The American AquaNatal program prepares pregnant women for self-empowerment, with conscious breathing, movements, visualization, fun and relaxation in warm water, by revealing the sensitive connection of woman and child, gravity with buoyancy, breathing with movement, and grace with release in a format that is easy to absorb and that is helpful for any type of birth.
The American AquaNatal program might have been an interesting and involved project to develop, if any of us participating back in the early 80's would have had an incling of where AquaNatal would take us. But we had no idea that our water exercises would become a recognized program.
What we knew when we began was that we were exercising for wellness, having fun in the water, and exchanging information for the best possible pregnancy, birthing, and post partum experiences of mothers, babies and families.
'This was true in the early days of AquaNatal and continues to this day!'
Marina Alzugaray MS, LM, ARNP, CNM, CPM, Developer of the American AquaNatal Program tells the story:
I was able to develop the American AquaNatal program because of the pregnant women attending the water exercise classes, my midwifery experience, and my love for water, dolphins, and birth. I decided to teach a prenatal water exercise class because of my desire to swim with dolphins in the ocean. I have had the opportunity to meet a dolphin pod, but I found them more than agil, they were powerful and graceful all at once. I knew that I needed to spend time training myself to be as fit in the water as I could in preparation for my next encounter with my new cetacean friends.
I was a swimmer, dance teacher and midwife in Santa Barbara, California. I knew that pregnant women would benefit from water, from the movements in Middle Eastern dance, and from yoga stretches and breathing. I found a pool and began the prenatal water classes in 1985.
We were embarking on a watery journey. Weeks and then years went by while the prenatal water exercise classes promoted wellness by increasing body awareness and by creating an opportunity to develop a deeper bond between mother and child. I noted what worked in the classes and what was helpful for births, and wove it into the exercise routine.
For example we focused on letting go with the breath meaning breathing discomfort out. We would breath deeply, staying in the moment, relaxing, and releasing muscle tension and body discomforts with each breath. The ability to release tension with the breath was reinforced during each AquaNatal exercise. Letting go with the breath become a learned knowledge that provided us with a deeper connection with our own selves and our healing potential. A natural ability that is extremely useful during childbirth. This moment to moment experiencing the body and breathing, letting go and relaxing, was similar to that phase of labor when women need to proceed one contraction at a time, responding to their body when it calls for their attention and otherwise breathing and relaxing when at ease. At these timeless moments, as it is during labor, there is no thought about past or future. This we spontaneously experienced during the classes as a result of our breathing concentration.
By 1988 the pregnant women attending these weekly classes had allowed me to create what I now call the American AquaNatal Program. Back then I called it Aqua yoga, I began to use the name American AquaNatal for the Method in the mid 90's. The word Aquanatale was coined in Europe from aqua meaning water and natale referring to the perinatal period. And I added the word American because this is where it was developed.