It’s time to start rejecting the idea that the ultimate goal after childbirth is to “get our bodies back.” Moms have come out saying they never lost their bodies, but are instead embracing their new mom bods without shame.
After my first baby was born, I noticed my body was softer. It wasn’t just my belly, but up by my breasts, around my ribs. I also had some cushy love handles. This new shape supported the nourishment my body provided to my child. It felt as if I’d gone from a pregnant body to a breastfeeding body. This mindset helped me stop thinking about my body in terms of what it looks like and started thinking about what it does. Just like in pregnancy, where we expect our bodies to change to meet the demands of growing and eventually delivering a child, the postpartum body has another purpose: sustaining life. My body is astounding even in this phase and I learned to appreciate it.
Many moms are anxious to get back into working out. There are a lot of pins on Pinterest and ads on Facebook pushing the message to “lose the baby fat.” This is alright if we keep the right mindset. But, it’s plain old harmful if we lose focus on what our bodies are made to do. If you’re going into a workout routine to maintain a specific shape or – worse – to appease the demands of your partner, you may be losing balance. But if your focus is on keeping your energy up and feeling capable again (and your body has healed from labor) activity can be a wholesome, healthy choice to help your body recover.
My regimen of choice throughout postpartum is yoga. It’s worked for me, it makes me feel good, and it’s easy to ease my body into. Here are my thoughts on doing yoga in the postpartum phase.
After two weeks, use the basics of yoga to help yourself simply feel good.
Even the basic tenets of yoga (e.g., breathing deeply and intentionally) is beneficial for the postpartum body. In the phase between my 2-week mark and my 6-week appointment, I like to just sit and breathe. Deep breathing uses your abdomen to massage your organs and nurture those parts of you that are moving back into place. Deep breathing (the kind that moves your ribs outward) is especially beneficial for cesarean scarring. It massages from the inside and prevents unwanted fusions from forming between tissues. This is huge, and can allow moms to avoid health problems later on, like migraines and back pain. Hallelujah!
When I want to do some deep breathing, I’ll hand the baby off to someone else. This way, I don’t have to be on guard while trying to relax (impossible!). I’ll choose a position that I’m in the mood for (usually savasana, but sometimes it’s sukhasana. Or I’ll place an exercise ball against the wall and lean my back against it with my head resting near the top of the ball. My arms naturally fall back and this opens up my chest. So relaxing!). Then it’s as simple as it sounds: I just breathe in and out in a deep and relaxed way for a few minutes. Usually, that’s enough to loosen up my body and help me feel rejuvenated.
Before doing a physically strenuous yoga routine, get your primary care provider's concurrence at your 6-week postpartum appointment.
Six weeks sounds like a long time to not work out. But your body is actually experiencing a recovery process. You have a plate-sized wound in your uterus where the placenta detached, and the old mantra still holds true: “rest is best” for healing. While you are recovering, choose low-impact activities, according to your own limits, like short walks outside (fresh air being the added benefit) or simple stretching.
After I get the approval from my midwife and I know I’ve healed well, I take to YouTube to seek out Postpartum-specific yoga routines. I find they’re meant to loosen up your body and nurture the recovery phase. They’re usually very simple, but you’ll find it’s more than enough. Find my favorite playlist from Sarah Beth Yoga here.
From there, work your way up!
Once you start feeling really good and you have no hiccups (like recurrent bleeding or exhaustion), up the ante as you see fit! Start doing yoga routines that build strength, muscle, and tone. Find a class at a local studio (this is also a great place to meet other moms!). Research yoga classes and workout groups that are geared towards moms; often, you can work out with your baby in tow! Fit4Mom is a great place to start.
Before you know it, you’ll feel great, your life will start to feel more balanced, and who knows, you may even “get your body back” on accident!
How does Marabou support women?
Moms who used to “lie-in” for forty days now have to pick themselves up within a week to get back to work. Grandmas, sisters and best friends who otherwise would have been there to help a woman transition into motherhood now live too far away and often can’t take time away from their full time job. Household chores and caring for older children fall on the woman who just delivered a new life and whose body needs rest. But we live in a sprawled world and helping hands are plentiful but often too far to be of benefit.
Marabou Services is a unique gift registry which provides services instead of stuff. Most mom’s get too many onesies, too many baby blankets and not enough helping hands. How can you give you daughter living in Japan married to a Navy sailor a helping hand? How can you lend a hand to your best friend who moved to California? How do you ask for help when none of your family lives near you anymore?
With a Marabou gift registry you can ask for any service you know will be of benefit during postpartum recovery.
Postpartum doulas for a first time mom
House cleanings for moms of multiples
Childcare for moms with older children!
Once your registry is created, add it to any other registry or post it to your Facebook and ask that your friends and family contribute to your postpartum service, rather than buying you more stuff.