Whether you’re a new mama or this is not your first baby rodeo, the body gets put through a lot of stress during pregnancy. Which is why post-pregnancy care is so important.
While joining a yoga class is great, having a few poses that you can do in the comfort of your own home also comes in handy. The few areas we want to pay attention to is the pelvic floor muscles which is understandably compromised after natural birth, the core area, as well as the lower and upper back and neck muscles. I would advise going for a few postnatal yoga classes a week but if you’re short for time, then practice these six poses at home.
Problem: Weakened pelvic floor
After what it’s been through, it’s not a wonder that your pelvic floor muscles are compromised. It’s not uncommon to have a bit of leakage or urine after a sneeze or chuckle or even a lessened sexual sensation. And yes, it’s very annoying to have that happen. Even more worrying is that a seriously weakened pelvic floor could result in an organ prolapse where an organ ‘drops’ from its normal anatomical position. Try out these poses to strengthen your pelvic floor.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined bound angle)
The inner thighs helps to stabilise your pelvic floor - the more flexible you are, the more you’re able to activate your pelvic muscles more deeply. Breathe deeply into your stomach.
Strengthening your pelvic muscles also means it needs to be flexible. Getting into child’s pose opens up your lower back, clearing space for the pelvic floor to expand and stretch with each breath. In this position it is also great to do some kegel exercises.
Mula Bandha (Root Locks)
Engaging your mula bandha is the basis of all Ashtanga yoga practice and it is great for strengthening your pelvic muscles. Women are advised not to engage the mula bandha during pregnancy but post-pregnancy it is a great way to align your posture, strengthen your core muscles and improve pelvic endurance.
Problem: Soft abdomen / core
After carrying a baby (or more) for nine months, it’s no wonder that your core and abdomen are stretched and weakened. While we may want to jump right into core work, please check with your doctor before doing anything. The usual rest period is four to six weeks for vaginal birth and eight for cesarean birth. Also, be sure to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles beforehand as core work could put too much stress on the pelvic floor causing problems. The key is to start simple and slow, and work your way up.
Navasana (boat pose)
This is a simple way to begin strengthening your core while also building the strained back muscles that have been carrying a baby for nine months. Hold the pose for five breaths, set your legs down and repeat it five times if you can.
Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dolphin plank pose)
Once we’ve built some strength we can move on to a slightly more challenging core workout with the dolphin plank pose. This pose will not only work out your core, but it also works the shoulders and arms while engaging the pelvic muscles.
Problem: Sore shoulders, neck and back
It’s not uncommon to suffer from a sore neck, shoulders and back - especially if you’re bending forward to breast or bottle-feed your baby. You want to work on loosening up this area so that it doesn’t lead to the ‘forward head’ position that can create its own set of problems in the future.
Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) Arms
Instead of getting into the full pose, we’re just going to use the gomukhasana arms to release the shoulder and back. So sit comfortably, so that you may have full use of your arms. This pose will create space in your back and neck. Engage your core to keep your back straight and if you can’t reach your hands, use a strap.
Don’t forget to breathe deeply
As with all yoga asanas, breathe deeply and into your body. Sometimes just sitting and breathing alone can help to clear space so you may be better prepared to embark on this new journey with your little one.