We all know being a new mom is an around the clock job, and between nursing and diaper changing, you don’t even have time to take a shower, let alone find time to sneak in a yoga class. Aching shoulders, wrists and back are the most common complaints among new, breastfeeding mamas, so read on for simple tips on how to sneak in some powerful yoga remedies without having to plan/ find babysitter, leave the house or your baby and worrying if you’re gonna leak breastmilk in class:-).
When I was a new mom, just 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 back and shoulders were so tight and achy. But even child’s pose was painful because I suffered a pretty severe perineal tear and had lots of stitches. Not to mention my shoulders and wrists were in so much pain from feeding and holding my new little baby around the clock. I honestly felt like I was hit by a bus, and my pelvic floor so weak, I would leak urine whenever I laughed or sneezed:-). Everywhere I looked said “wait at least 6 weeks before resuming yoga or exercise” so I wasn’t even sure what is OK to do that would make my body feel better.
I now know that this is a feeling 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 person, as well as physically strong and pain free mama!
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 couple minutes at a time. That way you can practice yoga every day, even multiple times, and not being dependent on someone watching your baby.
Here’s few yoga tips that any new mom can follow, even in those first 6 weeks postpartum:
Have your mat easily accessible, maybe you keep in rolled out in the living room, so you have that constant reminder to sneak in few minutes of yummy stretches whenever you can.
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 determination.
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 yoga practice any time your baby naps.
Shoulder stretches, gentle cat and cow pose and kegels (pelvic floor activation) is your gold standard, before even worrying to make it back on the mat for a full class.
Do kegels while breastfeeding or while driving, especially when your are stuck in traffic or sitting at a red light.
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.
Try to repeat this simple 5 minute routine every day: 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 few breaths. Release, interlace your hands behind your low back, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and open up your chest. Take 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 few cat/ cow spinal extensions. Stretch back into child’s pose and take 10 deep breaths.
If you are ready for longer yoga practice, check out my gentle postnatal flow video: