An Interview with Paula Sims, Active Birth Pregnancy Yoga Teacher

Paula demonstrating one of the pregnancy yoga position she teaches

Paula demonstrating one of the pregnancy yoga positions she teaches

Hi Paula! Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you!

I am Paula Sims, Active Birth Pregnancy Yoga Teacher, and mother of 3 boys, aged 12, 11 and 7.

Tell us a bit about your company and the inspiration behind setting up your business?

When my first 2 boys were born, 18 months apart, I was running my own Vehicle Finance Brokerage in Moseley. I had a home office, and was juggling my business with my boys. As they grew, I decided I wanted to arrange my working hours around them so that I could enjoy those precious, gone-in-a-flash early years. I had attended Active Birth Yoga Classes in Solihull through both pregnancies and felt that what I had learned in those classes helped my birth experiences to be as wonderful and positive as they were. All of my boys were born at home in a Birth Pool, and were truly amazing. I wanted to help other women to achieve such empowering births. So, I bought some Birth Pools to hire out, and spent the next 2.5 years training with the Active Birth Centre in London to become an Active Birth Pregnancy Yoga teacher. I have now been teaching for about 8 years, and I love it.

What do enjoy most about teaching Pregnancy Yoga?

I feel honoured to be able to share in these precious months of a woman’s pregnancy, to help her to prepare mentally and physically for her labour and gain confidence in her body’s ability to give birth.

In a class full of ladies at different stages of pregnancy and with different levels of ability, how do you manage to keep everyone engaged and motivated?

Yoga practice is very personal; each student has their own journey of development. It isn’t competitive. I encourage each of my students to push themselves within their own capabilities, without comparison to others. Sometimes, there may be variations that are suitable for some students, which I advise through the class. During the yoga practise, I also talk about how these yoga poses can help to encourage the baby into an optimal fetal position, which will help labour to be quicker and easier, and what positions are useful during labour. So, there’s always a lot to think about.

Why should a pregnant lady do yoga and when is the best time for her to start?

Active Birth Yoga is suitable for all women from 14 weeks up to the birth of your baby. The more classes you can come to, the more effective they are. Encouraging your baby into the Optimal Fetal Position will help your birth to be quicker and easier. As you become accustomed to the positions that will be useful for labour, these positions will become more instinctive so that when you are in labour, you don’t question what you need to do. You will be confident in your body’s own ability to give birth, and able to listen to your natural instincts. We focus on the pelvic floor muscles, making sure they stay strong through the pregnancy, and practice yoga to open the pelvis, strengthen the body and increase stamina. Relaxation forms an important part of the yoga class. Throughout your pregnancy this will bring some inner calmness to you and your baby, and is particularly important during labour. When you breath deeply and relax, it becomes much more manageable and less painful. You are less likely to need medical pain relief and more likely to have a natural birth. At the end of each session, we have some fruit tea, biscuits and fresh fruit and a chance for a good chat. This is a great opportunity to get to know the other mums-to-be and ask any questions. And we sometimes have a mum-and-baby come back to share their experience. So there are lots of different elements to the class, whether you are interested in the yoga, the birth preparation, the relaxation or social time, there will be something that will help you through your pregnancy and birth.

Are there any particular discomforts or conditions that a pregnant woman can alleviate by doing pregnancy yoga?

Many pregnant women experience back ache through pregnancy. Through strengthening these back muscles every week, coupled with awareness of posture, these aches will often be alleviated. Certain yoga postures are helpful in easing heartburn. Towards the end of pregnancy, women often feel as though there is no room left, and breathing becomes a little more difficult. Some of the yoga poses each week will work on bringing more space to the front of the body, encouraging deeper breathing. Incontinence is very common during pregnancy and postnatally. Regular and correct practice of pelvic floor exercises will help to strengthen this area. These exercises are incorporated into each class. Certain discomforts, eg. Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP, SPD or DSP) need to be managed by avoiding specific positions. If this is applicable to you, I can advise and will always offer alternatives to maintain the stability of the pelvis.

If you could recommend and suggest one yoga position to pregnant ladies, what would it be and why?

Squatting (not deep squatting) with the knees just below hip height. This improves strength and stamina, whilst opening the pelvis, and encouraging the baby to move down into the pelvis. If there is any discomfort with the pelvis, squatting can be done on a birth ball with feet hip distance apart.

Other than teaching pregnancy yoga, what other services, if any, do you offer pregnant women?

I teach Post Natal Pregnancy focusing particularly on strengthening core muscles (pelvic floor and stomach muscles), posture awareness, with time for relaxation and socialising with the other mums and babies. Once a month, I run an Active Birth Partners workshop for mums and their partners to come along to learn how they can work together to make the birth easier. I also have Birth Pools for hire – they are large (easily large enough for 2 people), sturdy, fibreglass, oval birth pools, which come with everything you need, apart from the water!

Besides teaching pregnancy yoga, what else do YOU do to take care of your body and your mind?

Apart from yoga, I enjoy swimming and riding my bike for general fitness, but my big passion is horse riding.

Finally, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Please can we hear your top tip for a positive birth experience?

Get your baby into the Optimal Fetal Position before labour, be upright and active, focus on deepening the out-breath, stay relaxed, and remember each contraction brings you closer to meeting your baby. And enjoy it – it is a really unique experience!

Contact Paula on the below:
0121 449 9843