Hi! This was me, about eight hours postpartum. I had a normal and relatively swift vaginal water birth at Charleston Birth Place, and my husband and I were thrilled to be able to bring our daughter home so quickly. This was me with no sleep the night before, and I had no appetite.
I had no idea what I was doing. This was our first child. I had wanted to breastfeed so badly, but I didn’t really understand at the time that I was already in trouble. No colostrum had arrived yet, and none would arrive for the next 48 hours. I was bone dry. I was doing a lot of things wrong: I wasn’t putting her to my breast enough; I wasn’t pumping enough; I wasn’t drinking enough or eating the right foods; I wasn’t sleeping; I wasn’t relaxed. I was in the deep end of the pool, barely treading water.
I had practiced yoga for eight years, and I had become a 200-hour certified yoga teacher about two years before she arrived. My training served me well during childbirth, but the postpartum months clouded my vision. I just couldn’t see “my Self” the way that I used to.
This early postpartum story ends with me quitting breastfeeding and giving my daughter formula in a bottle about two weeks after she was born. She was happy as a clam, but I was an absolute wreck. And that continued for about nine months.
This is us now. Whew! Much better, and I am a much happier person. It took me a long time to feel like I had truly bonded with my daughter, even though that bond was already there. This body’s eyes just couldn’t see it. My mission with my advanced yoga teacher training is to make the early postpartum years a little less rocky and a lot more graceful. A yoga practice can do so many wonderful things: the physical practice brings tone, strength and balance to a body that has been stretched beyond belief; the mental and/or spiritual practice can bring an inner sense of calm and peace that is desperately needed as we take on our great responsibilities.
Babies and toddlers are demanding. They need, and deserve, our love, respect and attention. And as mothers, we sometimes feel like we are constantly drained of love, respect and attention because we give…and give…and give all day long. Yoga can bring us back to our true Self, recharge our hearts and bring awareness to our surroundings.