SELF CARE CHECKLIST FOR MAMAS

Prioritising self care is hard. the reality is, most mamas, feel there is no time, they always have a million and one things to do and are juggling so many roles in any given day, there head is often spinning.

Now, more than ever, the way are world is, the multifaceted nature of things and the constant virtual and visual connectivity, means it’s really hard to not do stuff, to prioritise yourself, to slow down and meet your own, self care needs. So I hear you, I relate whole heartedly and I acknowledge all you do as a mama. There is no denying that the energetic expenditure thats required to care and nurture a new born, a baby, or a toddler is immense.

Our culture is obsessed with doing and productivity so when you are catapulted into the world of motherhood, it can feel like a virtual impossibility to do the exact opposite. To gravitate away from ‘doing’ and that which we are praised and validated for in the world of work, and daily living.

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As mamas and especially in the first 40 days post birth we need to slow down. We actually need to try and do less, yet I know the reality of this is really hard. I struggle with it as a mama of two, its hard to do less. But acknowledging the need is the start, then creating easy ways to achieve it.

So thats where I come in, or rather I want to share my own daily self care checklist which I made for myself as a mama of two. Which I try to uphold to ensure I feel good, I feel nourished and loved first and foremost by myself. I recognise that then I have the energy to love and nurture others.

 

MAMA DAILY SELF CARE CHECKLIST

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HYDRATE

The body is roughly 75% water. Most of our imbalances in the body are a result of dehydration.
In pregnancy and especially in the post natal period hydration is vital.
Post birth Onward and particularly if breast feeding, keeping fluid intake up is key to supporting the body through the dynamic changes which are happening.
Water is part of the 5 element theory in Chinese medicine and mainly corresponds to the kidney organ system. In essence your kidneys are responsible@for cellular hydration - the movement of water to and from your cells..


Post natally this is key as without sufficient hydration the body struggles to process toxins, can lead to inflammation, hormonal imbalance, headaches, fatigue, and other health imbalances.
Most notably the kidney system, specifically the adrenals are in short responsible for handling stress. The adrenals produce excessive amounts of hormones when we are stressed. In short stress can lead to dehydration. So many factors which will impact women in the post natal period.

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Tips to stay hydrated:


1. Drink first thing ideally 30mins before food to ensure complete hydration. Water before food also helps to hydrate your stomach lining supporting production of digestive enzymes & absorption of nutrients from your food. 
2. Small sips - too much in 1 go can effectively shock and therefore ‘dilute’ your kidney system. A larger amount slipped slowly in the morning and then small amounts through the day.
3. Manage your stress levels: Meditation, yin activity, acupuncture all help to calm and support healthy kidney function. 
4. Support kidney health: Ashwagandha helps to decrease the overstimulation of the adrenals and stress hormones. Checkout my favorite mama’s smoothie recipe here, and read more about my 3 favourite superfood supplements for mama’s to support hormonal balance, boost energy and promote restful sleep.
5. Juicy fruit: Fresh fruit contains a variety of minerals and electrolytes that support cellular hydration..

Ensure you drink enough fluid, herbal teas, hot water & lemon, water - daily recommendation varies but in the post natal period aim for 8 glasses of water. In winter and the early post natal period - warm is better .

 

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MOVE

For a woman and a mama movement is essential...self care is an absolute must. I increasingly observe & witness that mamas NEED this particularly in the later months and years after babies not just in that immediate 4 trimester period.

After having babies, whether it’s in the months after or years after, yoga can be such an amazing practice. But the key factor here is, it’s not just any old ‘yoga’. As a mama it requires you to start a line of dialogue with yourself, an act of conscious and loving self inquiry...and this inquiry needs to move from a deep cellular place, from the inside out... 

As a woman it requires us to listen very acutely to what are inner landscape is describing to us. It requires that we tune in and respond to those needs that we speak back to our body with the language it understands, and that is the breath..

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It is that beautifully simple and uniquely profound. It mirrors all the things we ultimately need in pregnancy and all the things that will guide us gently and consciously in birth.

For the post natal body the focus may need to revolve around helping to restore integrity and elestacity to your pelvic floor. Poses to lengthen the spine and relieve upper and lower back ache. Breathwork and mindful movement that will restore balance and calm both the nervous system and the mind which can often be in a state of flight due to the multi complex demands of motherhood...

