Why Do Yoga During the Post-Natal Period?

Congratulations on the new addition to your family! You and your body worked really hard to get here. 

Now that pregnancy is over, why not return to normal exercise? The simple answer is that your body is not the same as it was before you were pregnant. Our bodies adapt in a wide range of ways to accommodate pregnancy: increases in blood volume, significant hormone changes, organs moving to accommodate the growing baby, etc. Though it seems counterintuitive, the body continues to produce relaxin, which is important during pregnancy to allow the body’s connective tissues to stretch, for up to a year postpartum and it is normal for the body to heal and lose the baby weight slowly. Put simply, this means that many poses, such as plank and chaturanga, feel very different for someone who has given birth in the past year than it feels for other students. 

During Healthy Backs 1 classes, we relax, gently stretch out tight muscles and strengthen our core and pelvic floor muscles in neutral positions. This will help heal the pelvic floor and core muscles to prevent prolonged Diastasis Recti and Pelvic Floor issues (urinary incontinence, prolapse, etc) without exacerbating any existing issues.

Everyone is welcome, whether you are a couple of months postpartum, multiple years postpartum, or are experiencing pelvic floor issues and want to gently help restore functionality to your core and pelvic floor.

Yoga, Birth, Babies Podcast Episode - 12 Taboo Postpartum Truths: What You May Need to Know but Probably Haven't Been Told

Podcast credit to Deb Flashenburg, owner of Prenatal Yoga Center and host of Yoga Birth Babies Podcast. You can find more episodes here: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/deb-flashenberg/yoga-birth-babies

What is Diastasis Recti and How Do I Help Myself?

Put simply, Diastasis Recti is a separation of the Rectus Abdominis – the 6 pack, muscles. Everyone has a small separation between the right and left side of the Rectus Abdominis muscles, but during pregnancy, the separation between the Rectus Abdominis muscles increases to accommodate the growth of baby. Specifically, the Linea Alba, an important sheet of connective tissue important for holding our abdominal organs in place, stretches and becomes more pliable. 

 

Now, knowing that the Linea Alba is softer and more pliable, it makes sense that traditional ab exercises impact the body differently. Specifically, traditional ab exercises rely on the integrity of the Linea Alba to hold the abdominal organs in place against the force of gravity – such as planks, mountain climbers, bird dog, etc. Other traditional ab exercises rely on the Linea Alba to support the abdominal organs during twisting exercises such as bicycles, which exert a shearing force on the Linea Alba diagonally. 

 

To avoid further stretching the Linea Alba during Post-Natal Yoga classes, we employ exercises that strengthen the Transversus Abdominis muscles – our deepest layer of core muscles that wrap around our waist like a corset. But strengthening the Transversus Abdominis muscle group, we lessen the pressure on the Linea Alba, and gently encourage the gap characteristic of Diastasis Recti to lessen.

 

Yoga Birth Babies Podcast Episode - Diastasis, the Pelvic Floor and More with Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS

Podcast credit to Deb Flashenburg, owner of Prenatal Yoga Center and host of Yoga Birth Babies Podcast. You can find more episodes here: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/deb-flashenberg/yoga-birth-babies

How Do I Know I Have Issues With My Pelvic Floor?

Our pelvic floor muscles provide support for our bladder, vagina, uterus and anus. Shaped like a bowl at the botom of our pelvis, these muscles expand and contract to accommodate normal, diaphragmatic breathing and the volume changes in the pelvic organs. 

 

During pregnancy, the force exerted on these muscles increases and during birth, these muscles must stretch to allow the passage of baby. Regardless of whether you birthed vaginally or via cesarean, effort is required to restore functionality to this group of muscles so that we do not suffer from prolapse, incontinence and other issues that make life more difficult.

 

During Post-Natal Yoga classes, we perform pelvic floor awareness, relaxation and strengthening exercises while lifting the hips to avoid exacerbating any existing issues. Over time, this helps restore proper function to our pelvic floor muscles. 

Yoga Birth Babies Podcast Episode - Incontinence, Prolapse and the Core Oh My! A Discussion of These Common Issues

Podcast credit to Deb Flashenburg, owner of Prenatal Yoga Center and host of Yoga Birth Babies Podcast. You can find more episodes here: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/deb-flashenberg/yoga-birth-babies

Postpartum Depression

Though not talked about enough, postpartum depression effects up to 20% of mothers with more women feeling some form of “Baby Blues” anytime between pregnancy and a year after birth according to Postpartum International.

 

Symptoms of postpartum depression span a broad range but include extended periods of sadness, feeling like you never should have become a mother, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby and feeling difficulty bonding with your baby.

 

If you or someone you know is suffering – please seek out help. There is need to suffer when treatment is available – contact the Postpartum International volunteers at the link below or any mental health professional that you trust.

Yoga Birth Babies Podcast Episode - Postpartum Depression with Dr. Michelle Canarick, Ph. D.

Podcast credit to Deb Flashenburg, owner of Prenatal Yoga Center and host of Yoga Birth Babies Podcast. You can find more episodes here: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/deb-flashenberg/yoga-birth-babies