Yoga is an effective part of your postnatal recovery plan. Not only does it help you to recover from the strain of childbirth, it also assists in balancing hormonal fluctuations, and helps you to become more mentally and emotionally self aware. This helps you be your best self and achieve confidence in your role as a new mom.
Yoga can be practiced almost immediately. Even in a case where your Dr. has advised against doing any form of physical exercise till your 6-week check-up, you can still practice yoga without doing any postures or 'Asanas'. Yoga can be practiced in the form of meditation, breathing and mindfullness. The great thing about yoga is that it is a complete mind, body and spirit system which can be easily be incorporated into your life, without any specific props or equipment, at anytime and at almost anyplace. Even without doing any actual exercise in the beginning, yoga is a highly effective way to get off to a head start in managing to cope with some of the challenges that come with being a new mom.
You can participate in postnatal yoga by either joining a postnatal class that is exclusively for moms, or you can join a mom and baby yoga class. You can also do yoga at home alone or with your baby if getting out of the house is a challenge.
Mom only postnatal yoga class provides new moms with some much needed space and time for themselves. This offers a great opportunity for a family member to help out by spending time, and bonding with baby while you are away.
Mom & baby postnatal yoga classes allow you the opportunity to enjoy the benefit of bonding with baby away from the routine baths, feeds and diaper changes through simple yoga exercises. The exercises you learn are not only fun, they also offer handy tools that you can tuck under your belt to help relieve some of the common challenges that baby's suffer from such as gas, colic, digestive problems, inability to fall asleep peacefully.
Either way you choose to practice yoga, it's always good. Here are a few common challenges that new moms and babies may experience, along with yoga based solutions you can try at home.
Yoga for Mom
Challenge: Weakened Pelvic Floor
The bearing down and pushing during labor can compromise a woman's pelvic floor. It is not uncommon to experience lessened sexual sensation or a urine leakage while sneezing or laughing.
Solution: Kegel Exercises
Kegals help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and correct incontinence. You can sit in a cross-legged position, child’s pose, or lying on your back. Then quickly squeeze and release the muscles that stop the flow of urine. Make the contractions progressively longer: squeeze for five, hold for five, and release for five. Repeat 10 times.
Challenge: Weakened Abdominal Muscles
Along with growing and birthing a baby comes weakened and stretched abdomen muscles. The standard recommendation is to wait four to six weeks after a vaginal birth, and eight weeks after a cesarean birth. It is best to consult with your Dr. It is also important to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles before starting any abdominal work, otherwise there may be too much pressure in the pelvic floor, which could lead to pain and discomfort.
Solution: Pelvic Rocking
The key to maintaining a healthy abdomen after birth is in starting gently and moving slowly. Lie on your back and draw your belly button in toward your spine; exhale and tilt your pelvis up, inhale and tilt your pelvis back. Continue to rock your pelvis back and forth. Repeat 20 times.
Waking up every few hours to tend to your little one can take its toll on your energy levels. Although yoga won’t reduce your sleepless nights, it can give help make fatigue more manageable.
Solution: Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
When you feel exhausted a restorative pose such as Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose helps open the chest, encourages you to take deeper breaths, and aids relaxation and rejuvenation. It also stimulates your immune system, keeping you healthier and stronger. Lay with your right hip against the wall and a pillow under both hips. Then slowly swing your legs up onto the wall, bring your arms out to the sides, and breathe deeply. Hold for two minutes.
Challenge: Aching Neck and Shoulders
Many new moms experience neck and shoulder aches. Regardless of if she is breast or bottle feeding, this is the result of many hours spent bending forward to lift and feed baby. The hunched-over position that comes with feeding can lead to the “forward head” position that may cause other problems such as headaches and back pain.
Solution: Cow Face Pose Arms
While feeding or bending over to lift baby, focus on keeping the shoulders away from the ears and the shoulder blades down the back. For a more active approach, try Cow Face Pose Arms: Bring the right arm overhead and turn the palm inward. Bring the left arm out to the side and parallel to the floor and turn the palm outward. Bring palms together behind the back, using a strap if they don’t touch. Hold for five breaths, release, and repeat to the other side.
