Starting with the obvious. Don’t compare yourself to the most recent airbrushed celeb on the cover of some magazine at the grocery store, in their bikini, with the 6 pack and the 8 hour old baby. Do rest, recover, heal, enjoy your baby and know that you will absolutely get into all of your clothes and lose all of the baby weight in time. (You will learn lots of ways to achieve those things on this blog.) So sit back, relax and get to know this new little human built! The pressure in the American culture to get your “Pre-Baby” body back (there is no such thing) is insane. The physical and emotional medical issues we have in this country far surpass those in ANY other. We have turned creating life into a business. If we were to press pause…. enjoy the process and let our extremely intelligent bodies repair themselves, we wouldn’t need Prozac or Surgery or me. The issue is none of us sit back and relax etc. In most cases the rest is not possible because of obligations. The American culture is not designed to support new Parents. We have jobs, other children, spouses who are also like other children, extended family, etc. We have people counting on us. We have bills to pay, mouths to feed and we just do it! It’s admirable the amount of things a parent accomplishes in one day. But these accomplishments are not without consequences. Here comes the Karma. As a new Mom, if we don’t do our very best to rest and recover there are consequences.
Physical- like maybe you end up with a Prolapse (it’s like a hernia where the bladder, bowel or urethra fall through the pelvic floor and hang in to the vagina). It sounds horrifying and it is- I’ve been there for some of it. That “skin” hanging out of your vagina is actually your bladder. NO ONE wants to hear that shit. So REST!
Emotional- the sleep deprivation in the early stages of motherhood is real. Our government uses sleep deprivation to torture terrorists. Just so we all have some perspective. If we don’t or can’t take the time to catch up on our sleep or we are overworking our bodies in the time when we are not caring for our newborn, it is extremely taxing on the adrenal glands (future blog post on that). This leads to anxiety and depression. And could explain the rates of post partum depression we have in the U.S.
Bottom line- Moving, stretching, even sweating a bit is excellent for all of us and especially a new mom. But we need to be smart. We need to do stretches that will open what needs to open and not reopen the parts of our body that we need to close up and strengthen after having a baby. We need to remember to self-care, to do our best to rest despite all of the daily requirements and to not succumb to the pressures induced by airbrushed magazine covers.
Upavista- The straddle stretch. As the song goes… your thigh bone is connected to your… as is the inner thighs and the pelvic floor. Stretching the inner thighs in this position can tug on the very vulnerable pelvic floor and wreak havoc.
Single pigeon- Same as Upavista- everything is connected. While this can feel like an amazing hip stretch/opener, it can also be a deep inner thigh stretch. Another cause for concern in this posture is the instability of the SI (sacroiliac) Joints. With relaxin (the hormone secreted into the body that relaxes the muscles and ligaments allowing the body to open to facilitate the growth and delivery of the baby) still in high concentration in the system, the joints are more mobile than usual. A posture like this can easily cause those joints to slip out of location and create back pain.
Malasana- the squat. In time Malasana will be an incredible pose for creating strength in the pelvic floor. But think of it like lifting weights- only move into this, AFTER you are healed and things are functioning well again.
Heavy lifting- pretty straight forward. Don’t lift heavy things while the muscles of the pelvic floor are open and over stretched or you’re sort of asking for something to fall out.
Impact- Many women run through their pregnancies and it feels great and appropriate to them to begin running shortly after delivery. I advise against this for all of the reasons listed above. That constant jarring impact when your body isn’t healed or reconnected has consequences.
Supine Gomukasana- I call this a “closed chain” hip opener/stretch. With the 2 legs crossed, the inner thighs are not on stretch and there is no real risk to over-stretching the pelvic floor. Plus it feels delicious!
Supported badakonasana- On your back with the soles of the feet together to stretch the inner thighs. Placing the blocks beneath the outer thighs allows you to safely adjust the amount of stretch the inner thighs get, so that you do not go too deep. You can adjust the height of the blocks and the placement to find the ideal inner thigh opening without it being potentially injurious.
Walk outside– (as long you don’t live in Boston in January like I did for my first.) Pushing your baby in the stroller getting the heart rate up, maybe even a bit of sweat, is great for both of you!
Lie over rolled towel with knees bent- Opening the chest after nursing and carrying your baby is so important for the health of your neck and upper back and this feels so yummy!
All 4’s opposite knee to elbow- This one is a bit more advanced. You will need to keep an eye on your belly when you extend out for the first couple to notice if it puffs out. If it does and you cannot pull the belly in to support the low back, it is best to hold off for a little longer until your body heals and reconnects. This is amazing for strengthening everything, but especially the back body. It will begin to wake up the low abdominals and obliques much more and helps the body pull itself back together. Inhale extend right leg and left arm out long. Exhale pull the elbow to meet the knee beneath as you round the upper back and pull the belly in.