Pregnant women practicing at the Prenatal Yoga Center on the Upper West Side pose for “sun salutation,” a popular yoga sequence focused on breathing and stretching. Photo by Annamarya Scaccia.

How to Stay Centered While Pregnant and Working

Text and photos by Annamarya Scaccia

Like many New Yorkers, Morgan Baden walked everywhere — to the subway, to her favorite lunch spot, to work. But after she became pregnant with her first child last January, walking anywhere began to feel like climbing Mount Everest. She was tired and moved slowly. Her feet hurt so much during her third trimester, she said, that some days felt “insurmountable.”

Baden realized her normal routine did not work in her pregnant state. She sought out ways to deal with the challenges she faced as a pregnant woman living, working and commuting in New York City. She began to practice prenatal yoga, indulge in massages and splurge on gourmet items — all part of “self-care,” the latest catchphrase for anyone taking care of their physical, mental and emotional selves.

“Pregnancy should be more fun than we allow it to be,” said Baden after she and her husband had a baby girl in October.

So whether you’re a first-time expectant mom or welcoming another child, here are some ways to feel pampered while pregnant and navigating city life.

Body.

Prenatal yoga is a popular workout among expectant moms that uses simple movements to address the physiological changes that occur in pregnancy. Baden says her favorite pose is “the triangle” — in which you stretch your legs wider than your hips, bend over to one side and reach one arm to the sky. Prenatal poses can lessen body aches, relieve anxiety and build strength for labor, said Debra Flashenberg, director of the Prenatal Yoga Center, an exercise studio on the Upper West Side.

“The pregnant body changes so much, it’s important to keep stretching and moving,” said Flashenberg, 41, who taught and practiced prenatal yoga during the pregnancies of her 1-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

Moms-to-be with hectic lives can practice prenatal yoga at home. Baden said for most of her daily yoga sessions she followed a 30-minute DVD or YouTube videos or posed unassisted for 10 minutes.

Pregnant women practicing at the Prenatal Yoga Center on the Upper West Side stretch to relax the body and stabilize the pelvis for an optimal birth experience, said Director Debra Flashenberg. Photo by Annamarya Scaccia.

Mind.

Group prenatal care — known as “centering pregnancy” — provides a supportive network for expectant moms, said Dr. Peter S. Bernstein, director of the Centering Pregnancy Program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

“It’s an opportunity for them to learn from each other,” he said.

Developed in 1989 by nurse-midwife Sharon Schindler, centering pregnancy brings together eight to 12 women at about the same stage of pregnancy in a group to undergo check-ups and learn birthing and parenting skills. It also takes those waiting room conversations and brings them in to a communal environment where the dialogue lasts longer, Bernstein said.

Similarly, prenatal yoga classes help expectant moms form friendships despite chaotic work schedules, said Flashenberg, who has taught the discipline for 13 years.

“Pregnancy can be isolating, especially in a place like New York,” she said. “Knowing you’re not alone is a really big part of prenatal yoga.”

“In a fast-paced city, letting yourself just be still for months
at a time feels religious.” — Morgan Baden.

Soul.

Baden said she allowed herself to indulge in little pleasures during pregnancy to offset the additional physical and emotional hardships. She bought upscale maternity clothes and artisan cheeses. She took weeklong vacations with friends and special getaways with her husband. She slept in late, turned down invitations and lounged around on weekends. And she expressed her feelings more often to deal with the intense hormonal changes, she said.

“In a fast-paced city, letting yourself just be still for months at a time feels religious,” said Baden.

Flashenberg advises moms-to-be to also accept the body’s changes. Don’t compare yourself to other pregnant women, she said, whether it’s in body shape, belly size or physical ability.

Some pregnant women may continue to run at eight months, but it’s OK if you’re not one of them, said Flashenberg.

“Especially in a place like New York, where it’s so Type A personality. You don’t have to keep up with everyone,” she added.

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