Challenge: Loss of Stamina
After giving birth a mom might notice a loss of stamina. Understandably, her body is recovering from birth and she's likely experiencing lack of sleep from caring for her newborn.
Solution: Warrior II Pose
Standing poses like Warrior II build stamina and are easy to incorporate into your day to day routine. New moms like to feel that they are capable and that they are building strength after childbirth. Practicing standing poses help you to feel the strength in your body. Warrior II: with legs four feet apart, turn the right foot in and the left foot out 90 degrees. Bring your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor, as you bend the left knee over the left ankle. Reach out with your arms and hold for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Yoga Poses for Baby
Challenge: Baby Needs Skin to Skin Contact after Birth
In the beginning babies often cry because after birth they are exposed to a big new world outside of the warmth and safety of mom's womb. There is a great deal of space that can feel a little scary for a newborn.
Solution: Warm Hand on Heart Touches
After birth babies really thrive on touch. Touch is communicative and helps baby to bond with his new family and friends. Rest your baby on your thighs facing you with his feet near your belly. Rub your hands together so they are warm. Gaze into your baby's eyes and starting at his heart, caress baby's body down to his feet and hands with a predictable loving touch. Take a few moments to massage his hands and feet, this will help him to relax and stimulate his nervous system.
Challenge: Excessive Crying
Babies cry for a variety of reasons. It's their means of communicating with you. If you’ve tried everything you can to calm your baby but to no avail, yoga offers a simple technique that can calm your baby and provide an opportunity for bonding.
Solution: Ujjayi breathing
Ujjayi breathing happens when you inhale and exhale through your nose audibly with your mouth closed. It sounds a bit like Darth Vadar! Hold your baby close your chest while practicing this breathing technique and the deep, rhythmic sound of your breath soothes your baby. Ujjayi breathing also helps you to remain calm and centered. Try it anytime throughout the day, not only while soothing a crying baby.
Challenge: Upset Stomach/Colic
A baby's little digestive system can be sensitive, and he can often experience uncomfortable digestive problems. Try a yoga posture that will eliminate gas when your baby’s tummy is upset.
Solution: Knees to Chest
Begin by drawing your baby’s knees to chest gently to let any gas bubbles release. Next, bring baby’s knees back to his belly and circle his thighs in a clockwise to follow the flow of digestion several times. You can also try bicycling baby’s legs, alternating bringing one knee in to his belly while lengthening the opposite leg.
All in all Yoga offers many physical emotional and physical benefits for both mom and baby. The postpartum period is a special time where you can honour your body for the miracle she has just created, as well as for the strength you found in giving birth. It really does take you to a new level of self awareness and being as a woman!
Personally, I found childbirth to be the most empowering event of my life. Birth set the stage for me becoming a strong and capable woman who loves and cares for her children with conviction and confidence. Being a mother is not always easy, but I always remind myself of how empowering and magical childbirth was, and that if I can birth a baby then I can do anything!
Of course, after I gave birth I had my challenging moments like every new mother does with her baby. Yoga was my rock and it helped me through many of the ups and downs, and made for some really happy memories as I bonded with my babies through yoga practice. I recommend yoga to any new mom as it will strengthen and empower you on many levels, as well as help you become the best mom you can possibly be.
In conclusion, practicing yoga is a great way to get your strength back, take a bit of time for yourself, bond with your baby and even prepare for the next one! You deserve this time for yourself, and your baby deserves the best from you as a mother. Yoga will help you to achieve all of this and more!
Thank you for reading,
By Ashleigh Stewart
Ashleigh Stewart is the founder of Enlight Fertility where she aspires to help women reach their full creative potential in the areas of fertility, pregnancy and motherhood. Ashleigh specializes in fertility, prenatal, postnatal and kids yoga.
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