So find something that resonates with you. Find a teacher who speaks your language and invest some time in your own self-care so you have the physical, emotional and spiritual vitality to share that love.

If you want to do some home practice, check out my tips for safe post birth practice here, and look out for my nurture and stabilise sequences which will be on the blog soon. 

 

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NOURISH

Food is like natural medicine for the body. It can heal and restore you to your truest and most vital self. The process of growing and birthing a baby uses up an immense amount of energy, and in particular yin energy due to the natural blood loss during the birth process. We need serious nourishing to enable our body to restore.

Healing Foods - Soft, soupy foods are favoured around the world to honour and support the body during the post-partum period (post birth), when there is illness, injury or trauma. A new mother needs warm, soft foods and certain herbs to support a digestive system which is slower post birth, to promote internal healing and cell tissue repair in the body and for mental and emotional well being.

Putting nutrition first, making space and asking loved ones to help in creating and stocking your freezer with homemade, healthy, soul food, helps to support internal healing, cell tissue repair in the body and promotes mental and emotional well being. The right food, spices and herbs will help boost metabolism, enrich breastmilk for healthy brain development, stoke your digestive fire, helping to stimulate circulation, blood flow and therefore energy and vitality. Ensuring this approach to food will also help to promote more restful sleep when you do get it… and that is music to any parent’s ears.

 To nourish and restore in the first 40 days post birth but equally whenever you are feeling low in energy, ill or depleted as a mama, you need:

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WARMING FOODS – Eating a diet of Warming, soft foods and avoiding or limiting cold, uncooked foods will help to support healing. cold foods shock an already sluggish digestive system and use up vital energy to warm the body. Eating warm foods takes less energy to digest and absorb nutrients, it heats your body, meaning more of the bodies energy is available for healing and restoring.

Try to incorporate warming spices; ginger, fennel, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon. Herbal teas are also great and Golden Tumeric Tea is an absolute must!

 

SOFT FOODS – around the world traditionally post birth foods are soft, soupy and warm. Think like baby food. Birth is an immense physical, emotional and energetic feat. Added to that your digestive organs have been compressed for the latter part of your pregnancy and so are slower and weaker post birth. Soft foods ensure the body isn’t expending its depleted energy to stoke a sluggish digestive system and boost metabolism. 

Try: Soups, stews, broths (bone broth or mushroom broth), cooked grains.

 

FRIENDLY FATS: Fish oils, animal and plant fats are essential in the post natal period to help you thrive amd are essential for supporting the development of your babies nervous system. This will give you energy to restore and boost circulation and metabolism and balance hormones so all round helping you to stay healthy in body and mind.

Think: oily fish, avocados, cocnut, olive and seaseme oil, grass raised meat and butter.

 

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REST

We need to prioritise rest as mamas not just in the immediate post birth period. Birth can leave a woman feeling highly susceptible to emotional and physical strain. Your body is doing immense work post birth. To conserve and build chi in the body (vital energy), rest and nourishment is essential.

I sort of feel like no explanation is needed here....But then in the same sentence know that it is. Rest is sadly overlooked in our society yet around the world this is common practice. A mama is supported in all ways so she can rest post birth and find a sense of equilibrium in body, mind and spirit after the hugely transformative and intense act of birthing a baby. Rest and replenish so that she can use what energy she does have to nurture and fall in love with her baby..

Many cultures still respect the sanctity of birth the monumental shift that is occurring not just physically but spiritually, emotionally and mentally - in both ayuverdic and Chinese medicine this time in a woman’s life is considered crucial in ensuring her long term health.

The first 40 days post birth is so highly significant in determining a woman’s health in the future. Equally rest is needed after that fourth trimester. This is were for many women it can get even tricker. As they take on more, return to work or have more children. This is when we need it most.


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In a busy world this is where that gloriously simple but arguably most challenging posture in yoga can be a mamas greatest friend.. shavasana - seen by some as a ‘nap’ at the end of class, challenges us to be awake and completely relaxed which may for some be both unfamiliar and difficult to achieve. But this pose has insane health benefits when practiced regularly; calms the nervous system, relieves high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia and helps release muscle tension... hallelujah what is not to love.

