A note from Mama Bird: This is the fifth post in a series on birth. I had an amazing experience and am now passionate about birth education and choices. I believe that all kinds of births are awe-inspiring miracles and life-changing experiences. I don’t believe that one kind of birth is necessarily better than any other. But I do believe that the current American medical system does not educate women and families on all the options that are available. Please check back for new installments in this ongoing series, which includes our birth story. Use the subscription box to the right if you would like an email notification when new posts are published.
Baby Bird’s Birth Part Five: How I Used the Bar Method to Prepare for Birth
First, what is the Bar Method? And does it involve alcohol??
Sadly, no booze. But these exercise classes (popular with Hollywood-types for creating long, lean dancers’ bodies) do create a natural high.
I started going to Bar Method classes before my wedding in 2010. My body type is naturally on the thin side, so I passed 30 without having much of a workout routine beyond occasional yoga and dance. But with my wedding approaching, I wanted to tone my arms and improve my posture. I definitely met my goal of more toned arms and straighter posture by my wedding. But then I kept going! My husband laughed at me when we were both home jet lagged after our honeymoon and I went out our first day back to take a Bar class!
My results included toned arms, better posture, tighter lifted butt, strong slim thighs and core strength. Basically all the things every woman wants. I’ve been heavy into yoga before but these results are above and beyond. The crazy thing is that it takes just a few Bar Method classes to get how to do the exercises but you will ALWAYS be trying to perfect them. So, the more you go, the harder it gets. The class is very challenging, literally shaking and exhausting your muscles, but it is actually low to no impact. Many of the exercises are like physical therapy. I used to have chronic knee problems, but the strengthening has cleared it up.
Wait, you can do Bar Method classes when you are pregnant?
Yup! When I was pregnant with Little Bird #1, the owner of the San Diego Bar Method in Point Loma, Allison (herself a two time Bar Mama), offered a workshop on prenatal modifications. I also attended a class taught by Bar Method founder, Burr Leonard, at the Solana Beach Bar Method while pregnant.
For this second pregnancy, I again used the prenatal modifications. For example, after twenty weeks, you no longer lay flat on your back. Modifications are gradually added as your body changes. Care is also took to not squeeze the baby too much by overworking the transvers abdominus, or “girdle muscle.” To know more about Bar Method pregnancy modifications check out this page.
And how can the Bar Method help prepare for birth??
This pregnancy, after learning in Jolie Cash’s Hot Mama Prenatal Yoga, how sustaining an interval of intensity can prepare for contractions or surges, I rejoiced that a Bar Method class is ALL intervals! Each thigh exercise gave me the mental preparation to face contractions without fear and with the confidence that they will pass. I wrote more about this realization and how it inspired me to try for an all natural, medication-free birth here.
My first pregnancy, I stopped attending Bar Method around 35 weeks and switched to solely using prenatal yoga for exercise. This time I was still going strong at 39 weeks, and only stopped going because I had gone on maternity leave at work and did not have childcare to go work out.
Finally, as part of my hypnobirthing preparation, I was instructed to practice different breathing techniques for relaxation and surges. Allison laughed at me one class when I appeared to be taking a break during a difficult exercise. I smiled and explained how it was the perfect opportunity to practice breathing and focusing.
THE BABY BIRDS BIRTH SERIES
Part One: Why I Pursued an Unmedicated, Intervention-Free Birth
Part Two: The Surprising Birth Story of Baby Bird #2
Part Three: The Birth of Baby Bird #2 from the Eyes of Our Doula
Part Four: How My Mama Tribe Helped My Pregnancy
Part Five: How I Used the Bar Method to Prepare for Birth