4 lifestyle habits that will help your postnatal recovery
Your baby (or babies!) has arrived and you're wondering what to do now for your body to support recovery. Maybe you've been told to take it easy, not pick anything too heavy up, and start doing your pelvic floor work...but we know that motherhood is labour intensive. For starters you're carrying around your baby all day, the car seat, lifting them out of cots and from the floor, changing nappies 1000x a day, maybe you have no idea if those pelvic floor exercises are doing anything useful, and that 'just rest' part isn't so simple.
As a pregnancy and postnatal yoga and movement specialist and doula, I've supported many women over the years in their postnatal recovery, each one unique to them, but there are some common tips that help to make moving through postnatal life a little easier on you and your body.
I also offer one to one sessions in my home studio, where we can explore your movement patterns, posture, breathing, strength and mobility limitations, creating a postnatal practise plan together that you can incorporate into your day.
PICKING UP THE CAR SEAT
Something that you do several times a day, lugging your ever growing baby from car to place and back again. This can be taxing on your back and core muscles.
Here is an alternative way to carry the car seat, hooking your hand instead and around one side, holding onto the base side. You can then stand up and rest the car seat towards your hip and slightly back.
HOLDING BABY ON BOTH SIDES
Holding your baby can get incredibly tiring and difficult the heavier they get and the longer you are holding them for. A really simple technique can be to alternate the sides you carry your little one on. We usually end up holding our babies on our dominant side (usually the right) and this can create imbalances in the shoulders and hips. Switching it up when you remember in the day will help to ease back pain, and maintain balance in the body.
EXHALE ON THE EXERTION
You lift your baby up from the floor, out of the car and up out the cot MANY times a day. This is a big movement, especially just after having a baby. One simple technique you can practise is lifting and exhaling as you come up. You might be more comfortable coming into a lunge to lift up from the floor.
Anytime you are doing something strenuous, remembering to exhale on the exertion, which will support the core engaging and support the pelvic floor. We want to avoid 'bearing down' on the pelvic floor during those movements.
We know that having a stacked system (ribs over hips) can support our core functioning. This gets harder during pregnancy, with the weight of baby on the front, and postnatally when you're carrying your baby around all day.
There isn't a 'perfect' posture and by no means does this need to be another thing to stress about or feel we're doing 'wrong'. Simply noticing throughout the day, where you can, what's happening to your position as you hold your baby and maybe trying different holds as they grow to allow you to remain more stacked, can make a big difference.