7 Benefits of Postnatal or Postpartum Yoga

Natalie Roberson, RYT-200 guest posts for us on the benefits of Postnatal/Postpartum Yoga. You can find her teaching our Postnatal Yoga class on Sunday mornings, 10:00-11:30. She also teaches our Meditations for Labor workshop. ~Deena

Postnatal Postpartum Prenatal Yoga PittsburghMother the Mother

Women are givers, but giving themselves priority doesn’t always happen. Taking some time for yourself should be a priority. During Postnatal Yoga classes, the focus is on you, mama, so you will be refreshed and ready to parent again after class.

A Postnatal Yoga class provides new mothers an environment where they can have some time for themselves. This is a great time for a family member to help out by spending time with the baby. Postnatal Yoga offers mothers precious “me” time during the first few months when there is almost zero time away.

Physical and Emotional Benefits of Postnatal or Postpartum Yoga

1. Community: Connect with your peers about the challenges and joys of being a new mother.

2. Rebuild flexibility and muscle tone: Help your body handle the new demands of caring for your baby. Developing strength in abdominal and back muscles reduces postpartum back pain (Gustafsson and Nilsson-Wikmar 2008).

3. Maintain spinal integrity: Relaxin looses joints everywhere in the body, not just the pelvis. Some researchers believe these ligaments may stay loose and are prone to overstretching up to eight months following giving birth (Karadeli and Uslu 2009).

4. Tone and stretch your upper body: Toning your arms can stave off soreness that comes from constantly picking up your child. The average newborn weights 7.5 pounds and gets picked up about 50 times each day.

5. Stretch those achy shoulders and back: Breastfeeding can cause the spine and shoulders to become rounded and sore.

6. Routine exercise may prevent postpartum depression (Norman et al. 2010).

7. Cultivate patience: A newborn requires an intensive amount of energy. Stay with one breath at a time, one pose at a time. Cultivating connection on the mat can help new moms be connected through the long hours and days and months of a new baby’s life.

The postpartum period lasts up to two years, so practicing yoga is a great way to get your strength back, take time for yourself, and even prepare for the next baby. You deserve this time for yourself!

Postnatal yoga provides numerous physical and emotional benefits. Shining Light’s Postnatal Yoga classes are appropriate for most women six weeks postpartum–eight weeks if they have had a Cesarean birth. Please check with your midwife or doctor before returning to class.

Join us for class – Every Sunday, 10:00 – 11:30 am


Natalie Roberson, Postnatal Yoga, Meditations for Labor, Shining Light Prenatal Education, PittsburghNatalie Roberson, RYT-200 is a graduate of the 3rd Street Yoga Teacher Training Program and has been a yoga practitioner for over ten years. Her classes focus on teaching a varied practice with emphasis on accessibility, challenge and fun. She has been fortunate to have studied with Joanne VanDenHengel, Kundalini with Mary Beth Kelly and Yin Yoga with Richard Gartner. Natalie is continuing her education with prenatal yoga certification from Yoga Matrika. Natalie has experienced both the physical and emotional benefits of yoga and is grateful to be able to share them with others. Her technical background influences her detail-oriented yoga teaching style.

Works Cited

  • Gustafsson, Johanna, and Lena Nilsson-Wikmar. 2008. “Influence of specific muscle training on pain, activity limitation and kinesiophobia in women with back pain post-partum: A ‘Single-subject research design.’” Physiotherapy Research International, volume 13, issue 1: pages 18-30.
  • Karadeli, Elif, and Nihal Uslu. 2009. ” Sacral Fracture Presenting as Lumbar Pain.” Journal of Women’s Health, volume 18, issue 5: 663-65
  • Norman, Emily, Margaret Sherburn, Richard H. Osborne, and Mary P. Galea. 2010. “An Exercise and Education Program Improves Well-Being of New Mothers: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Physical Therapy, volume 90, issue 3: 348-55.

New! Class Offerings Online with Google Helpouts

Helpouts by Google – Great Expectations, or, I’m Pregnant, Now What? by Deena Blumenfeld of Shining Light Prenatal Education

I am broadening Shining Light’s reach beyond Pittsburgh and out into the rest of the world with Google Helpouts. It’s an online tool for live, interactive, web-based classes. They can be taught at a scheduled time or they can be scheduled to suit the student’s needs.

My first offering on Google Helpouts is: Great Expectations, or, I’m Pregnant, Now What? This is the online version of the group class we currently offer at Shining Light for early pregnancy.

The class description:

Are you newly pregnant or trying to conceive a baby? Do you want to know more about what to expect in early pregnancy? This is one of the most important class you can take.
Your care provider (doctor or midwife) won’t schedule your first appointment until you are 8-12 weeks pregnant. Now what?

Welcome to your first trimester! I’ll ease your fears and help you set reasonable expectations for your first trimester and beyond.

Morning sickness, fatigue, weight gain, and your growing belly will all be discussed over the course of this class.
If you haven’t chosen a care provider yet, or have simply chosen to stay with you regular OB-gynecologist, I will fill you in on your options and give you some good questions to ask of them. Choosing a care provider is one of the most important decisions you can make for your pregnancy.