We now also know that your brain is actually growing during the post natal phase. Scientific research is showing that certain regions of the brain are expanding, now with those skin cells repairing and the liver detoxifying, your body needs rest to achieve this.

So 10 min shavasana nap anyone?



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CONNECT

MOTHERS NEED MOTHERING.

We need love, hugs and physical support as humans and particularly mamas during the immense period of change which happens post birth. I think this is apparent now more than ever. We are so richly connected virtually but this is not a substitute for real time interaction and connection.

A hug speaks volumes to our soul and our spirit... it feels good, it helps reduce cortisol levels aka stress in the body. it helps cultivate a sense of patience, acknowledgement and acceptance of others and of ourselves. It fosters a deeper connection with our mind and our body building our self awareness and proprioception.

Oxytocin, the hormone of love, is induced in the body when we have a meaningful and loving connection.  Widely known in the birth world and growing interest in a wider context, Its a juicy topic right now. With scientific studies from ethology (study of behaviour) to epidemiology (studying the long term consequences of experiences at the start of our lives), showing just how important this hormone is.

This hormone is indeed what impacts most influentially in maternal behaviour and emotions. Released with a cocktail of complexly balanced hormones, it fortifies bonds between loved ones and is powerful enough to do the same with total strangers.

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Personal connection and loving touch from a massage is a great way to assist recovery, promote vitality and boost circulation. Belly wrapping and ‘closing the bones’ a ceremony in Mexican tradition includes for the mama; massage, herbal steaming and binding, intricately wrapping the body to support the tremendous post natal changes.

As women and mamas we need the presence and companionship of a soulful sisterhood, a tribe of women of different stages of life who can share their wisdom and experience, comfort, encourage and listen to a new mama. And I mean really listen, without need to impose.

Your heart and your nerves are highly sensitive as a mother and we need to presence of other women to support our emotional state.

So connect, have a hug, a chat and a giggle with someone.



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GET OUTDOORS

Getting outdoors, in nature and breathing in fresh air is like therapy for body, mind and soul. For a new mama getting outdoors isn’t always a reality or physically possible. But having a connection with nature is, the power of simply opening a window, closing your eyes and deeply inhaling to smell some fresh flowers, bringing a little outdoor into your home with house plants, or choosing a comfortable feeding spot by a window with a view.

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This simple acts all help us to connect to that slower pace, to honour the awesome wisdom we can learn from the natural world around us. Our connection with nature helps us to cultivate self acceptance, patience and love at its essence as we observe that in nature no process of development and growth can be rushed, it takes its own time. As mothers we need to adopt that same loving kindness to ourselves. Taking a bath with herbal salts or turning off your phone and taking a walk or seat outside. We draw a deeper breath when we are in the open air, which acts to calm the nervous system, the mind, slows our heart rate, and reduces levels of cortisol in the blood therefore relieving stress. This not only feels good, it also helps to cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves, our bodies and babies and our natural environment.

So be good to yourself mama, prioritise your own self-care by honouring your basic needs.

 


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LOVING THE MAMA SELF CARE DECK

Im really excited to share a project Ive been working on and which is available to purchase on the website. This project was birthed out of love for the mamas, a need to ensure my own self care and health as a new mama of two. Check out my instagram feed for a sneak peek and get in touch if you would like to order your very own pack.


Want more?

If you want to know more I would highly recommed these amazing books books: 

The first forty days The essential art of nourishing the new mother – by Heng Ou

The Fourth Trimester: A post partum guide to healing your body, balancing your emotions & restoring vitality – By Kimberley Johnso

THE POWER OF YOGA POST BIRTH - A GUIDE FOR SAFE PRACTICE

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” 

Maya Angelou

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Congratulations mama on the birth of your baby/ babies and your journey as a mother. The post-natal period, after the birth of your baby is an incredible time like no other. A time for nurturing, healing and replenishing yourself, your baby and embracing this new phase of life with your family.

Why do Post Natal Yoga?

As a woman, the post natal period is a highly transformative time. It can be a time of creativity and vision, and also a time of great vulnerability. You have just grown and birthed a baby and thats amazing, inspiring, and astounding. At the same time everything can feel wide open, both in your emotional and physical body, as you get to know yourself, your baby and your body in this new time and space.

