Wilfred has been with us 4 weeks as of yesterday. We love him with everything that we are, even as we are just still getting to know him. Funny how it can work like that. Whole-hearted risk-everything love without very much certainty about who he even is yet. He is a still a mystery in many ways, but he is ours, as much as anyone can be, and we are all his, that is for sure.
I have wanted to make sure that I take a minute, while I am in it and it is all fresh, to talk about bodies, and movement, and yoga postpartum. And as we are now 4 weeks, there is a start of sorts here. Let me begin with this: I am 41. This is my 3rd baby. My first came when I was 28, my second when I was 31, and if I learned anything from either of those experiences, it is that rest and recovery are paramount and the urgency that I may feel to jump back into activity is so much less important than it seems.
I did not really rest well with either Maple or Eider. And maybe I got away with it a bit because I was younger but I still suffered a prolapse with Maple-that made sex painful for a full 18 months- until I got help in navigating healing. I jumped back into so much before I had any business, and I am unwilling to do that again. There is a lot of compelling information out there on the connection between not resting and postpartum depression, as well as not resting and subsequent miscarriage, and not resting and early menopause. I am not certain that some of that not resting in my own postpartum past may have led to what became a long road to conception with Wilfred.
So, I believe in rest, I believe in recovery, I believe in being a vigilant observer of what my body and mind are telling me about how I need to care for myself and about when I am going beyond my capacity. I am backing off when needed. I am resisting the urge- with some success- at going more when I feel I am up for it. What that has looked like these last 4 weeks is this: bed rest for the first 10 days or so, with the core and pelvic floor restoration and breathing exercises, from Expecting and Empowered’s postpartum guide, practiced once a day. At around 2 week PP I began the walking suggestions also offered in their guide. At 6 weeks, I will begin to follow the 3 weekly workouts that go all of the way to 38 weeks postpartum. I cannot really say enough good things about these guides, for pregnancy and postpartum- but seriously for postpartum. And, hey, you can start the postpartum guide any time in the first 5 years after delivery. So if you think that you may have missed the boat on creating the healing and recovery that you need- maybe not.
But what about yoga? It’s so healing, right? Well… So I thought with the older 2. And perhaps for the breath and the mindfulness. But one thing that we need to remember about any kind of movement is that there are the movements or postures themselves, and then there are the loads. And it is possible that we are putting a load on our body which is doing more harm than good. I think that this has been me at a variety of times throughout the course of my yoga (and movement) life and I would love to prevent/minimize that now as much as I can.
Which means that I will be taking a conservative approach. Quite conservative. Even though I feel tight in ways that I can’t remember ever feeling, I am playing it safe. I am more or less following the instructions given by Geeta Iyengar and more clearly documented by Chris Saudek, in a Pregnancy and Postpartum guide that I have had for about a decade. It goes like this: basic pranayama for the first 4 weeks; at 4 weeks, a few poses can begin to be practiced, with a few more added each week; at 2 months postpartum more are added, and at 3 months all postures can be resumed if there are no complications or special conditions to consider.
The poses for this first week: Vrksasana, Trikonasana, Parsvakonasana, Sarvangasana, and Halasana. However, yesterday I had to go to the DMV and it took quite awhile and it was a bit too much for me and so I started bleeding a little bit again. So no shoulderstand or plow. (Even though I think that most likely the reason that those 2 postures are included is because they are helpful if there is a bit of a prolapse.) I did do the other 3 poses though. 2 times each. It was a grand re-entry to hatha yoga that lasted all of 10 minutes. And I have to admit, there was a part of me that wanted to do more. (just like there is a part of me that wants to start practicing Christina Sell’s asana junkies practices or go to a 26&2 class… but c’mon) Instead I am going to wait and see. I am going to see what happens with a slow and careful re-entry.
If you are interested, I think I’ll share what the postures are each week as they are added in. It’ll help me stay steady. And all of it will help me spend more time where I should, where I rather be anyway. In the time that is short and fleeting. With my babe and not-so-littles while we are all here together, belonging to each other.