Great! Congratulations! You carried a real human baby to term, birthed them out in some…
Before having my son I trained in ballet (and every other form of dance) for over 30 years, Pilates for 20 years, and yoga for 17. I was VERY clear on what moves my body needed to stay healthy, balanced, and pain-free. All of that changed postpartum.
While I knew there to be a steep learning curve in my postpartum recovery, it caught me off guard how the new demands on my body changed what it needed to feel normal.
Like all mamas, I spent so much time hunched over my baby — staring at him, feeding him, picking him up, and putting him down. And as someone who’d spent most of my life in a backbend of some kind, this was completely new to me.
I’d be lying to you if I said I 100% took this in stride and seamlessly shifted gears. I didn’t. I had to take time to mourn my old body. It’s appearance, sure, but way more than that, my familiarity with it. I knew that old body like…it was my body! I had NO IDEA how this new body worked.
It was squishy, foreign, and becoming more kyphotic by the second (a kyphotic spine or kyphosis is when your spine rounds forward into a hunched position). And while my old standby stretches still felt amazing (I can never do enough figure 4 stretches or pigeon pose), I needed a different daily practice to be with this body.
To balance this body. To nourish this body. And to move this body with awareness, intention, and love.
So, if you find yourself hunched over all of the time too, and feeling the effects of that bent over (kyphotic) position you’re in most of the time, you’re not alone AND we can do something about that.
Here are my five favorite movement combos to help balance your body from feeding a baby and starting at a baby and tending to a baby All. The. Time.
Important Note: Do the moves that feel good and productive in your body. If something feels painful or wrong or uncomfortable, move on. Try again in a few days. Always speak to your provider if anything doesn’t feel right. And if you had a belly birth, it may take a little longer to feel safe on your belly. Make sure to wait until your incision heals and you’re cleared by your doctor.
Step 1: Standing tall with your feet hip distance apart with your arms by your sides.
Step 2: Inhale and lift your arms to the ceiling.
Step 3: Exhale lower your arms by your sides.
Step 4: Try lifting your arms forward and up (followed by forward and down) and out to the sides and up (and out to the sides and down). This will help lengthen and open your chest and shoulders in different ways.
BONUS MOVE: lift your right arm up and side bend to the left. Come up to the center and lower your arm. Repeat on the other side.
Stand with your back against the wall.
Step 1: Keeping your back and hips against the wall, walk your feet a foot or two away from the wall. As far you need to have the full length of your spine against the wall. From the back of your head to the tip of your tailbone.
Step 2: Breathe here. Feel how your body shifts and what’s touching the wall changes.
Step 3: Reach your arms forward and up, then circle them out to the sides and down. Make the circles whatever size doesn’t change your back on the wall.
BONUS MOVE: tip your chin forward toward your chest and start rolling down through your spine. Peel your spine off the wall bone by bone (or imagine that’s what’s happening). Keep your knees a little bit bent so you’re focusing on stretching your spine and then roll back up. There is no predetermined destination. Roll down however far it feels good. Sometimes just bringing your chin toward your chest is enough!
Stand facing the wall, hands around waist level on the wall, walk your feet back until you are folding in half. (This is sometimes called standing downward dog)
Step 1: Keep your knees bent to prioritize length in your spine.
Step 2: Try doing a baby cat and cow here. Alternate lengthening the front of your body and the back of your body.
Step 3: Keep your spine long, pressing your hands into the wall, lengthen one leg and bend the other a little more. Alternate sides and breathe! Move slowly and with intention between sides. Notice what your body is up to and what it’s telling you.
BONUS MOVE: As you lengthen your right leg, lower your right arm toward the floor and back by your hip, looking at your right hand, continue circling up to the ceiling and back to the wall. Switch sides. It’s like a big, giant freestyle swim stroke. This added stretch through your chest and rotation through your thoracic spine can feel heavenly. And if it doesn’t? Don’t do it!
Tummy Time For All!
Step 1: Simply lying on your stomach helps lengthen your entire front body which has been scrunched for…a while now. If you are lactating and experiencing engorgement, skip to the next one because lying on your boobs is the worst when they’re full.
Step 2: Place your forearms on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders in sphinx pose. Here, sink into your shoulders and then unsink. Repeat forever. JK. 10 times is sufficient.
Step 3: Stay unsunk, think about continuing to lengthen your neck, and look over one shoulder. Rotate to the point that feels productive and good without sinking in your shoulders or shortening your neck. That’s the opposite of what we’re up to! Alternate sides finding more and more space and length each time.
BONUS MOVE: On your forearms, sink into your shoulder and then unsink and stay there. Bend one knee toward its own butt cheek. Repeat three times on each side. THEN! Bend your knee bringing your heel toward the opposite buttcheek. Three times on each side. THEN! Bend your knee bringing your heel to the outside of its own butt cheek. Repeat three times on each side.
Legs Up The Wall
Step 1: Lie down on the floor (that’s right, I said LIE DOWN)
Step 2: Put your legs up the wall. If your hamstrings feel tight, scoot your butt further from the wall. Be in a position where your tailbone comfortably rests on the floor.
BONUS MOVE: Plane your baby on your belly and inhale, lift your baby and exhale slowly lower them down. BONUS 2: Sans baby, close your eyes and open your arms to a T.
These moves are meant to support, nourish, and balance your body. And like any foreign language, start with basics. With time and consistency you will become more and more fluent in this unbelievable mom bod.
Also, share this with your partner, caregiving, anyone you know who is spending a lot of time caring for a baby. Our bodies are getting beat up and there is so much we can do to support ourselves without overtaxing what little energy we have!
Looking for more support around exploring and integrating movement into your mom life? Click here.