My first pregnancy was a wonderful experience. In fact, I was one of those annoying pregnant women that gushed about how great I felt.
My skin glowed, I experienced almost no negative pregnancy symptoms, and I had tons of energy.
I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl and was overjoyed to be a new mother.
Then, when my daughter was only 4 months old, I found myself staring – in disbelief – at another positive pregnancy test.
We were shocked for many reasons (not the least of which was that our first baby followed years of trying to conceive).
My body had hardly recovered, and now I was carrying again.
Back and Round Ligament Pain
If I thought that my first pregnancy would be a good indicator of how this second one would go, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My OB mentioned that since my body had not had much time to recover from my first delivery, I might experience more pain. She was right.
This time around, I was flat out exhausted and experienced what seemed like every symptom in the book.
The worst of it was back pain, which made a lot of movement difficult. I remember lying in bed at 3 am, contemplating which was worse – the discomfort of my very full and tiny bladder, or the pain of rolling over and trying to climb out of bed.
I also dealt with lots of round ligament pain, which would cause sudden sharp pains in my hips, abdomen or groin. I cried one time trying to get up from my chair at work.
These can all be common symptoms for pregnant women, so I tried my best to just push on with the hope that all would resolve after delivery.
Postpartum Pain and How It Wasn’t Going Away
After I delivered my second child, a sweet baby boy, I couldn’t wait to get my body back to normal. Not just so that my clothes would fit again, but really for my body to stop being so sore.
But, as time passed – weeks, then months – it seemed so many of the aches and pains just weren’t going away.
I chalked it up to being a tired new parent to two babies. I always had a child in my arms or strapped to the front of me in a baby wrap.
The back and hip pain were actually the worst from about 3 am until the time I got up in the morning.
I had to slowly get out of bed to avoid my back catching.
Trying to pick up one of the babies first thing was so difficult, and basically unavoidable with a newborn.
I considered going to a chiropractor or physical therapist as my OB had suggested, but my stubborn streak insisted that I didn’t have time.
I hated having to arrange child care, as my mother-in-law already watched the kids on days that I worked part-time.
I felt guilty asking her for more babysitting.
And, being the budget manager in our household, I balked at spending money on “self-care,” even if it was a legitimate medical expense.
Mom guilt is so real, y’all.
How Yoga Helped
I wanted to find a solution that was free and wouldn’t take time away from my kids.
In my former childless days, I belonged to a yoga studio. I had always loved the way yoga made me feel – strong, centered, and invigorated.
I thought about joining the studio again, but didn’t want the price tag and the drive.
Then, my husband suggested I try yoga at home. YouTube has a treasury of free workout videos, so I could practice in the living room while the kids were asleep.
Evenings were hard – I was always exhausted by the time we put the kids to bed, washed dishes, and picked up the tornado of toys.
Instead, my husband encouraged me to try mornings. I would get up 30 minutes before the kids, and he promised he would even wake up with me.
I snoozed the 5:30 alarm twice that first morning, but dragged myself out of bed with the promise of coffee.
My husband joined me as I browsed YouTube.
We found a yoga account that looked promising, and started a 20 minute video.
My knees cracked just trying to settle into a seated position. Upward-Facing Dog pinched a nerve in my back.
I had to fall into Child’s Pose several times.
I was discouraged at how much it hurt my body just to stretch, and afterward I still felt sore and stiff
But that night, I noticed a difference. For the first time in a long time, I slept without tossing and turning and back pain. The morning alarm actually startled me because I was sleeping so soundly.
My hips still ached, but not as much. I climbed out of bed ready to go back to the mat and try again.
As the days passed, my yoga practice came back to me naturally.
I flowed through the vinyasa with less cracking and popping. My sleep improved at night, and my mood improved in the mornings with the kids.
I especially loved to do “Cat and Cow” first thing in the morning to help stretch out my lower back.
It helped ease any tightness that might build up overnight.
My body began to feel better during the day, too. It was easier to be in full mom-mode, without the constant distraction of aches and pains.
On days that I skipped yoga, I noticed a huge difference, especially if I skipped a few days in a row.
I didn’t realize what a gift my healthy body was until it was hurting.
Yoga emphasizes mindfulness and I was aware more than ever how lucky I was to feel healing.
Healing and Gratitude
Every woman’s body is different, and yoga is not a magic solution that will work for everyone.
But I do believe that it can help us to feel stronger, and can be used at least as one tool in our arsenal.
If you are dealing with any type of postpartum pain, I encourage you not only to talk to your doctor, but also to find a good community of other moms (even an online community).
This can provide such a wealth of information when looking for answers.
Most importantly, don’t give up – find what will work for you!
You don’t have to accept that your body will always ache just because you are a mom.
There are solutions. Yoga was mine, and may be yours, too.
These days, with the help of yoga, I’m practising mindful gratitude everywhere. I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful for my wonderful children and family.
I’m also grateful for the internet and its plethora of free yoga.
I will be the first to admit that practising in my living room is not the same experience as going to a studio.
But for this season of life, when time and resources are stretched, it fills a precious need.
For that, I am so, so grateful.