When my daughter was a colicky newborn, babywearing pretty much saved my sanity. In the early postpartum days, it was really hard to find the time for a yoga practice. Her awake time had a lot of tears (hers and mine), but babywearing helped soothe her. As an added bonus, yoga postures helped keep me more grounded when she was upset.
Here are some of my favorite babywearing yoga poses along with some considerations to take in account since you have a baby on your chest. First, let’s talk about some general guidelines to get you started:
There are a ton of options for carriers from the fabric slings to the more structured carriers with lumbar support. Any will work here.
Make sure you follow manufacturer instructions on infant carrier use, as well as safe sleep practices.
Keep your arms and hands on baby while in motion. (Or for extra cuddles!)
With any balancing postures, keep a hand on the wall or a heavy piece of furniture. You may find your balance is off during the early postpartum period. (Hello, even more body changes!) Plus, the added weight of the baby can mess with your center of gravity.
Okay, this looks a like just standing, but Mountain is a great asana for grounding and feeling strong mentally and physically. I practice with a few tweaks to support your body while carrying.
Stand with feet at a comfortable and stable distance (hip-width is a great starting place).
With the eyes closed, feel your weight balanced between your left and right foot, side to side, and front to back. I like to sway, shift, or even step my feet around until I feel comfortable.
It’s common when the baby is being carried at the front to shift into a hips forward position. So, try to keep ribs over hips without overly tucking the pelvis. You can accomplish this by breathing into the ribs, expanding them 360 degrees as you inhale.
Mountain pose is commonly taught with the uddiyana bandha (holding the belly up and in.) This isn’t inherently wrong for the postpartum person, but if you have pelvic floor symptoms such as pain, pressure, or urinary incontinence, try softening the belly. Allow your deep diaphragmatic breath to support you while keeping the ribs over hips.
You can put your arms and hands to your side, or if you like, hold your baby, sensing their warmth, movement of their breath, feeling their body underneath your hands.
Take a few moments to a few minutes in stillness to ground yourself and connect to you and your baby.
From Mountain pose, place the inner arch of one foot on the ankle or calf of the opposite foot. Another option is to place the toe of the lifted leg on a block for more support.
I found that my balance was very tricky postpartum so this might feel less precarious holding into the wall. Keep in mind that rib over hip position we discussed in Mountain pose as well. Take time here for deep breaths and to notice the subtle movements of the foot, leg, and hip to maintain your balance before switching to the other side.
GODDESS POSE/UTKATA KONASANA
Step your feet wide and sink into a wide squat. With the baby on your chest you could feel the tendency for the chest to sink forward, so stay aware of your rib position. Maintain that full diaphragmatic breath if possible. A great way to know if you are too deep in the pose is if you are holding the breath or feeling jaw tension. Instead of trying to force your face and jaw to relax, go to the depth of the pose that the breath and face will naturally relax on their own.
I enjoyed breathing and moving in this position (5-10 reps). If you are finding any ramping up of pelvic floor symptoms in this position experiment with exhaling when standing up to see if that feels better. (For example, inhale as you squat down, exhale as you stand up.)
This also might be a good time for a shoulder stretch! You can hold the arms in this cactus position while squeezing the shoulder blades together or interlace your fingers behind you.
Lower down to your knees, and step one foot forward. This pose can be a backbending position, but I like to focus on staying upright while babywearing to reduce lumbar spine tension. Keep ribs over hips with the back knee directly underneath the hip for a hip stretch. Staying for 5-10 deep breaths.
While kneeling, extend one leg to the side and slowly lean over to that side for a side stretch. You might even feel a little oblique work here as your body works to stabilize itself. Only go as deep as you can while maintaining your deep breath without pelvic floor symptoms: pain or pressure. Clenching the jaw and holding the breath are other signs that your core may be having a hard time managing the pose. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
SEATED TWIST/ PARIVRITTA SUKHASANA
You may want to use a pillow or bolster underneath the hips if your pelvis has a tendency to tuck under when seated. While sitting cross legged, turn and look over your shoulder allowing one arm to rest behind you and the other on your outer thigh. Hold for 5-10 breaths and switch sides.
Remaining on your pillow, bring the soles of your feet together. If your knees are off the floor, you can put yoga blocks or pillows underneath for support. Another way to make this pose more relaxing is to do it with your back against a wall. Hold here for a 1-5 minutes. (You might be at complete mercy of the baby’s mood at this point.)
Hopefully this helps you add some relaxation and self care to your day. Let me know how it goes. If you have any questions of comments, feel free to leave them below.