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Breastfeeding can be an extremely rewarding experience with the host of health benefits that it offers for both the mom and the baby. But, nursing your baby can also be a challenging feat, particularly due to the physical stress it puts on the body. Most nursing moms can experience posture issues leading to aching back, shoulders and neck. Understandably most new moms may contemplate doing gentle exercises as a way of observing self-care. One of the options can be yoga! Practising yoga regularly while breastfeeding can prove beneficial in easing the bodily discomfort associated with nursing.
However, any form of exercise should be started only after getting a go-ahead from gynaecologist to assess if birthing injuries like a C-section, episiotomy, etc. are healed. It is also important to ensure that you stay hydrated.
Benefits of Yoga During Breastfeeding
Yoga and breastfeeding can be a valuable possibility for lactating moms. But can you do hot yoga while breastfeeding?- Maybe not the best idea! It is advisable not to overdo things while breastfeeding, lest it negatively impacts the milk supply. Performing yoga during breastfeeding can have the following benefits:
1. Posture Challenges
Nursing moms may spend a considerable time hunched over or in uncomfortable positions while breastfeeding their babies resulting in a backache. Also, the strain of holding the baby’s weight for a long time can further distress the spine and back. Various poses of yoga can be a good remedy for relieving back pain and misalignment possibly caused by breastfeeding.
2. Relief From Body Aches
Due to constant and extended hours of breastfeeding the upper body muscles of nursing moms can become stiff and sore. Yoga stretches can be advantageous for releasing tension in the shoulders and neck muscles and providing respite from pain.
3. Physical Health
Yoga focuses on proper breathing, which may aid in promoting the overall physical health of breastfeeding moms. Similarly, simple yoga poses can be useful in intensifying joint stability and in shaping the body of nursing moms back into balance which may have got affected, owing to pregnancy and breastfeeding.
4. Mental Health
Carrying out yoga even for some time daily while breastfeeding can help in improving the mental health of nursing moms. Sleep deprivation, stress can take a toll on the mental state. Yoga may help calm the mind, alleviate stress and everyday worries, thereby, bringing in the much-needed relaxation when breastfeeding.
5. Cultivate Patience
Caring and nursing for a baby may require a tremendous amount of energy and patience from the breastfeeding moms. Yoga through its slow poses and concentration on each breath may help develop patience in nursing moms and help them to connect well not only to themselves but also to their baby.
Yoga Poses for Breastfeeding Mothers
Some helpful yoga poses for breastfeeding moms can be:
1. Cat-Cow Pose
The Cat-Cow Pose may help in reopening the chest and easing the tension in the spine. It can prove an effective counteract against the usual hunched up position that most breastfeeding moms adopt while nursing.
- Place your body in a way that your hands and knees with your fingertips are pointing to your mat’s top, and knees hip-width apart.
- Begin with the Cow Pose, inhaling and letting your stomach drop towards the floor. Lift your chest and chin upwards with your gaze directed towards the ceiling.
- Broaden your shoulders drawing them away from the ears.
- Moving next to the Cat Pose, exhale and pull your stomach towards your spine at the same time, rounding your back and dropping your head towards the floor.
- Inhale returning into the Cow Pose and exhale while coming back to the Cat Pose.
2. Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog pose provides a complete rejuvenating stretch. This pose helps ease stiffness in the back of the legs and stretches back and shoulders effectively. It also helps with better blood circulation.
- Hold yourself on the floormat, on your hands and knees. Place your hands a little frontward of your shoulders and spread your palms.
- Curl your toes and on exhalation raise your knees away from the floor.
- Keep your knees slightly bent while you straighten your arms to lengthen your torso.
- Straighten out both legs and push against the floor trying to open the chest while you hold yourself in an A position.
3. Sphinx Pose
Sphinx pose helps in strengthening the spine and in reducing lower backache. Hence, a very apt fit for nursing moms. Here’s how to perform this pose:
- Lie face-down on your stomach with your legs stretched behind you, toes flat on the ground and chin resting on the mat.
- Inhaling raise yourself up resting on your forearms which are placed parallel to each other.
- Press your pelvis onto the floor and elevate your head and chest.
4. Bridge Pose
Bridge pose is a restorative posture which helps in corrective alignment of the body. It also helps in correctly stretching chest, spine and neck and also helps strengthen the legs.
- Lay flat on the floor and bend your knees.
- Place your feet firmly on the floor and, exhaling, lift yourself up pressing your feet and arms onto the floor.
- Elevate your tailbone towards the pubis while lifting the buttocks away from the floor.
- Clasp your hands below your body and keep your thighs and feet parallel to form a bridge.
5. Eagle Arms
Eagle arms pose may aid in firming up the shoulder joints and back muscles. It strengthens legs, knees and ankles and works well on the outer thighs as well.
- Sit down with one leg crossed over the other. Extend your arms straight in front of you and cross them over one another.
- Bending your elbows wrap your arms together so that the palms of your hands are pressing together.
- Squeeze gently both your elbows while slowly lifting your arms up and down.
6. Extended Triangle Pose
This yoga pose is the archetypal standing pose among the different styles of yoga. It helps open the groin area and the hamstring muscles. It also supports the lower back
- Stand with your feet apart and both your arms placed at your sides.
- Move your right foot at 90 degrees angle and align your right knee cap’s centre to your right ankle.
- Lift your arms sideways to shoulder-height and exhaling bend to the side so that the right-hand reaches to touch the right foot and your left arm is pointing towards the ceiling to form a triangle.
7. Upward-Facing Dog Pose
This yoga pose helps in consolidating the core and arm muscles. Excellent for strengthening the back, spine, torso and arms.
- Start with lying down on the floor face down and placing your arms beside your body.
- Move your palms at the side of your lowest rib and fold your elbows.
- Inhaling, press your hands against the floor while you gently lift your torso, hips and knees off the ground.
- Slightly tilt your head towards the back and spread your body weight across your palms and top of your feet.
Pranayama breathing or breath control can help ease stress and calm the mind.
- Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position and close your eyes.
- Use your thumb from your right hand to close the right side of your nostril. Deeply inhale through your left nostril.
- Use your ring finger to close your left nostril as you release the right nostril, and repeat the process.
Nursing your baby can be physically demanding, especially during the early days when the baby tends to feed around-the-clock causing numerous health issues. Adopting yoga as a healthy lifestyle can positively influence the health and vitality of breastfeeding moms by helping them feel happier and more relaxed.
Also Read: Benefits of Postpartum Yoga