This page was created in memory of Roseanne Joni Tait who was stillborn on 27 June 2016. You can read more about Roseanne and her amazing Mummy Dawn here. If you have recently experienced pregnancy or baby loss, we hope you will reach out for help by contacting the following organisations for support and using the yoga resources below to practice self-care. We want you to know that you are not alone, and that our Mother Nurture Yoga classes (group or 1:1) are safe spaces for openly discussing loss, if you choose to.
Organisations to contact for Counselling and Support
Postnatal Yoga Practice after Pregnancy Loss
Recovery after pregnancy loss or still birth will take time and lots of radical self-care and rest. There is no such thing as ‘getting back to normal’ here, only getting to know the new woman that stands in your shoes. I acknowledge your grief, your shock and the likelihood that you have low or minimal energy.
If you have have recently been pregnant then your body will have undergone a number of physical adapations that affect you in a multitude of ways including (but not an exhaustive list) – hormonal changes, postural adaptations, ligament softening which affects your physical stability, lymphatic system and digestive system, heightened awareness and emotional changes. In short, pregnancy is a completely transformative process which is why the period just following a pregnancy is so important and is called ‘postnatal’. I have suggested below some yoga practices that are suitable during the immediate postnatal period, or that can be used as a process of ‘postnatal recovery’ at any time after having lost a baby – even if you are coming to this many months or years later the practices are still beneficial.
Three Stages of Mother Nurture Postpartum Yoga:
- Nurture: On all levels, make self-care your first priority – eat well, rest well, enjoy the things you love. Only once you are well-nourished on all levels can you really begin to heal.
- Stability: Pay attention to your body’s craving for stable, symmetrical positions (like lying on your back!) – this will help avoid joint pain, back pain and muscle aches.
- Vitality: the natural consequence of nourishment and stability. It may take some time before you feel truly ‘well’ and full of vital energy. Good food, deep rest, time outdoors and doing things you love all help create feelings of wellbeing.
Below are some sample practices for each stage.
Part 1: Nourishment
On all levels, make self-care your first priority – eat well, rest well, enjoy the things you love. Only once you are well-nourished on all levels can you really begin to heal.
Adopting a supported relaxation pose with the knees bent up (or resting on cushions or a chair) helps to relieve back ache and makes it easier to breathe deeply and efficiently. Even very early on in pregnancy, your postural alignment changes due to the relaxation of your ligaments and adjustment to the growing uterus. It takes time for these things to readjust postnatally and this posture will help. Breathing deeply also gives space, oxygen and a gentle massage to all of the abdominal and pelvic organs.
For Babyloss Awareness Week 2018 I recorded this guided relaxation practice which you can stream online free of charge (please email me if you would like me to send you an mp3)
Part 2: Stability
These practices build on part 1 and can all be done lying down on your back. They involve trying to move the legs, without moving your pelvis. You should feel the firm layer of muscle across the front of your pelvis engaging to keep you stable. As you work with your breath and strengthen this muscle, you will be able to maintain this inner stability while performing more ‘vigorous’ exercises.
Step 1: start with your knees bent up and feet on the floor. Gently pick up one foot, place it down, and then the next. Notice how your pelvis will probably lurch from side to side. Now, press your lower back to the floor and see if you can step the feet without allowing the pelvis to move. Just a few times and then rest. Gradually build up to 20 steps.
Step 2: Once you can easily do step 1 move on to this. Starting in the same base position, extend one leg straight out in front of you. On an exhalation, and holding the pelvis steady, take the straight leg out about six inches to the side and hold it there as you breathe in. With the next exhale bring the leg back to centre and place your foot back down. Repeat on the other side.
Step 3: Now for a lovely feeling of release in your lower back, bend both knees towards your chest and try to make your exhalations long and soft – you could yawn, or sign or shhhhhh.
Part 3: Vitality
Vitality is a natural consequence of nourishment and stability. It may take some time before you feel truly ‘well’ and full of vital energy. Good food, deep rest, time outdoors and doing things you love all help create feelings of wellbeing. Once you have some energy, joining a regular yoga class would be a great way to continue to learn about your self and look after your body.
Raising the arms and opening the chest can be an important practice for strengthening the back and feeling able to stand tall (even when you may feel like crumpling into a heap).
This is a simple practice you can do with a scarf or a yoga belt between your hands.
- Standing or sitting comfortably, hold the scarf/belt at about shoulder width, or slightly wider.
- As you inhale, raise your arms, keeping the scarf/belt taught.
- Hold the position for a full round of breath (exhalation and inhalation), maintaining the open-ness in your chest and abdomen.
- As you exhale, lower the arms,