Post natal women often talk about feeling highly sensitised to everything. Some describe it as a whirlwind where everything feels in flux. All of this is incredibly normal and so is the cocktail of emotions due to hormmal changes in the body. Your brain is literally growing when you are breast-feeding but women often feel there brain isn’t working properly. So do not fear mamas, it is not only working, it is evolving, just perhaps wired and tuned into a different frequency. Another thing which is not often spoken of, but is very common is a feeling of grief in the post natal period. Grieving for your old life, of what was, of not being totally familiar with who you are in this new context. Grief is part of the process needed to create space for the love, the ‘newness’ that comes with having a baby, as Naomi Stadlen says in What mothers do especially when it looks like nothing’, “in order to make enough space in her life for her baby, she seems to make a momentous inner shift… her whole self is changing..’ And in response to this something else that is heard so much is; ‘I need to get my old body back’. In essence there is no going back, but instead a beautiful opportunity to move forward and evolve. All of this is part of the post natal experience and it doesn’t need to all be peaches and cream’. Motherhood is messy, unpredictable, chaotic, and especially in the beginning, something which doesn’t sit well with rigid schedules, routines or time frames. Reframing what is often coined as mothering sacrifice, instead as a new maturity, no longer a self contained I, but a discovery of our innate power, strength, endurance and a surrendering to the change in order to move forward.

A mama needs support and practical tools to help her navigate this new phase. Embracing a flexible and self compassionate attitude. Letting go of expectations, exploring and experimenting, while prioritising self care and loving kindness. Here is where yoga can be so profoundly helpful, grounding, and supportive to a woman as she transitions and finds her feet. I love the idea that as we begin of our pregnancy journey we start a process of spiralling inward, like walking an inner labyrinth to the centre of our being, connecting and listening to our inner voice, intuition and heart as we breath and move together with the precious life growing inside us. Then as we emerge from the experience of birth, we are presented with a new and unrecognisable landscape and begin a process of unravelling from the centre, trusting and embracing the change as we navigate our way out of the labyrinth. There is great strength and wisdom that comes when we trust ourselves, when we celebrate our efforts and share with others.

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What does early post natal practice look like?

A GENTLE recuperative yoga practice is advised for post-natal mothers, to accommodate and adapt to the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual changes that have occurred, to avoid injury and to promote healing. This is the time to embrace your feminine body, to go gently, and to give yourself time to nurture and restore your yin energy, which is naturally depleted post birth. So think:


SLOW, STEADY MOVEMENT      

BREATH AWARENESS     

LOVING KINDNESS

The awesome Uma Dinsmore demonstrating Sonic Massage techniques to soothe mum and baby, 2018.

The awesome Uma Dinsmore demonstrating Sonic Massage techniques to soothe mum and baby, 2018.

A GUIDE FOR SAFE PRACTICE

So I know yoga is sort of hailed as a saviour for everything. And while I may be inclined to believe this, whats important here is that your yoga practice post birth and in the first year as a mother, needs to be the right yoga for that time and space. While in prenatal yoga there is an emphasis on opening and expanding, in the post natal period after birth the focus is on movement to strengthen the legs, to stabilise, restore and help nourish the core of our body. This is an amazing time to really expand our ideas around what yoga practice is. To listen, adapt and evolve the practice mindfully for the moment you are practising.

Things to ADOPT in your Post Natal Practice

INTERNAL PRACTICE – cultivate inner strength. connect to your body in this new time and space by really listening to your breath, to feeling rather than thinking or focusing on the external shapes you are making with your body. This is where the deep healing work begins, where postural integrity, pelvic floor restoration and deep stabilisation and strength will be cultivated.

FIND YOUR FEET – How you stand literally affects the position of your pelvic floor. Develop postural awareness by connecting with your feet & the ground to build a functional, responsive relationship. This is where in combination with breath work the deep restoration of the pelvic floor begins.

