There is no doubt that being a mother, and caring for a child in hospital is stressful, these feelings are compounded, when your baby is a newborn, and you yourself have just been through the physical ordeal of childbirth. Andrea and Kate from Yoga Mamas have put together this wonderful post, detailing just how the practice of yoga and meditation can help during this time.
Additionally, at the end of the post you will find some links to some wonderful guided meditation and breathing exercises. These are not only useful for new mothers, but also parents and carers in hospital as well as anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious.
The journey to motherhood is a challenging one, in so many respects. Firstly, there are the changes to your body and emotions during pregnancy, then the stress and anxiety that comes with childbirth, followed finally by the arrival of your bundle of joy and another wave of hormones.
Every woman’s experience is different, but one thing is pretty common amongst us and that is that life will change. Whether you’re ready for it and take it head one, or it’s dramatic and knocks you off your feet, it will affect you in some way.
Before even journeying home to settle into your new life, the hospital stay can be a traumatic one for many. Whether it be through complications with the birth or special care needs for the child, there’s no escaping the anxiety that goes with the territory. When you’re already dealing with the healing that needs to happen with your own body, dealing with the added emotional stress can be challenging. The effects of stress are magnified when the body doesn’t get exercise – tension builds in the muscles, breathing remains restricted, and the mind has no rest from thoughts and feelings that feed anxiety. As these first days following birth are focused on rest, you probably won’t have much opportunity or inclination to exercise the body.
Yoga helps to access that inner strength to deal with the added fears, frustrations and stress that challenging times bring. As a mama, these increase tenfold with the added onslaught of hormones racing through the body. Gentle yoga for the body can aid in recovery from pregnancy and birth, whilst breathing and meditation can help to level out emotional stress.
Daily yoga exercises (for both parents) can help to regulate the breath and relax the body by releasing tension from the larger muscle groups, flushing all parts of the body and brain with fresh blood, oxygen and other nutrients. The resulting feeling can be a sense of calm and new energy to face whatever challenges lie ahead.
Studies have shown that meditation can have a powerful affect on the brain and nervous system, engaging our parasympathetic nervous system which allows us to “rest & digest” and calm the body. A regular meditation practice can actually change the structure of the brain and your ability to react to situations.
‘So, when faced with a stressful situation, your first response will not necessarily be jumping to “worst case scenario”. You are better able to judge the situation objectively and from a calm position.’
When you have control of the breath and are mindful of your thoughts, you are also in a better space to cope with the further challenges of a new parent once you return home.
Obviously the earlier you start to engage in yoga and meditation, the more likely you are to be able to tap into these resources when you need them. However, the wonderful thing about yoga is that it is never too late to start. Whether you’ve never stepped on a yoga mat before or been taught to control the breath, or the whole concept of meditation seems overwhelming, even the smallest steps can make a difference to your overall wellbeing. There are so many resources available, all you need to do is reach out.
Yoga Mamas – guiding women through the mamahood journey using yoga as the inspiration. We offer a range of yoga practices, breathing techniques and meditations for you to access. Visit www.yogamamas.com.au for more information.
Kate Payne & Andrea Broadbear
Kate & Andy are Yoga Therapists, pre & postnatal specialists, wellness bloggers and busy mamas. They are the founders of Yoga Mamas, an online yoga community, where they guide mamas and mamas-to-be how to live in the flow of life using yoga as their inspiration. Using a range of easily accessible tools and insights, they’re on a mission to help you create harmonious mind body connection.
A few weeks ago, we blogged about mindfulness, make sure you have a listen to these guided meditation and breathing exercises from Yoga Mamas, perfect mindfulness practice for everyone;