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Yiheyuan Martial Arts

Real Tai Chi in Leeds, UK

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Tai Chi for Mums-to-be
The following are posts from our Facebook wall, shared here so that they can be accessed by more mums-to-be and the health professionals who are supporting them, in the hope that some will find it helpful.
Tai Chi Breathing in Childbirth
During the second stage of labour, as the baby makes its way down the birth canal, conventional wisdom among attendant medical personnel in some hospitals would have you take a deep breath, hold it and push like crazy during each contraction and then relax and breathe normally until the next one. The result of this is a yo-yo effect on the baby, which goes down a little way and then slides back upwards so that the process takes forever and both mother and baby end up exhausted, distressed and more likely to need medical intervention. We also know of one lady who went permanently deaf in both ears as a result of the pressure generated in the head by such pushing.
Tai Chi breathing, on the other hand, can ease and speed up the process considerably. Keep the whole upper body relaxed at all times. As the contraction builds, breathe out slowly, pushing from the waist down. If you run out of breath, just top up the air in your lungs while maintaining the push with your muscles and then continue to breathe out with the push. When the contraction subsides, just continue to breathe normally but keep the internal muscular pressure on the baby so that it doesn't slip upwards while you rest. That way, with just a few pushes and minimal effort, your baby is likely to be out into the world.
How do I know? Been there. Done it. Three times.  Also from the experiences of other mums who have tried this and found it helpful.
Tai Chi in Pregnancy
From personal experience, we can recommend Tai Chi as a gentle form of exercise during pregnancy. As well as having a calming effect, enabling the mother to relax and enjoy the experience, it is great for improving circulation, helps to maintain stable blood pressure and is bliss for the lower back. The weight of a growing baby tends to pull on the spine and arch the back. Tai Chi posture counteracts this by dropping the tailbone, straightening the spine and relieving pressure on the lumbar vertebrae and surrounding muscles.

Three things to avoid during pregnancy when practicing any martial art:
1. High kicks. The ligaments soften during late pregnancy to allow the baby to be born. High kicks can over-strain ligaments in the groin area, leading to discomfort and limited mobility during and after the birth.

2. Fa jing. Release of explosive power, or shaking jing, is not recommended during pregnancy, for very obvious reasons.

3. Sparring, combat (San Shou) and competitive pushing hands or any other activity which could result in being pushed, hit or kicked in the abdominal area or chest.
All the best to all mum's-to-be everywhere

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