Hilaria Baldwin, wife of actor Alec, takes a holistic approach to wellness during pregnancy. About halfway through her first pregnancy, Baldwin, 29, is eschewing chocolate cake for ginger tea with lemon, while calming down and staying fit with lots of yoga. We spoke to the yoga instructor, who teaches at Yoga Vida’s two locations in Noho and Union Square, about her lifestyle as she prepares for the birth of her daughter.
Q. Which yoga poses do you find most beneficial during pregnancy?
A. The ones that are beneficial are hip openers, especially because I want to deliver as naturally as possible. I did suffer a left hip fracture at 25, that was not a fun experience. I definitely notice in my pregnancy that my left hip is acting up a little so I’m focusing on opening up my hips. Then your lower back starts to hurt, especially as you’re getting heavier. I hear it’s normal for pregnant women to experience back pain, so I do a lot of cat-cow and a lot of forward bends, obviously now with my belly I have to keep my legs wide. It’s also very common to get restless leg syndrome when you’re sleeping, and definitely my legs start to cramp up sometimes, so downward dog is great. And this is not yoga, but Alec gives great foot rubs.
Q. What poses should be avoided during pregnancy?
A. You don’t want to get your heart rate up too much, my doctor says max 140 [beats per minute], so I’ve really cut down on my cardio, because I used to really like to run. In terms of yoga, I try not to do things that are too strenuous and I’m very careful of supporting my belly. You have to be careful not to strain and pull, can’t do any deep twists. When you’re pregnant, you have to learn to move in a very different way.
Q. What props and tools have you found most helpful?
A. I’m a big fan of Physique 57 [in New York City]. It’s ballet barre, I go nearly every day. They have these really big wedges, imagine a really big wedge of cheese, and I sleep on it, but it’s also great when I’m doing yoga because I can recline on my back but I’m at an angle where it’s safe for both me and the baby. I also use blocks a lot more than I did before. Even doing a normal vinyasa, like a sun salutation, I have blocks under my hands in downward-facing dog and chaturanga and upward-facing dog so I have a little bit more space. You kind of just have to take it a little bit slower, listen to your body and not push it.
Q. How have the mental aspects of yoga been helping during pregnancy?
A. The purpose, for me, of doing yoga – because there are a million different ways you can exercise and stretch that are good and beneficial for your body – but the key to yoga is that you’re breathing and you’re making conscious movements. So you’re constantly focusing on every single movement you make. When you leave yoga class, you are so much more aware of how your body is. The number one thing in taking care of yourself in pregnancy is having low stress. It’s really about being more in touch with your body, and yoga teaches that to you.
Q. Has your diet changed since becoming pregnant?
A. I work a lot – my job is very active, so I would get up at 5 in the morning, eat an apple, walk my dogs, go work out and have little tiny snacks during the day, but sometimes I would forget to eat, then at night I’d be ravenous. And now, I should take the luxury to sit down and have a proper meal. My doc told me you only need an additional 300 to 400 calories a day, but I’m eating more dense foods – carbs, healthy carbs, whole grains – than I was before. I’m focusing very much on the stage of my daughter, what she is going through, her bone structure, if her brain is forming, whatever is going on, and then I try to eat foods that are conducive to that. I am vegan, but I’ve been eating fish occasionally [on my doctor’s recommendation]. I eat so much protein – a lot of tempeh, tofu, nuts, beans, seeds, quinoa. Aside from the fish, I stay pretty much vegan. I have nine months to do this right and all of my research and everything I read tells me that animal protein is not good for you.