Hilaria Baldwin may be best known as actor Alec Baldwin’s wife but she made quite a name for herself even before Mr. Baldwin came into her life. She’s an accomplished yoga teacher and expert on fitness with an avid following at New York City’s Yoga Vida. She’s now the mother of a weeks-old infant daughter, Carmen Gabriela Baldwin, after a pregnancy and delivery that involved yoga and other exercises every day and sometimes even into the night. Baldwin, 29, attributes her fitness regimen to easy pregnancy and labor.

Seems the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) agrees with her. Dr. Raul Artal, speaking on behalf of the ACOG, says physically active women do have an easier go of it during and after pregnancy than sedentary women. Artal, a professor at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and chairman of its department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health, helped write the ACOG guidelines and says about 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise most days during a pregnancy will reduce a woman’s risk of obesity and depression. He indicates pregnancy is a major cause of obesity in the US, bringing lifelong health complications to the mother and a higher risk of birth defects to the child she carries.

The link between movement and breath makes the ancient practice of yoga ideal for pregnancy although some changes to one’s daily yoga routine may be in order for safest pregnancy, according to exercise physiologist Jessica Matthews, a yoga instructor who is also a member of the American Council on Exercise. Instead of abandoning an established yoga practice during pregnancy, Matthews suggests tailoring its movements to the stages of the pregnancy:

  • First Trimester - Continue most standing poses and balancing postures but do reach for support of a beam, chair, or wall as the growing belly begins to alter one’s sense of balance.
  • Second Trimester - Use pillows and props for added support and comfort as the aches, pains, and other discomforts typical of the second trimester of pregnancy begin to develop.
  • Third Trimester - Minimize postures, focusing instead of breath work and relaxation techniques that will ease the delivery process.

Baldwin says she continued to exercise every day of her pregnancy although less strenuously than before. Yoga and jogging were part of her daily pregnancy workout but so was getting out of bed in the middle of the night for stretching exercises when the discomforts of pregnancy kept her awake. She’s turned her experience into a fitness DVD called “@Home with Hilaria Baldwin: Fit Mommy-to-Be Prenatal Yoga.”

Baby Carmen already has yoga mats of her own and Mrs. Baldwin hopes the child will help encourage her father to become more actively involved in the practice, too, as she grows up in an environment where yoga is a routine part of every day.