Tessa’s Tips for Postpartum Yogis!

When I became a new mom, all I wanted to do was return immediately to my “old self.” I wanted the old me back while rocking this new role of “Mom.” Heck, even everyone at the hospital seemed to bypass using my real name and just call me “Mom.” I still had a name right?! Hello?!

Let’s face it, the ‘old self’ is something you need to move forward from. Hanging on to your pre-baby image, schedule and life just puts you in a funk. It is in the past and is keeping you from enjoying all the amazing moments RIGHT NOW. Your pre-baby memories are a beautiful time, full late nights with friends, tight jeans, and a bit less baggage under your eyes. But it isn’t who you are today, and that’s OK! Change is good, it is how you grow. Our world is fast and it seems to get harder to maintain all the roles in your life. You must constantly shift around work, family, and if you can find time for it – self-care. But, sometimes self-care even feels like a chore.

What if you put self-care first?

What if you decided today, I am important, and when my tank is full my family benefits, my work is better and damn it, I just feel better!

It is hard being human, and even harder being a new mom….You must take the time to connect back with yourself, your family, other new moms and your community. Without connection we suffer alone. Connection is what we need to be happier, more grounded and frankly…just get through the day sometimes. Read on for 10 must have tips to help get you back on your mat, back into “you,” and finding some happiness!

Ask for help. You are never in this alone. Ask a friend, colleague, or neighbor to stop by and help. Have them hold baby so you can get that much needed and well deserved shower. Ask your spouse or partner to stay with baby while you go to yoga. Hire that postpartum doula to help you survive through the long days and nights. Asking for help is a sign of strength, it shows you that you know what you need. One of the best tips I share with my prenatal yoga students is to make a help bag or basket. Grab a bag or basket and fill it with pieces of paper that have simple ways friends and family can help you once baby arrives. In your sleep deprived state as a new mom it can be exhausting to even tell someone what you may need help with. The help “to-dos” found in your help bag can be as simple as “load dishwasher,” “take out garbage,”  “hold baby while I nap” etc. Keep them basic and easily achievable. When your baby visiting guests arrive and ask what they can do hand them the bag and send them off to help! If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from postpartum depression, immediately seek medical help. You’re not alone, you are enough and you can get help. Speak your truth, you have support and there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Take this quiz to see if you may be suffering from Postpartum depression.   If your answers lead you to think you may be suffering, please seek medical help immediately. For more information on Postpartum Depression.

Put your yoga clothes on and GO! Don’t think, judge or question yourself. Grab your mat, put on clothes (yes, anything) and put one foot in front of the other. Just go. No expectations. You can always ask your spouse, partner or friend to watch the baby while you head out for 60 minutes of much needed self-care. Mom guilt is totally real, but you have to set it aside. If you don’t take care of yourself first you will be depleted and have no energy to share with your family. Even 30 min of yoga can help reset your body and mind and leave you ready for the next few hours in the day.

Feel free to take Savasana (corpse pose/rest) during your entire class. No really, YOU CAN, we will not stop you! At Honest Soul Yoga, we want your practice to be authentically YOU! Yoga is YOUR practice and you do what you know you need most in this moment. Want to attend a class and want to use it as a 60 minute nap time outside of your home? We won’t judge or tell you to do anything else. If you need rest, take it. Do as much or as little as your body and mind can handle in class. Part of self-care is truly listening to what YOU need.

Check out a Mommy+Me class! (BYOB) Bring your own baby. Still not ready to head out of the house solo without baby? Check out a Mommy+Me class! This gets you moving and breathing with baby. No mom guilt there right? Everyone wins! You will connect with other new Moms like yourself going through much of the same new experiences. It will help you deal with baby blues and postpartum depression (yes 2 different things, see tip #2 above!) It will get you out of the house with baby to a safe and welcoming environment. Often Mommy+Me is the first public place Moms and babies go to and the first place they breast or bottle feed in public! ANOTHER WIN! I always encourage my students to change and feed baby in the class and to welcome all the baby sounds. Heck, if you need to scream and cry too go for it! Here are some gentle sequences you can do at home with baby if getting to the studio is not possible.  Get creative, have fun and enjoy some yoga with your little one!

Modify your practice. Even if you are not new to yoga, you may need to modify your practice postpartum. In fact everyone should always modify their practice to fit their personal needs. Move in a way that serves you. Make your practice completely yours. If you’re currently breastfeeding or recovering from a C-section laying on your stomach for locust or bow pose may not feel to good. Try sphinx if breastfeeding instead of locust. Give table top/hands and knees a try for core and back stabilization if recovering from a C-section. Don’t be afraid to make your practice uniquely yours and even take an earlier Savasana if you need the extra rest. Always feel free to take a childs pose and to back off on deep squats and twists if you feel any pulling or pressure anywhere in your body. By modifying your practice you will connect deeper with YOU and encourage others around you to do the same. Be sure to arrive early to class and ask your instructor for modifications before class and let them know what’s going on in your body. Remember you are always your best teacher, always follow your intuition both on and off your mat and most definitely into motherhood!

