5 yoga poses for breastfeeding moms
I took two breastfeeding classes while I was pregnant. I felt prepared. I mean, how hard can it be? It’s a natural thing.
I had no idea ...
That engorgement would make my boobs feel like boulders.
That my nipples would be destroyed.
That the sound of a baby crying would set off a sprinkler system in my breasts.
And that my neck, shoulders and back would be so sore from nursing.
Memphis is a champ at nursing. I took classes, but the truth is he really taught me how to breastfeed. He latched on right away and doesn’t miss a meal.
But one thing I didn’t learn from Memphis or my breastfeeding classes was how to counter the physical demands of nursing. Thank goodness for yoga.
Here are five simple yoga poses that have been heavenly to counter the neck and shoulder pains from breastfeeding. Especially in the early weeks when he was feeding around-the-clock.
1. Thread the needle
From a table top position on all fours, ground into your left palm and lift your right arm high. On an exhale, send your right arm under your left until your right cheek rests on the mat. Reach your left arm foreword and stay here for 3-5 breaths before switching sides.
Sit comfortably. Send your right arm under your left as you bring your palms together (or grab for opposite shoulders as if giving yourself a hug). Then start to lift your palms and arms up in front of your face. Ahhhhh.
Have a seat on your heels. Grab your heels or ankles and draw your chin to your chest, then curl and round your spine, bringing your forehead toward your knees as you rest the crown of your head on the mat. Shift weight foreword into the crown of your head until you feel a fabulous stretch.
Bring your right ear toward your right shoulder. Use your left hand as a gentle weight on top of your head to bring your ear closer to your shoulder (rather than pulling down with force). Hold for a few breaths and switch sides.
Place a bolster or a couple of folded blankets lengthwise on your mat ... or the ground. You don't really need a mat for this one. Then sit in front of whatever prop(s) you're using and recline so that your torso is supported. Relax your shoulders and rest your arms out to the side at about a 45-degree angle with your palms facing up. Your legs can be straight or you can bring the soles of your feet together in a bound angle position as I am doing here for some bonus hip opening. But depending on how postpartum you are, you may want NOTHING to do with hip openers :).
These poses don't have to be done in a yoga studio or even on a yoga mat! Those early weeks are demanding and it's challenging to find spare minutes to yourself. When you have them, use them! Even if I just had 5 minutes to do some of these stretches during the day, it provided some much-needed relief.