When I was newly pregnant I found myself worrying all the time. Worrying about baby's development, worrying about what mysterious thing could happen to me during pregnancy and worrying about the birth. I had no idea what I worry I could be, but I sure found out. Between the knowledge I had coming into pregnancy and birth as a prenatal teacher, combined with reading and internet searches, I found worry could be an easy constant companion in my pregnancy. I also found very quickly that I needed a practice to help me navigate that. Below is a practice I used during my pregnancy to help with anxiety and worry (the great thing? we keep having those feelings as parents to so you can continue to use this practice postpartum).
I found myself on my acupuncturist’s table for the first time today in nearly 3 months. My beautiful 4 month old daughter was passed out on the floor while I got a treatment and as soon as I hit the table, I found myself taking a deep breath and thinking “what took me so long.” As a yoga teacher, and advocate to all my mamas of self care postpartum, here I was ignoring my number one rule, “taking care of you is also taking care of baby.” My body needed this time to relax, to unplug and also to heal. I had been neglecting my needs, which was surprising to me, given that I am constantly inviting others to be tuned into their own.
How did I get here?
In my previous post, I talked about how breath can help reduce the stress and anxiety that we experience after baby arrives. In this post, I will talk a little bit further about the underlying energy of anxiety. I will also offer a more specific practice that can help to address stress relief and also anxiety.
Anxiety in the body not only causes the mind to feel scattered but can also lead to issues with sleep and tension in the body, particularly around the neck, shoulders and jaw. For these physical symptoms, I have specific yoga videos that will help you release neck and shoulder tension, but creating a sense of calm and relaxation can be just as important as stretching the body with practices like yoga. And addressing anxiety can help to you also address some of these common issues for postpartum mamas.
Breath is an amazing tool, one that we utilize constantly in our pregnancy yoga practice. Breath not only helps us stay connected to the movement of our bodies, but it also helps us to connect to our potential to relax and release tension in the physical body.
These breath practices can also help to support a softening of the nervous system. When we are stressed or anxious our nervous system is on overdrive, often referred to as fight or flight. When stress hormones in the body rise, the nervous system kicks in and causes a certain changes to take place in response. This fight or flight reaction can make sleep much more difficult, can cause physical body tension and can cause issues around digestion and elimination
Ayurveda is called the sister science of yoga. For health and well-being we often combine the practices of yoga and Ayurveda together. Yoga offers practices for the physical body in terms of movement and breath and Ayurveda offers prescriptions around diet and life habits that we can change to help bring greater overall health to the system.
Ayurvedic practices offer particular support around sleep issues. We often think of the time postpartum as a time where sleep is at a premium because of the regular feeding needs and waking of the baby, but many prenatal students often complain about sleeplessness as well. Here are some easy ways that you can use the practice of Ayurveda to help address your issues with sleep no matter when they arise in your journey of parenthood:
Insomnia is a common experience during pregnancy, particularly as you head into the last trimester. This can be particularly frustrating as there is a lack of sleep on the horizon when your baby arrives and you know that sleep will become a precious commodity. There are many factors that can play a role in insomnia during pregnancy here are some tips for ways that you can help combat insomnia as it arises.
Our birth culture in the United States does an excellent job of preparing moms for childbirth and labor (that is, if you have the time resources and access to the classes that can help guide you). What we don't do a great job of is preparing new moms for the time after baby is born.
I can't tell you how many students have related to me the story of having their baby handed to them at the hospital or at the birthing center and walking out the door thinking:
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.