Postpartum is not just 6-8 weeks after baby arrives. You are ALWAYS postpartum. Acceptance, love and listening to your intuition postpartum will get you through the long days and short years. No matter how old your kiddo is, you are a postpartum Mom. You are a beautiful superwoman with special super hero powers. You grew a life inside of you. You are enough and pretty badass if you ask me. Embrace motherhood, re-learn and love hard on your body, and focus in on YOU. Take the time to check in with yourself daily. Write down your thoughts, no matter how crazy they may seem in a journal or talk to a friend who will listen without judgment. Part of your Postpartum self care is taking the time to process your birth. Many of my postpartum students feel like they “failed” at their birth if it didn’t go as they had planned. A birth plan is super important when preparing for the birth of your baby.  A birth plan is an empowering way to see what is most important to you and how you envision your birth. It is not an exact road map for how your birth will go. Find empowerment in knowing what is most important to you and speaking your voice! This is HUGE. Take the time to go over your birth, feel all that you need to in order to process how it went.

Take the time to connect with your postpartum body. Remember that a newly postpartum Mom still has relaxin in their body. Relaxin is a pregnancy hormone that loosens the cervix and ligaments for birth. It is important that you focus on regaining strength in your muscles to support a more open skeleton in order to bring back stability. Your pelvis is wider now since you had a baby, which is a beautiful thing! That’s how your body prepares for birth. Nature is amazing at helping us prepare for birth, it just sometimes leaves us “hanging” a bit after. So what?! What an awesome opportunity to get that sexy new pair of jeans that actually fit and make you feel fabulous! Donate that old pair and celebrate your new shape. Remember how amazing the process of growing a human truly is. Rock on Mom, you made eyeballs, a heart and a brain, something majorly worth celebrating! Cheers to that.

Seek out a Physical Therapist who specializes in Pelvic Floor health. The pelvic floor is often neglected during pregnancy and postpartum. Even if you had a C-section your pelvic floor played a major role in carrying your baby. The weight of baby on your pelvic floor during pregnancy is substantial regardless of how baby enters the world. You should seek out a PT who specializes in the Pelvic Floor both during pregnancy and postpartum at any point. Don’t wait until baby arrives. This can help you recover from pregnancy and birth easier and lead to a happier more functional pelvic floor for life. If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. You do not need to suffer. Leaking, painful sex, shooting pains and such are not normal, and a PT can help you! I often get asked questions from my Prenatal yoga students in class about shooting pains, diastasis recti (abdominal separation), sciatica and leaking. I always encourage them to seek out a PT. They are always so grateful for the help they receive from an experienced Pelvic Floor specialist. Wondering if you have Pelvic Floor dysfunction? Visit https://www.meganandersonpt.com/single-post/2018/12/17/How-do-I-know-if-I-have-pelvic-floor-dysfunction To find out!

Breathe.  Let your breath guide you both on and off your mat. When your breath stops, something is going on physically or mentally. Pause, listen to it, observe and make a change. If your breath stops while doing core work on your mat, this is your signal to modify. For example, focus on lifting your chest and gaze in crunches to keep the breath flowing. Instead of coming all the way up, elevate the shoulders just off the mat and keep your legs fully extended on the Earth. Try lowering your knees in a plank to ensure a solid breath. You can also use your breath as a tool to keep you present while with baby. Take 3 simple cleansing and clearing breaths before every feeding or diaper change to help you stay grounded and in the moment. Cleansing and clearing breaths are also great during labor. I always encourage my Prenatal students to use this breath during labor to let their partner know that a contraction is starting. Just the simple awareness of one breath can make all the difference during pregnancy, labor, postpartum and beyond.

You got this. You’re not alone, you’re doing great and you are loved. Always remember that being a parent is hard work. Probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. You don’t always know if you are doing the right thing but you are trying your best. Some days your best is barely making it and some days you’re on top of the world. Always remember you are most definitely enough and we are all just trying to make it through life. One day at a time, we try and try again. If today was rough, that is OK, there is always tomorrow to get back up and try again.

Keep on trying Momma, don’t give up. Your HSY Mom tribe and community has your back and is here to catch you when you fall. Much love,  XOXO Tessa.

About our blogger …

Tessa Vinson is a playful, down-to-earth SoCal native and classically trained Marine musician. A beach lover and creative spirit, she loves finding new ways to express herself on the mat and in life. She was drawn to yoga in 2003 while attending music conservatory training in NYC. Practicing yoga regularly helped her balance the city’s hectic energy and find a physical outlet for musical creativity in her daily life. Tessa’s specialty at HSY is pre and post-natal yoga, where she creates a safe, healthy, fun-loving and peaceful environment. She helps expecting and new moms strengthen their bodies, connect with each other, and embrace all stages of life with laughter and empowerment.