In this post, we take a look at some of the major challenges pregnant women face after childbirth, and how yoga after delivery can help form the basis of a healthy postnatal recovery routine.
The First Steps Into New Motherhood
Childbirth marks the start of a beautiful journey for a woman and her baby. However, there are numerous challenges she may face when beginning life as a new mother. During pregnancy, the body undergoes a myriad of changes, which can affect women, both physiologically as well as psychologically. Appropriate care should be taken to ensure that every new mother is comfortable during postnatal recovery, and to enable a smooth transition into motherhood.
Challenges during postnatal recovery
Pregnancy and childbirth are life-altering experiences, so it’s natural that it may present women with a number of obstacles that they will need to overcome:
- The biggest change during pregnancy is to a woman’s body. Childbirth can have a substantial effect on the muscles in the pelvic floor, and in many cases, weaken them considerably.
- As the uterus begins to shrink back to its normal size, women can sometimes experience pain in the abdominal region.
- Significant hormonal changes can also occur during and also after pregnancy, contributing to symptoms of stress and anxiety. This can result in mood swings and even cases of depression – commonly referred to as “baby blues”.
- The weight loss process during postnatal recovery is also a slow one. Pregnancy leads to an average gain of about 13kg, and losing this can take time, due to changes in metabolism, as well as excess water retention.
Due to the strain that childbirth places on a woman’s body, it may initially be difficult to get back to a vigorous aerobic exercise routine. Yoga after delivery can provide an excellent alternative, and form the foundation of a healthy wellness routine for better postnatal recovery.
Postnatal Yoga Benefits
Yoga after delivery helps with muscular recovery
As we’ve discussed already, pregnancy leads to women’s bodies undergoing a number of changes. Ligaments and joints in the pelvic region can become unstable, and the weight of the fetus places a significant strain on the pelvic floor. Weakened muscles in this region can also lead to a periodic loss of bladder control, which can be a further complication for new mothers to have to deal with.
Overall muscle interaction can also be dramatically altered, which in turn can noticeably impact muscles in the core of the body.
The wide range of postnatal yoga benefits make it an effective form of intervention to guard against these changes. Specific postures focus on exercising key muscles and joints, regaining balance and mobility, and restoring core strength, without placing undue strain on the body. Yoga after delivery to reduce tummy fat, can also have a positive effect effect on abdominal muscles that may have separated during pregnancy, helping to knit them back together, and restoring their usual function.
Post delivery yoga exercises aid weight loss
Yoga after delivery in the Ashtanga style can be especially useful components of a postnatal recovery routine. The style includes energetic postures, synchronized with specific breathing patterns, which contribute to weight loss, also helping to tone and energize the body from head to toe.
Aside from helping to shed excess weight, postpartum yoga also has a strengthening effect on the body as a whole, making it easier for a new mother to deal better with the physical demands of looking after a newborn baby, making it easier to carry and nurse them multiple times during the day.
Aside from the physical benefits, research shows that yoga after delivery can even have an additional positive impact on mental wellness, and help alleviate the symptoms of postpartum depression.
Postpartum yoga improves Blood flow
One of the many benefits of postnatal yoga is the positive effect it can have on the internal systems of the body. Post delivery yoga exercises can have a stimulating and detoxifying effect on the circulatory system, helping to improve the movement of fluids throughout the body. Additionally, it promotes hormonal balance, and studies have shown that it can also enable the repair and regeneration of tissues that may have been weakened or damaged during pregnancy.
Breathwork to boost lung health
Along with the numerous other changes to the body, pregnancy also has a significant impact on the respiratory system. As the baby forms in the uterus, the diaphragm is pushed upwards, and this can reduce lung capacity, due to changes in the upper and lower respiratory tracts. As a result, it’s important for well-regulated breathing exercises to be a major part of any postnatal recovery routine.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a common exercise employed in these routines. It is a technique which exercises both the belly and diaphragm, thanks to the steady expansion and contraction of the lungs. This technique can have a tremendously rehabilitative effect on your inner core unit, and it can also help to realign your organs back to their natural positions post-delivery.
When applied in conjunction with postpartum yoga, these types of exercises can also help to gradually restore your breathing patterns, bringing them back to their normal rhythms, and enhance overall lung health after pregnancy.
Calming the body and mind
While motherhood is undoubtedly a magical and richly rewarding experience for any woman, it can induce feelings of stress and anxiety. These symptoms are largely driven by the hormonal changes in the body, as well as irregular sleep cycles during the first few months of child care.
A solid breathwork routine can play a big role in calming the mind, and inducing a state of calm to help navigate this challenging period. Deep breathing helps to do this, by bringing a sense of stability to the parasympathetic nervous system, whose function is to promote a sense of rest and relaxation within the body.
Women are encouraged to try and practice these breathing exercises in the presence of the baby. They can help foster a calming environment, which helps to deepen the connection between the mother and the infant, particularly in the early days of motherhood, and help them both settle into their new life more easily.
Postnatal recovery is critical to ensure the good health of a new mother. Yoga after delivery should form a big part of any routine, and combined with breathwork, it can ensure a relatively trouble-free transition into motherhood. At Mindhouse, our trainers are keenly aware of the fact that each woman’s needs may vary depending on the type of delivery she has (for instance, regular vs C-section). All the same, it is critical to get thorough guidance from a gynaecologist before starting any sort of postnatal yoga routine, to ensure there are no potential complications.