After birth our body is like nothing we’ve ever known before. Birth changes us across the entirety of our physical, mental and emotional landscapes. It opens us up wide, leaving us vulnerable and uncertain, as though the pieces of ourselves are all separated and scattered, floating in the air around us, not yet back together. Indeed this coming back together is a process which happens over time, as we bring the pieces of ourselves back together, in a different way, incorporating our babies and our newly emerging Mother Selves and is the subject of my forthcoming book Milestones of Motherhood.
Waves of intense emotion gush through us and we may re-live flashbacks of the intensity of moments of our labour experiences. Alongside all of this we are discovering just how much time, care and attention newborns require, and learning to recognise and meet the near-constant needs of our baby. We have given such a lot through pregnancy, labour and early mothering, and it is so important we recognise this massive physical expenditure and take time to rest, stabilise and replenish ourselves post natally. It can be tempting to rush back to our old busy selves, returning to previous lifestyles and exercise, yet doing too much, too intensely and too soon can cause lasting damage to our ligaments and pelvic floor. Imagine your post natal recovery as a process which takes around 18 months… be gentle with yourself and your pelvic healing, and build your recovery slowly, and from the inside out.
This Post Natal Yoga Healing Breath offers a way of focusing on our bodies and aiding this brining back together process. Post Natal Yoga focuses on stabilising, healing and re-balancing our pelvic organs, bodies and emotions as we bring ourselves together as mothers. This practice offers deep stability, strengthening and healing as we use the breath to draw together the walls of our abdominal muscles, our pelvic floor and the ligaments supporting our pelvis and uterus. The practice uses the breath to stabilise and tone muscles, ensuring our healing begins from the deep muscles within, and is complete, rather than leaving us with toned, yet still separated abs and a weakened pelvic floor at risk of prolapse in years to come which does happen if we rush back to the gym and intense exercise too soon.
The Breathing ~ Post Natal Healing Breath
You can listen to a recording of this practice here.
Sit or lie down so you feel supported and comfortable. It can be especially restful to enjoy lying on your back post pregnancy with your knees slightly bent, supported from underneath by pillows.
Connect to the flow of your breathing. Watch the breath come and go, feel the SPACE which the inhale brings, and the SOFTENING qualities of the exhale. Soften and relax with each exhale, enjoying the peace and space relaxation brings.
Bring your hands onto your lower belly, feel the rhythmic up and down movement of your belly with the breath above your wombspace. Cast your mind back to memories of pregnancy and marvel at the enormity and wonder of this entire process.
The breath works in three stages, and connects to the natural flattening and drawing back of the belly with the exhale. Work on the first stage to begin with, and once you become familiar with this, then add stages two and three which work on the pelvic floor too.
Connect with the feeling of Space with the inhale, and the feeling of flattening back with the exhale.
Let the inhale come naturally, then as you exhale, follow this flattening back of the belly inwards and draw the abdominal wall inwards as though your gently drawing the belly button towards the spine.
Soften with the inhale and let the belly rise and fill with air, continue to draw the abdominal wall back gently with each exhale.
This is very useful for rectifying the abdominal separation that can occur in later pregnancy. If you experienced this, as you draw the belly back, place the hands just above the hips on the side of the belly, with fingers pointing inwards, and as you exhale, gently slide the hands together, easing the sides of the abdomen together.
Take five resting breaths, feeling SPACE with the inhale and enjoying deep relaxations and SOFTENING with the exhale.
Return to the previous breathing, feeling space with the inhale and drawing the belly back towards the spine with the exhale and also draw the walls of the pelvic floor upwards and inwards with the exhale.
Release belly and pelvic floor with the inhale, and continue to draw both upwards and inward with the exhale. Continue for a few breaths, and then take five resting breaths, again enjoying the deep surrender of the exhale.
Return to the practice drawing in both abdomen and pelvic floor on the exhale.
As you inhale, continue drawing inwards and upwards then slowly and fully release and soften with your exhale.
Enjoy two resting breaths, focusing on softening and letting go.
The repeat Stage 3 another few times.
Return to the SPACE SOFTEN breath.
Try to incorporate this practice into your days in the early post natal weeks and months, it really does make such a difference, stabilising the body from the inside out, helping to strengthen and re-balance and prevent additional problems associated with insufficient post natal healing and pelvic floor damage or weakness. It can also be useful as a Women’s Wellness Yoga Therapy tool for working with prolapse and incontinence at time other than the post natal years. As you become familiar with the practice, use it in your day to day life to bring additional support when you’re lifting heavy things such as shopping bags and babies in car seats.
Do take your time to get to know and love your baby and feel your energy stabilising, give yourself permission not to rush to get back on your feet. Be super kind and gentle to yourself in this time of unchartered territory, intensity, overwhelm, joy, anxiety and exhaustion which is the post natal time. You are learning a new job, you will certainly get there and discover your confidence and personal way of doing things, so give yourself the love, space and time to let your beautiful, and as yet undiscovered Mother Self emerge, she’s in there, slowly finding her way, emerging little by little, getting a little stronger each and every time you connect with your baby and listen to what feels right for you within.
My forthcoming book Milestones of Motherhood explores women’s inner learning and transformation through mothering as we learn to love and care for our children, and you can find out more about my Pregnancy Yoga and Birth Preparation classes here.