By Magdalena Patterson, MA E-RYT 200
Prenatal & Postnatal yoga teacher
Being a new mom is an around the clock job. Between nursing and diaper changing, there is no time to shower let alone find time for a yoga class. Aching shoulders, wrists and back are the most common complaints among breastfeeding mamas. Read on for simple tips on how to sneak in some powerful yoga remedies without having to find a babysitter. Postpartum yoga can be easy. You don’t have to leave the house or your baby. And no worries about leaking breast milk in class!
Is it Too Soon to do Yoga?
A couple of weeks after having my first baby, my inner yogi kept talking to me. I really wanted to move, stretch and get back on the mat. My back and shoulders were tight and achy. But even child’s pose was painful due to a severe perineal tear filled with stitches. My shoulders and wrists were in pain from feeding and holding my baby around the clock. My pelvic floor was so weak I felt like I was hit by a bus. I would leak urine whenever I laughed or sneezed! Everyone I talked to said “wait at least 6 weeks before resuming yoga or exercise.” I wasn’t sure what was safe or what could make my body feel better.
These feelings are very common among new moms. If we don’t carve out a little bit of time to take care of ourselves, no one else will. Without self-care we will eventually burn out both physically and mentally. Yoga helps me to be a more zen, centered person, as well as physically strong and pain free.
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. Start slow with a couple of minutes at a time. That way you can practice yoga every day, even multiple times, without being dependent on someone watching your baby.
Postpartum Yoga Tips For Moms of Newborns
- Have your mat easily accessible. You could keep in rolled out in the living room for a constant reminder to sneak in few minutes of yummy stretches whenever you can.
- When your baby falls asleep get on your mat! We give everything to our new baby. It’s ok to give back to ourselves. Doulas and midwives call it “mothering the mother”. Newborn babies sleep a lot so take advantage of that! Keep the dishes piling up and laundry overflowing. Put yourself first so you can tackle everything else with 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/cow pose and kegels (pelvic floor activation) are your gold standard. No need to focus on making it through a full class yet. Do kegels while breastfeeding or driving in traffic or sitting at a red light. Repeat shoulder stretches after each breastfeeding (no exceptions!) It will make a world of difference in your posture and ability to breastfeed comfortably.
A Simple Postpartum Yoga Routine for Everyday
- Start seated comfortably on your mat 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.
- Interlace your hands behind your low back, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and open up your chest. Take few breaths.
- Reach your arms up and grab your right wrist. Side bend to the left. Switch sides.
- On all fours take 5-10 breaths through cat/cow. 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.