Pregnancy is the most incredible journey, but I’ve had 3 kids and I know first-hand how vulnerable women can feel afterwards. The pressure to now suddenly feel happy and ‘complete’, to be the perfect mum, and to have the perfect baby. And added to that, we often put pressure on ourselves to regain our pre-pregnancy figure in the blink of an eye, all the while functioning on little to no sleep.
I remember looking around at other women who had had babies and feeling as though they had everything under control. They seemed to be sleeping, had managed to apply makeup before leaving the house (and they actually made it out of the house before lunchtime!), and, worst of all, they were back in their pre-maternity jeans. Since having our first child 6 years ago, there has been a distinct rise in postnatal exercise classes and it’s easy to see why they are such big business these days.
But learning from my own experience, it’s so easy to throw yourself into the wrong kind of postnatal exercise. First of all, even if the birth goes smoothly (and you don’t feel as though you’ve been hit by a juggernaut), you still have a great deal of healing to do internally. A whole organ (the placenta) has been shed by the uterus, all sides of your core muscles are shot to pieces, and your joints can feel achy and weak for many months because of the hormonal changes taking place.
I remember feeling amazing after giving birth to our second child. So I just got on with things, getting straight back to normal life as though nothing had happened. Walking for over an hour just 2 weeks after the birth seemed like a fantastic way to get back into exercise again… until I almost fainted through blood loss the following morning.
As the weeks progress the options get broader – most postnatal classes are open to anyone from 6 weeks after birth. But it is so easy to get over excited and do too much. Circuit classes may sound brilliant and are a great way to lose weight quickly but honestly, do you really want to be skipping, or doing star jumps just 2 months after birth?! And without careful guidance from an experienced instructor you can really hurt your back if you don’t brace your core before doing any lifting with the upper body, believe me.
It’s so important to start gently, accepting that regaining your strength, and your shape, takes time. Strengthen the core muscles first, before (literally) jumping into anything else.
I am a yoga freak and so I'm obviously biased here, but I’ve tried many other options, to my own cost, and know what I will be recommending to my friends from now on. Added to which, yoga alone has got me back into shape after having 3 children in 4 years, so I guess it must work pretty well on the external stuff too!
Our postnatal yoga classes are suitable from around 6 weeks post vaginal birth or around 8 weeks post caesarian birth. Like all our classes, we tailor what we do to suit the women in that class at that time. We teach you easy practices you can do at home to make getting up or lifting more stable and stronger for you. We teach you how to use your deepest core muscles (pelvic floor and transverse abdominals) to get a work out while pushing the buggy around, so you can use the techniques as part of your usual daily routine. Let's face it, we don't expect you to have time for endless sun salutation sessions outside of class when you are looking after a new baby! Then after just a few short months of regular practice you will see huge improvements in your fitness, strength and overall sense of wellbeing.
Because it isn’t just about your physical recovery. Classes also give you the chance to take some time out and to connect with your baby and with yourself, helping to improve your overall mental and emotional state during the period of adjustment after giving birth. Aside from pregnancy itself, there really couldn't be a better time to develop your yoga practice than in the postnatal period.
So prioritise you and your baby and book in for some postnatal classes today - we will help you find that inner strength and we promise, you won't regret taking a more careful, deeper route to postnatal recovery.
Kate Anderson, LushTums Pregnancy Yoga & Postnatal Yoga teacher, Haywards Heath & Burgess Hill
Kate is a mum of 3 young children who loves music, yoga and being outdoors. She qualified as one of the first LushTums pregnancy and postnatal teachers, and now teaches 6 classes a week in Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill. She is currently studying for her 200 hour yoga teacher training course.
Visit the Lushtums website for information about all our teacher training courses and to find a LushTums class near you.
Posted 11th April 2016 by Becca Thomas- LushTums