Part two of my analysis of the question "are you pregnant" that has come my way in the last few weeks and has made me really sit down and unpack this statement. Outside of my own wrestling with body image postpartum, these encounters have really stayed with my lately. I felt it was important to sit down with them and really give them my attention to understand why they were brining up such strong feelings for me. Here's part 2 of 3 of that exploration (if you missed part 1, check it out here)...
Over the course of the last several months I have had several students ask me if I'm pregnant. Being a yoga teacher, I'm often "on display" in front of students. I'm moving, sometimes wearing tight yoga clothes and my focus is on teaching not on what my body looks like. That being said I am NOT pregnant, I am two years postpartum and while it comes from a place of curiosity and interest I have several problems with this question. Here is my first issue (part 1 of 3):
Let's face it, pregnancy, no matter how active you are, does a number on your core. Outside of general core weakness from the muscles being stretched out as baby grows, many folks also get some level of diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles that can contribute to additional weakness, pouching of the belly and bigger issues if left untreated. In the face of this it may feel like the best thing to do is to dive right into sit ups as soon as baby is born. Which is absolutely not the right answer. The best answer is doing core work, every day, in slow, incremental movements to help build core without doing any further damage. Here are four exercises you can do (once you've got clearance from your provider) to start rebuilding your core safely.
Okay, so maybe you've had the experience postpartum of having to reorganize your breasts in your bra before leaving the house? I can't tell you how many times I have looked down and found one nipple to be totally off-center in relationship to the other one. It was one of those days. And so I reach in to reorganize and as my fingers hit my nipple and I had a moment of thinking
"Oh my god, what is that? Is that me? Is that my nipple?" In that moment, I physically did not know my own body. It was funny and also a bit unsettling.
Are you returning to your yoga practice postpartum? We recommend waiting till you get clearance from your care provider before returning to your regular fitness routine. And even after you get clearance you may find it takes some time to have that time, energy and drive to get back on your mat. Not to worry, start when you like and know that you have the support of short online postpartum yoga videos that can help support you get back into the swing of things and also do so with the small snippets of time your little one may be allowing you. Ready to go back to your regular yoga class? If you can, find a postpartum yoga class to attend in your area. If you can't, here are some tips for ways to modify your yoga practice to support your body.
I was at the gym the other day with my daughter packing up to go home. I had her sitting facing me while I gathered our things and an older woman walked up. She commented on my daughter's long hair (she has the hair of a 4 year old) and asked how old she was, 11 months. She then started saying "oh I remember when my daughter was that age..." and I braced myself. Anyone else have that happen? Well meaning strange stops to ask you about your kid and then proceeds to give you unsoliticited advice on how to range your kid? Oh just me? Anyway, so I braced myself...
A few weeks ago I was able to get myself to a yoga class. A yoga class, all by myself. Not one at home with my 11 month crawling around me and on me, not a 5 minute practice on her playmat during nap time or after she went to sleep, but an honest to goodness yoga practice at a yoga studio. Don't get me wrong, I've happily been embracing these smaller yoga practices that I squeeze in throughout my days as mamahood has changed immeasurable things in my life, my yoga practice being only a small thing in that long list, but I will say it felt freeing to go practice on my own.
New mamas, have you noticed how sore and tight your neck and shoulders are postpartum? This practice is for you! Hours upon hours of nursing/feeding our babies, rocking and holding and simply carrying them around wreaks havoc on our neck and shoulders. This quick little practice is the perfect daily practice to help unwind some of that tightness and help you manage some of the discomfort you're feeling. The great thing? This practice is also great for your partners too, because guess what? They're doing the same exact thing you are and I'll be they also are experiencing tightness in these areas. So make it a date! Sit down and do this practice together (once you finally get baby down to sleep!).
Have you ever gotten baby to FINALLY fall asleep and you realize you've got your hand, writs or arm in an awkward position? You don't want to move baby so you stay and then notice your hand or arm start to fall asleep. Sound familiar? I know this happened to me a lot especially in those first few months. We find that wrists get sore from holding, nursing, rocking and feeding our babies and then as our little ones get bigger we begin lifting and carrying them in ways that irritate our wrists. Its amazing how sore our wrists can be int he postpartum period. You'll love this 3 minute quick practice to help you address some of these issues and you'll find your wrists feeling better in no time (want more? visit our online yoga videos)!
Let's face it, whether you've had your baby vaginally or via c-section, your pelvic floor will need attention postpartum. The simple fact that baby has been growing inside your belly for 9 months and gradually adding weight, and, therefore more pressure, to the pelvic floor means that pelvic floor muscles will be weak postpartum. Then if you had a vaginal birth with extended pushing or other trauma to the pelvic floor there is even more work to be done. The best thing you can do is start early, and practice often (and see a PT who specializes in pelvic floor!). This practice, once you have gotten clearance from your provider to being exercise, is a great one to add to your daily routine. Best thing? It takes just a few minutes. Need some more quick postpartum practices to add to your routine? Check out our series of online yoga videos!
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.