BREATH IS BOSS – This really is the key to connecting and building awareness of the inner landscape of your body in this new phase. The breath can be both restorative and Energising. The Healing Yogic Breath is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your pelvic floor and begin to restore elasticity. Become familiar with the healing breath by drawing the belly in & pelvic floor up on the exhale. Then begin to use with movement and sound. Remember pelvic floor mobility involves a balance of engaging and releasing the muscles.

TWISTS – Help to detoxify, stimulate and stoke digestive fire which is naturally sluggish post birth. They are revitalising when combined with breath work and deeply nourishing helping to restore balance and equilibrium through the spine. Notably they help to re-knit oblique abdominals & restore distasis recti, rebuilding structural support.

HEART OPENERS –Chest opening poses with a focus on breath to alleviate upper back and shoulder tension from feeding/carrying/ or weakened abdominals. They help to energise the body, and over time build strength and stamina with the breath.

RESTORATIVE POSES – these are the most valuable practices during the early post natal period and during times of exhaustion or low energy.

DEEP RELAXATION – This is so important. The power of even 5 or 10 minutes of deep relaxation can have the same nourishing effects as 4 hours of deep sleep. Use of sound practice (nada yoga) can really help especially if you are finding it hard to switch off. Take your time to get really comfortable, use props, bolster under knees if your lower back is sore. A cushion under your head. Turn off any devices, cover yourself with a blanket.

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Things to AVOID in your Post Natal Practice

WIDE STANCES - wide legged poses are not good in the immediate post natal period and should be avoided. Alignment changes can cause discomfort to destabilised pelvic joints & knees. Especially when breast feeding the ligaments and therefore joints are more vulnerable due to relaxin in the body.

DONT CHASE THE BURN - Chill Winston! Fast, strenuous movement is not good at this time especially in the first 6 months post birth . Try to avoid ‘the ‘bums & tums’ style asana practice – ligaments can take up to 6 months to restore to pre-pregnancy tone.SO GO GENTLY.

BACK /BELLY STRESS - Repeat after me… ‘NO sit ups!’ This action only exasperates postural hunch. Your body has gone through a monumental transformation in the process of growing, birthing and now nurturing a baby. Post Caesarean avoid asana or breathwork that strains abdominals.

INVERSIONS - Especially in the immediate post natal period and until Lochia (bleeding) has ceased. Then time is your friend, build up slowly, starting with Partial or supported inversions to encourage pelvic floor engagement.

When can I start Post Natal Yoga?

Most Women will start between 8 and 12 weeks but the importance here is that you feel ready and comfortable. Try to find a teacher you connect with and speak with them first.

What to expect from YesYoga’s Mum and Baby Classes?

My aim is to create a space where you and your baba feel welcome, exactly AS YOU ARE.

If you come in your pijamas - perfect. If you come in funky zebra leggings, or jogging bottoms on inside out - wonderful. Maybe you feel frantic, teary, tired, hyper, excited, apprehensive, flat…. well the good news is you might feel one or all of these at some point over the course of your block and I welcome you with open arms, to come have a hug, share and do what ever serves you for that hour.

The intention of my Post Natal yoga classes is to nourish mama AND baba in an integrated way. You can join in, rest, feed, change a nappy, sleep or just be in the space with us.

To NURTURE, STABILISE, RESTORE, AND REVITALISE in that order.

In these classes you and baby will explore breath work, yoga poses, movement, song, sound practice, relaxation and massage to help cultivate self awareness and encourage bonding and communication with your baby. Working from the inside out, using integrated movement, breath and sound so you can find stability and over time, build a new found and deeply anchored strength and vitality.

So come join us: laugh, cry, have fun and feel the power and magic that is created from a circle of women sharing together with acceptance and love.

Truly great things happen when women are together!

tx

YesYoga Mum and Baby Class - Enjoying some post class chats with tea, chocolate and some self care treats.

YesYoga Mum and Baby Class - Enjoying some post class chats with tea, chocolate and some self care treats.

VEGAN APPLE CRUMBLE AND CINNAMON MUFFINS

VEGAN APPLE CRUMBLE AND CINNAMON MUFFINS

These autumnal Apple and cinnamon muffins are bursting with flavour and sweetness. A nourishing and healthy sweet treat for everyone. These beauties are great with a hot cuppa and a thoughtful gift for a post natal mama friend, to support healing and provide a quick energy boost. 

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