Spotlight: Jenna Leigh, Pre- and Post-Natal Yoga Instruction and Birth Doula

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"I am Jenna Leigh, a birth doula and prenatal/postnatal yoga instructor with Balanced Beginnings Doulas in Boulder and the surrounding metro Denver area. My job is to support, guide, and enlighten women during their own unique journey into motherhood. I am strongly committed to supporting families through a healthy and peaceful pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. More specifically, I am passionate about helping women build strength, improve posture, and increase energy levels throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period." @jtabatchnick

Can you describe your approach to supporting women through their pregnancies and birthing?

I love taking a mindful approach throughout the journey of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I truly believe in following and trusting your intuition throughout the process. It’s a very intimate, vulnerable and unknown experience. Trusting that your body and baby knows what to do will help attain your birth goals and vision. I am strongly committed to supporting families through a healthy and peaceful pregnancy, birth and postpartum period.

What benefits do you see for women who practice prenatal yoga?

Movement is everything throughout labor! When we stress an emphasis on breathing and moving simultaneously, it transforms your body into a deep relaxation and well-being. This idea that your baby should arrive while constricted to lying on your back is silly to me. When we move our bodies, we move the baby into the birth canal. It also is an awesome coping mechanism throughout the labor process. If it feels good to move, do it! 

If someone has never practiced yoga before, is it possible to start during pregnancy?

Pregnancy is the best time to start practicing! Your body is changing and expanding, making room for a baby. What a better way to relieve these changes and discomforts than stretching and moving your body. It is also an amazing way to get in a great mindset for labor. It helps you relax and lets you focus on yourself! 

Is there an ideal amount of time/number of days per week for someone to practice yoga during pregnancy? 

Anything is better than nothing! Whether it’s 5 minutes or an hour, it will allow you to decompress and check in with yourself. 

What are some particularly helpful poses for women to practice in preparation for labor and delivery?

My go to's are a nice deep squat and forward lunge. Both of these poses really allow the pelvic bones and ligaments to open and move apart from each other, making room for the baby to enter the birth canal. Each pose in yoga requires you to focus inward on your breath. Even shutting off and keening in on your breathing techniques is so helpful in preparing for labor and delivery. My trick, breathe in four, out four. 

What benefits do women derive from postnatal yoga? 

 Within the first six weeks postpartum, we want to nurture the nurturer, while also relieving any stress and tension caused to the woman’s body during pregnancy. Pregnancy can alter your posture and body. When it comes to postpartum, it’s best to focus on engaging your core and strengthening those pelvic floor muscles to help bring strength back to your body! 

What positives do you think that a gestational carrier, in particular, could take from yoga practice during and after a surrogacy journey? 

Being pregnant is a beautiful thing, especially if you are giving back to help a family grow! Of course, there are challenges in the process. There is a potential emotional stress that can come with carrying somebody else’s joy and happiness. Yoga is a great tool to help cope with not only the stress, but the emotional side to it. It is a way to disconnect with the reality of what is to come, and be present with your body and what your body is doing. It can also be a great way to connect with the family you are carrying for. If you could all do a session together, I am confident it will help create a peaceful bond by moving together throughout the journey. I truly believe that centering yourself is a great way to cope with the emotional aspect of surrogacy.