Regression is largely unknown to women before they give birth to their first child. It was the same for me. Anatomical aha moments came in the first lessons. Even years after the birth, my abdominal muscles and my pelvic floor are stronger than ever, a big plus for any other physical activity and everyday life with a child.
Before I became pregnant, “postnatal yoga” was just a term I saw on the yoga studio schedule. I had never, ever thought about what the pregnancy and birth via cesarean section would do to my then 37-year-old body. I know that there are also women who enjoy being pregnant and feel extremely fit and healthy. That’s very nice, but for me it wasn’t that funny. Regardless of how a woman felt during this time, recovery after natural birth or cesarean section is a must for the body – and that’s why.
Your body after 9 months of pregnancy and birth
After pregnancy and childbirth, women experience the following symptoms (or some of them):
- The abdominal muscles and pelvic floor are generally weak and overstretched
- The rectus abdominal muscles are separated from each other in the middle
- Incontinence due to weak pelvic floor
- Pelvic floor is damaged after perineal tear or incision
- Loss of vaginal tone
- Joints are loose and painful
- Fatigue and changeable emotions
- Anxiety to depression
- Weak arches, knees and legs
- Pain in the back, shoulders and neck
- Curved posture of the spine
- Hollow back (lumbar spine)
- Wound healing takes time (caesarean section scar)
“I’ve been doing yoga for years!“
As a rule, you start the postnatal exercises six weeks after the birth of the baby (eight after the cesarean section). Your gynecologist or postpartum midwife will usually tell you when the right time is for regression based on the palpation of your stomach. The postnatal yoga class is specifically aimed at the changes in the body listed above. Even if you already practice yoga, you will not be familiar with this type of exercise with a focus on regression, even if the “asana” (postures) are the same or variations thereof. In any case, you will be able to integrate the newfound focus on the pelvic floor, abdominal muscles and breathing into your familiar yoga practice and benefit from it. It may be that after the recovery you will be able to feel even deeper into your body and breathe even better. Look forward to it!
What happens in yoga for regression?
This is what happens in the body:
- You build strength in your abdominal, pelvic floor and back muscles
- Important: The groove between the abdominal muscles must be closed again
- The spine stretches and straightens again
- You counteract stiffness, hardening and dullness and promote your mobility
- You relieve the pressure in your shoulders and back, which are often increased by carrying a baby
- You breathe deeply to regenerate and reduce stress (e.g. from not sleeping much, or many other pitfalls of everyday mommy life)
Breathing is the big word when preparing for birth, breathing continues during postnatal recovery – and actually ideally throughout your life. Here you can see the positive effects of deep breathing:
- Blood circulation is stimulated (healing effect)
- Relaxation of the nervous system
- The body detoxifies better through exercise and breathing
- You influence the hormonal balance
- Cell renewal is accelerated
When can I stop the regression?
- When you can stop recovering depends on your body. It’s best to ask your postnatal teacher when you’ll be ready for classic yoga classes or other types of exercise and sport again. You can also do certain sports during the recovery phase, provided you have the strength and time for it. In any case, you should conserve your energy in the first few months after giving birth and be gentle with yourself and your body.
- Actually never. As soon as you feel your pelvic floor better again, or have just gotten to know it properly, you can keep the focus on it in everyday life and during sports forever. Because this gives you stability, strength and inner uprightness – and you can draw on this well into old age, especially as a mother.