Yoga: My Saving Grace Since Having A BabyCaroline Fenton
Yoga: my saving grace since having a baby. Six months ago I had my daughter Rebecca. A joyful and curious little creature, it’s fair to say that she now lights up my world! I love spending my days singing, playing peekaboo, walking, baking and socialising with her. Just one look at her smile makes my heart sing. And I’ve discovered a creative side in myself that I thought I’d long ago buried (need a handmade gift card? Make your way over here!).
New Mumhood Life
But it would be totally misleading to say I’m finding it plain sailing. Like most of us, before having Rebecca I’d been told loads of times how much ‘my life would change’ once I’d had her. I’d always nod and smile, finding it a bit patronising if I’m honest, and certainly not knowing what I was letting myself in for…Well I get it now! I get how poor quality sleep can make you feel. Like you’ve got a consistently low level of jet lag. I get how messy life can sometimes feel. You may have been in ‘control’ previously, but you’re now beholden to a little person, who influences everything – even when you can or can’t have a hot cup of coffee. And I get how long it can take to settle into your new (post-baby) body and your new (mother-centred) identity.
Yes, there have been times when I’ve been pretty weepy or frustrated over the last few months, but what’s got me through – other than the support of friends and family – is yoga. I’ve practised yoga for nearly 15 years and taught it for the last 3, and I can honestly say that I’ve only truly appreciated how wonderful it is in the last year.
The Benefits of Yoga
There is loads of evidence about the benefits of yoga for pregnancy, birth and in the postnatal period. With this in mind, I started a pregnancy yoga class as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I could have continued my usual practice (normal classes are fine if you know what you’re doing). But I wanted the chance to meet other women going through the same thing as me. And to do exercises that specifically focused on preparing my body and mind for birth.
I’m so glad I did.
I’m so glad I did. The pregnancy classes helped to release my pelvic floor muscles, which is so important for labour. They kept my back and legs strong so that I didn’t really struggle with back or hip pain. And they helped to keep my mind calm and focused, even when I was juggling pregnancy with a full time job.
Preparing for Birth
Yoga also helped me to prepare so well for birth, as it gave me a set of ‘tools’ that I could use to basically distract myself from the pain. I used breathing techniques to calm my mind. I repeated a mantra in my head (“let go, you can do this”). I sat in yoga positions that I knew would encourage my baby’s arrival. And I used essential oils to create a relaxing environment. My husband later described it as a little ‘yogic zone’ that I was in… and because we do yoga together sometimes, he knew how to respond to me during labour, often just staying quiet and giving my hand a little squeeze.
Since having Rebecca, I’ve kept up my yoga practice. I gave my body 6 weeks after birth to heal (medically recommended), but then started with some gentle exercises that I’ve slowly built up over the weeks. I’ve focused these on re-building my pelvic floor muscles (poses such as Horse and Warrior II are especially good for this).On stretching out my neck, back and shoulders (by practicing poses such as Eagle). And on gaining more energy (through warming poses such as backbends). I have also focused on exercises that are good for the mind, such as breathing techniques and restorative poses.
I began to feel better as soon as I started practising again. It hasn’t always been easy. I practice with Rebecca laid on my mat, and sometimes… well she’s just not in the mood! But even 10-15 minutes can make me feel better, and it’s always a lovely 10-15 minutes that I share with my daughter.
…and sometimes… well she’s just not in the mood…
Sharing The Joy
I’ve enjoyed yoga so much over the last year that I’ve recently set up postnatal yoga classes in Yorkshire (UK) where I live. Every week I get together with 10 ladies and their little ones for an hour of yoga. We stretch, we breathe, we relax, we laugh and we share stories (both funny and teary!). For me, the classes are the perfect reminder of what yoga is all about – finding balance, strength, connection and a sense of purpose. And I’m so excited to see where it leads. I’m starting small with my yoga business, which I’ve called Yoga Mamas, but will be training in hypno birthing later this year. I’ve experienced the benefits of yoga for birth myself and can’t wait to share it with others.
Yoga: my saving grace since having a baby
So if there’s one piece of advice I could give anyone who’s pregnant or recently had a little one, it is to try some yoga. It will make you feel fitter, calmer and healthier. It really has been my saving grace, and I’m sure you won’t regret it…