When I was a new mom, just a couple of weeks after having my baby, my inner yogi kept bugging me and I really wanted to move, stretch and get back on the mat. My wrists, back and shoulders were so tight and achy from around the clock breastfeeding and holding my new little baby. But even child’s pose was painful because I suffered a pretty severe perineal tear and had lots of stitches. I honestly felt like I was hit by a bus, and I needed help! My pelvic floor was so weak, I would leak urine whenever I laughed or sneezed! I now know that this is a feeling that is common to pretty much all new moms. And I also know that if we don’t create that little bit of time to take care of ourselves, no one else will, and we will eventually burn out, physically and mentally. Yoga always helped me to be a more zen, centered mom, as well as physically strong and pain free mama! So read on for simple tips on how to sneak in some powerful yoga remedies without having to plan to find a babysitter, leave the house and your baby or worry if you’re gonna leak in class.
- During the postpartum period and many months that follow, yoga does not have to mean “going to a yoga class” or having a full hour for a complete practice. You can start slow, even just a couple minutes at a time. That way you can practice yoga every day, even multiple times, without being dependent on someone watching your baby or finding a class that fits your schedule.
- Have your mat easily accessible, maybe you keep it rolled out in the living room, so you have that constant reminder to sneak those few minutes of stretches.
- Whenever your baby falls asleep, put everything on hold, and get on your mat. We give everything to our new baby, and it’s ok to give a little bit back to ourselves. Doulas and midwifes call it “mothering the mother”. Newborn baby sleeps a lot, so let’s take advantage of that! Keep the dishes piling up and laundry overflowing… Put yourself first, and then you’ll be able to tackle everything else with so much more strength, joy and a clear mind.
- Live in yoga leggings and a soft, comfy sports bra that can double as a nursing bra. That way you’re ready for your mini-practice any time your baby naps, and we all know that’s all the time!
- Shoulder stretches and kegels (pelvic floor activation). That’s your gold standard, before even worrying to make it back on the mat for a full class.
- Start seated comfortably on your mat, maybe on a pillow or cushion, inhale, reach your arms up overhead, interlace your hands and flip your palms up. Look up and take a few breaths. Release, interlace your hands behind your lower back, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and open up your chest. Take a few breaths. Release, reach your arms up again, grab your right wrist, and take a side bend to the left. Switch sides. Then get on all fours, tabletop position, and take a few cat/cow spinal extensions. Stretch back into child’s pose and take 10 deep breaths.
- Do kegels while breastfeeding or while driving, especially when you’re stuck in traffic. As you breathe in, tighten your pelvic floor (the same squeezing sensation you would do if your tried to stop the flow of your urine), and gently release as you breathe out. Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions. These will feel really hard at the beginning, and that is so normal! The more you do them, the more strength you will regain in your pelvic floor (and the less urine you will leak).
- Repeat shoulder stretches after each breastfeeding. No exceptions! It will make a world of difference to how your body feels, your posture, and your ability to breastfeed comfortably.