Taijiquan in Pregnancy
I began studying t'ai chi one year before I became pregnant for the first time. (my first child is now 33.) I thought t'ai chi would be the very best exercise for me during my pregnancy and I was right. During the process of my baby growing and my body changing my t'ai chi practice taught me how to adjust my balance and accommodate all the changes I was going through. I went to New York to study intensively at Shr Jung while I was pregnant. By the time I was pregnant with my second child I had received permission from Professor Cheng Man-Ching's Shr Jung Center to teach. Professor was in NY and because of some serious situations I went to NY and so that I could be treated by him. I took classes every day. No one ever expressed any concerns about me doing t'ai chi while I was pregnant nor did I feel anything contraindicated. (Afterward I learned that Frederick LeBoyer, the famous french obstetrician, had said that he felt the two most important things a pregnant woman can do is sing and do t'ai chi.)
During both pregnancies I practiced my t'ai chi every day, morning and evening without exception. Practicing t'ai chi helped me immensely during the entire pregnancy and also during labor. Even in the hospital, during late labor, every time I got up to urinate I also played the first section and it alleviated the pain...completely. After birth, as soon as I could, I did the form in my mind, even while lying in the bed, and I could feel the healing effects and tingling in my fingers--just as when I did a very good form. The nurses and doctors were amazed by my quick "recovery." I was up and playing t'ai chi before they felt I should/could; I returned to my natural ways and movements much more quickly than the other mothers. T'ai chi ch'uan was the greatest healing support I had.
Once my baby was born, when she cried and I could not console her in other ways, if I held her and did t'ai chi she would be comforted and stop crying. Later, at times, just seeing me play t'ai chi she would be calmed and quieted.
I have worked over these 33 years with many pregnant woman and coached them during their pregnancies. I am also a doula and as a somatic psychotherapist work therapeutically with babies (as well as adults) in helping resolve birth traumas. I find no contraindications in practicing t'ai chi ch'uan during pregnancy. To the contrary, I find it to be the most wonderful exercise and physical/energetic support for both mother and baby that I know. It is even better if the father practices t'ai chi also.
I want to make it clear, however, that I am only speaking about our short yang form as taught by Professor Cheng Man-Ching and subsequent qualified teachers following all the principles. I know no other form, practice no other form, and can not speak about any other form. Thank you.
Judyth O. Weaver