), anxious about what kind of parents we would be… were we REALLY ready? And I was especially anxious about my body, and what activities were ‘safe’. I’d been practicing yoga for a while, and was keen to keep up my practice but I was so worried about what was ok to do while pregnant. My yoga teacher was nervous about me coming to class as she did not have prenatal training, and I struggled to find a suitable class in the area. I tried an NCT ‘relax stretch and breathe’ class but, although lovely and relaxing, it wasn’t what I knew as yoga, and I came away feeling frustrated and disheartened. I spent a lot of my pregnancy in tears, or uncontrollably angry. My hormones were raging and I found it so difficult to find any calm.

When I became pregnant with my second daughter, I found a prenatal yoga class which was a 25 minute drive away, and although it was a bit of a trek I was determined to continue my practice. More so because my second pregnancy came with even more crap extras than the first. I was signed off work for the first 3 months as I was suffering with extreme sickness and had a lot of unexplained pain, as well as sporadic bleeding. This of cause sent my anxiety into overdrive, and I was definitely in need of a calming yoga practice! Through yoga I started to feel more relaxed, and when I started to suffer with Pelvic Girdle Pain and was told it was likely that I would end up needing crutches, I relied on the gentle exercises to help strengthen my muscles and keep that possibility at bay (I can also highly recommend kinesiology tape, taping round my hips helped me no end!). During the classes I got to know two other mums, who also had older girls the same age as mine. We formed a strong bond and I’m lucky to say they are two of my closest friends, and I really don’t know how I would have survived life with two small children without them!

When I see these bonds being created in my classes it definitely gives me the warm and fuzzies; it’s so important to have a caring and understanding support system around you throughout your pregnancy and when baby arrives.

It bothered me that there were no prenatal yoga classes in Worcester, and I started to think “maybe I could do that?!”

I’d always wanted to be a yoga teacher but I’d also thought that I wasn’t strong enough in my practice, so I brushed it off as a ‘maybe someday’ kind of dream. When I came across YogaBellies, something clicked for me, and I knew that I COULD do this. Every day I’m so grateful that I took that leap and became a yoga teacher, as every day I see these awesome mums and mums 2be forming bonds and creating their support systems, and gaining so much through their yoga practice. It’s a practice that helps keep them strong and healthy, prepares them for the birth of their baby (or babies!) and gives them coping tools such as relaxation and breathing techniques.

I’m very grateful for my two difficult and exhausting pregnancies, because (aside from giving me my beautiful children), they have given me a wealth of experience and pushed me towards my dream career; where I am able to relate, empathise and help to create a caring supportive community within Worcester. Every day is filled with warm and fuzzies!

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