Building a Better Health Service


Zen Mama – Pregnancy Yoga

Midwife Sandra Sherwin knew from personal experience how beneficial yoga was during pregnancy and was on a mission to make antenatal yoga classes freely available to the women attending Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

Thanks to Sandra’s hard work and determination and the support of her managers at the hospital, the classes are now up and running and proving very popular.

“During my own pregnancy two years ago I kept up my usual attendance at my local gym and attended some pregnancy yoga classes.  I found it invaluable for keeping the usual pregnancy niggles at bay but also made me feel like myself for an hour a day,” explained Sandra.

It also finally gave her the confidence to start teaching classes after years of undertaking courses.

These complimentary classes offer an excellent opportunity for local women to meet in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.  They are taught by midwife Sandra, who has qualifications as a gym instructor specialising in pre- and post-natal fitness and has recently qualified as an antenatal yoga instructor.

“It reminded me what pregnant women are capable of, how strong they are. Classes can be expensive so I wanted to make them available to everyone, and thankfully my managers supported me in providing the service to clients of the hospital for free.  I've had the good fortune to meet some of the women during their labour and they all report back that the breathing techniques are very helpful,” she added.

During the classes the women move through a series of poses to help strengthen, stretch and relax the body and mind during pregnancy, birth and into motherhood.

Exercise in pregnancy is recommended to maintain strength and fitness.  It can also help alleviate some common complaints of pregnancy such as muscle cramps, lower back pain and constipation.

Many women find it difficult to find an avenue to maintain their fitness during pregnancy.  Until recently pregnancy was seen as a time for taking it easy and putting your feet up.  Exercise options were often limited to swimming or walking.  Recently there has been a boom in fitness classes tailored for pregnant women.

Zen Mama yoga offers a practice that is suitable for beginners but is adaptable to women with higher levels of fitness, through progressions of the yoga poses. 

So far, nine Zen babies have been born – with another due very soon. Organisers have received excellent feedback from mothers attending classes who found breathing techniques and birthing positions they had practised very helpful.

Megan, mum to three children, joined Sandra’s yoga classes when she was about 26 weeks pregnant on my fourth baby.

“I find it great for relaxation, stretching out and enjoying some one on one time with baby.I have learned some great breathing exercises also which I know will benefit me during labour,” revealed Megan.

Laura, a mum of two, said she thoroughly enjoyed Zenmamma yoga in the third trimester of her pregnancy.

“Sandra teaches a wonderful range of poses and stretches for all abilities, which were easy to replicate at home to ease pregnancy discomfort and to build strength and confidence. The breathing techniques and movements aided me hugely in labour, helping to keep me focused and in control. The classes were very relaxed and enjoyable and full of great discussions and advice. I cannot recommend it highly enough,” she said.