Yoga After Birth
We always hear about prenatal yoga, the benefits, the classes, the community, but what happens after you have your baby? Let talk about it!
I'm going to be honest when I tell you I was a little naive about what would be happening with my yoga practice once I gave birth. I knew the rules about waiting 6 weeks and getting your doctors clearance before working out again, but beyond that I was clueless. When I was pregnant I had visions of doing yoga while my baby slept and was planning on joining a mommy and me yoga class. What I didn't know was that my body was nowhere near where my mind thought it was.
“My balance was gone, my core was non-existent and my bladder wasn't keeping anything in.”
My new baby
When I was pregnant, I had envisioned doing yoga while my baby peacefully slept in his bassinet. I was super excited to join a mommy and me baby class and thought I would have so much time to get my stretch back on. My best friend had given birth 6 months before me and was super active in the yoga mama community. She would bring her cute baby to the classes and would get time on her mat a few days a week. So I had just assumed this is what my future would be like. I was wrong, super wrong. Everyone says all babies are different and my darling baby boy had me on my toes right away ( 3.5 weeks early actually). My little guy just wanted to be snuggled all the time, he had major reflux and would only nap and sleep with me. It was hard, and I was tired. I tried for months to get a yoga routine down but he just wouldn't allow it. He wasn't the baby that could be placed on a mat and I could do my asanas around him. He couldn't be put in a swing and be satisfied. He just needed to be in my arms for months. I loved my baby but by the 4 month mark I needed to make sure I was loving myself too. I knew that the mommy and me yoga classes were not an option for me and I had to come up with a new plan. My husband took a solo shift from 7pm-8pm and that is when I was finally able to get back on my mat regularly. It was honestly so hard to get in the zone while I could hear my baby crying basically the whole time I would do yoga. But, I tuned it out eventually and started to work on myself again.
Who's body is this and where did mine go?
Once I was back on my mat I was in for a MAJOR shock. I could not move my body... at all. I know some mamas that popped out their baby and were back to doing headstands as soon as they had their doctors approval. For my body, it just didn't work the way it used to. My very first lunge was pathetic, I basically just fell over in pain. My balance was gone, my core was non-existent and my bladder wasn't keeping anything in. I was a mess and in total transparency, I cried. The only thing that kept me from quitting was the fact that I had been here before. I had to regain all my strength when I had my injury (read about it here), so I knew I could do it again. And I did.
I started small and worked on my pelvic floor first. Little movements turned into longer holds and within time I had not only stopped peeing myself, but I could feel my body getting stronger again. It was actually quite amazing to see how fast the progress was. In a few weeks I went from barely being able to sit down to doing unassisted sit-ups. My core was getting stronger, which helped improve my balance and ultimately improved not only my lunges but every pose. The most important thing for me was actually showing up for myself. Even if that meant laying on my mat for 40 min while I stretched or napped. I was on my mat, alone and carving out time for me. I know how hard it is to be a new mom but please remember to put yourself first for a little bit of time a week. I wish I had done this from the start, because as soon as I did, everything improved.
Postnatal yoga is amazing and I am a huge advocate for it. In prenatal yoga you have this idea of who you will be as a mom and get to enjoy the last few months of being in your peace bubble. Once you have your baby, it's a whole new world. You are tired, sore, emotional and sometimes a little lost. Starting a postnatal yoga program will help you cope with being a new mom. It will allow you to have time to focus on yourself, it will remind you of who you are, and will help your body recover from child birth. If you choose to do your workout at home or join a class, the only thing that will help you get back to yourself is showing up. Carve out the time, even if you have a crier like mine. Namaste.