Articles Submit Article

The Minded Institute

New Road, Brading, Sandown PO36 0DT, England, UK

Visit Group Forum

Yoga After Birth: Navigating A Time of Transition

The perinatal period - which refers to pregnancy and the year after giving birth - is a time when intense joy and extreme vulnerability can go hand-in-hand for many women. Steering a course through this period of transition (while under all the pressures that come with new motherhood and physical recovery from birth) is often extremely challenging. Through gentle exercise, mindfulness and breathwork, yoga helps new mothers find a sense of stability and calm - no matter what life throws at them.

Parenthood and finding calm

Having a child is perhaps one of the most momentous events many people will experience, and daily life can change beyond recognition. After the trial of giving birth, women can feel as if they’ve hurtled bewilderingly from hospital and into an intimidating new role, with their own needs and welfare falling fast down the priority list in the process.

Yoga can provide an anchor during this time, and give women space to reconnect with themselves. It’s hard to avoid the fact that, while the safety and wellbeing of expectant mums tend to take precedence during pregnancy, after birth this focus suddenly shifts to the new arrival - but research overwhelmingly suggests that supporting mothers results in better outcomes ( ) for both parent and child.

Perinatal mental health issues are estimated to affect between 10 to 20 per cent of women and many others find themselves struggling, even if this doesn’t develop into a clinical condition. While health visitors, midwives and GPs should be women’s first port of call, yoga can be used as a comprehensive self-care tool and effective complementary therapy to both prevent and manage any stress or sadness after birth.

Yoga for new mothers

Generally, women who give birth vaginally should wait six weeks before introducing a gentle yoga routine in their day, while those who gave birth through caesarean should wait for eight weeks. However, this will vary from person to person - some may be ready for some very gentle poses before, while others will need to wait longer.

Consulting a doctor and seeking the advice of a yoga therapist ( ) who is trained to work within the perinatal period should guide you in the best course of action, and help you use yoga in the most beneficial way possible. If there are physical reasons why you may not be able to practice yoga poses in the weeks and months after birth, mindfulness and breathing exercises - a key aspect of yoga - can be practiced with less caution.

The benefits of yoga, while always useful in everyday life, can be of particular support to new mothers and help them tackle the particular pressures that come with their new role. Some of these benefits include:

Aiding physical recovery

Pregnancy and birth can result in a variety of physical strains and injuries, while parent’s neck, shoulders, back and posture can suffer from breastfeeding, handling a heavy buggy and carrying a baby. Gentle postnatal exercises that utilise breathwork can help women to strengthen their pelvic floor and develop core strength, while relieving muscle strain and improving posture.

Community and group support

It’s not uncommon for women to feel isolated after birth - becoming cut off from the roles outside of motherhood which may have brought them satisfaction and confidence (such as their professional life) and with many practicalities (like lack of sleep and challenging schedules) standing in the way of their social lives. Yoga classes give women a chance to connect with other new mums, share birth stories and focus on their own bodies - something which may have been neglected in the maelstrom of new motherhood.

Identity, mental wellbeing and self care

A simple and immediate benefit is that yoga gives mums “me-time”, giving them the space to pursue something that’s just for them and re-establish their own identity away from the role of “mum”. It’s understandable that parents can find their hobbies and even basic self-care left by the wayside, but making time for their own pursuits helps to ensure parental wellbeing, which ultimately benefits the newborn as well.

Unfortunately, research suggests that one in three ( ) women find their experience of giving birth traumatic. Yoga, which is being increasingly embraced in the treatment of PTSD, can help women come to terms and mentally recover from negative experiences.

Practical support

Yogic breathing exercises and gentle poses all aid in the promotion of deeper relaxation, encouraging the body’s “rest and repair” mode while soothing the nervous system. This is turn improves people’s sleep, and will help parents enjoy deeper sleep in the hours they manage to get it. While having a tiny baby at home is always going to be hard work, with reduced stress and improved sleep, new mothers can find it easier to cope with the demands of motherhood.

Mon, 13 January 20 : 10:01 : Heather .

Visit / Join Group to Reply

    The Minded Institute

    New Road, Brading, Sandown PO36 0DT, England, UK

    Visit Group Forum

    Feedback +