Appointments, tests, weight gain, the “big” ultrasound, maternity clothes, baby movements, uncomfortable sleeping… all of this comes with the second and third trimesters. I’ll cover all of these and give you some tools to help you make appropriate choices for your pregnancy.

I’ll let you know what to expect and how you can cope with the discomforts of pregnancy. We will also talk about pre-term labor, warning signs, and when to call your care provider.

Do bring any questions that you may have. I’m happy to answer them all.

Let me help you ease into your pregnancy with grace and get ready to birth with confidence.

Oh, and there is a coupon code for your very first Helpout with me!
Use code DEENA53D to get $25 off! Regular price for my Helpout is $55. This saves you almost 50%!

Details here!

There will be other Helpouts coming soon. I’ll offer Helpouts on VBAC Considerations, Planned C-Section, Twins and Multiples and more! Look for them soon!

I look forward to working with you online as well as at Shining Light.

More Confused than when You Started: The Pitfalls of Asking for a Referral for a Doctor or Midwife

Do you like your OB

I’ve asked similar questions myself regarding different types of professionals. Our friends’ opinions matter to us. We trust those that have worked with someone to give us guidance and recommendations.

The problem is when one friend loves the doctor and the other has had a bad experience. It is complicated by the third person who interjects with, “Well, I’ve never worked with so-and-so, but I’ve heard…” This often leaves us more frustrated and confused than when we started. So, why is it that one friend loves that OB and the other says he’s terrible?

This is not a simple answer. Some of it may come down to expectations. What did friend 1 expect of their doctor vs. what did friend 2 expect? If their expectations differed then it is likely that friend 1 was happy because her expectations were met, and friend 2 was dissatisfied because her expectations were not met.

If we don’t clearly outline our expectations with our doctors / midwives, and, conversely, they don’t clearly outline their expectations of us, then we have a rather large opportunity for miscommunication and unhappiness.

There are also different ways of interpreting a person’s words or actions. One person may view a doctor who speaks briefly and succinctly as brusque and cold. Another person may appreciate the brevity and see it as efficiency. So, how we perceive another’s words and actions color our opinion of “good” doctor vs. “bad” doctor.

There is also the monkey wrench of medical complications. If the mother experiences unplanned medical complications (really, do we plan for such things?), she may find that her doctor or midwife may react in a way that she doesn’t expect. They may be less communicative, less compassionate and more clinical during the time of the complication. This can be perceived as being “mean” or “short tempered”. However, it may be an auto-pilot response of dealing with a real or potential crisis.  Time may be an issue as well. If the doctor or midwife is under the pressure of “must do this now” there may simply not be adequate time to provide all of the social niceties we’d prefer.

Now, as with the above example, some women will see this as an asset. “Thank goodness my doctor didn’t waste time and they jumped in and did what was necessary to prevent further problems.” Other women will feel like they’ve been trampled upon and treated in an unkind and uncaring manner – same situation, different perception. Both opinions are valid.

Let’s bring this full circle. You are looking for a doctor or midwife to care for you during your pregnancy and birth. Instead of asking “who’s the best?” or “what do you think of so-and-so?” outline your expectations for a care provider.

Here’s an example:

“I’m looking for a doctor or midwife who is open to letting me eat and drink during labor; is cool with me moving around and being out of bed; who is open to working with a doula; who isn’t quick to jump to induction or c-section; and who is a generally happy person and easy to get along with; oh, and someone who delivers at hospital X. Thanks!”

This is a much clearer outline of what you are looking for. You will still get answers of different stripes and someone will likely go off on a tangent about how their doctor at another hospital was crap or that you should consider homebirth. But you can easily weed those comments out of your considerations and pare it down to the useful ones.

Please do read all recommendations with the appropriate filter of “opinion” and vet the doctor or midwife yourself. Do ask open-ended questions to your potential care provider. Plan to interview them as you would any other person you’d hire for a service. Then combine your information with the opinion of friends you trust and you can make a better decision about which doctor or midwife is right for you.

Always keep in mind that you will find 10 women who love that doctor and another 10 who will say they had a bad experience. It’s all perspective. It’s about finding a good match for you, not a good match for other people. Your needs are unique and only you will know if that doctor or midwife is a good fit.


Additional Resources from Lamaze International:

More of my musings on related topics:

Six is the new Four, with regards to the start of Active Labor

A few weeks ago ACOG updated their guidelines for preventing a primary c-section. One of their points is that active labor is 6 cm, not 4. This is a big deal and can reduce the number of c-sections done for “failure to progress”. Please share this information!

6 is the new 4

Tweet: ACOG is trying to prevent primary c-sections. Remember #6isthenew4 Have patience with the length of labor - from @ShiningLghtPE


A Bit of Inspiration: Finding your Power during Birth

This is something I say often during my Confident Birthing classes. It is a major component to having a birth experience where you are comfortable with any medical intervention you may need, or that you may choose.

Please share it!