Mommy Belly

The female body is capable of so much. Our bodies stretch and expand to house a little being for 9 months. Then when it’s all over, we expect that our bodies contract and return back to “normal.” Why do we expect this? Well, we often see new mom celebrities or our fittest friends show off their bellies after birth. We see their glow, their smiles, and their amazing, unchanged bodies. We think to ourselves, “It’s possible!” And, while possible, it’s not always the case! …And, that’s okay.

We, as a society; we, as women; we, as mothers; often do not share what really happens after birth to our bodies. While the mental and emotional side is starting to get more awareness (the postpartum depression, the anxiety, the feelings of inadequacies), the physical changes are often overlooked. Why? Perhaps because we don’t find it as important. Or, perhaps, because we are embarrassed or ashamed?

For me, the physical changes were almost just as alarming as the mental ones. I suffered from PTSD and some depression and definitely lots of anxiety (still do). I had heard of that before though. Witnessed it to some degree. I did not expect these HUGE changes to my physical experience though. I was surprised when I was left striped with stretch marks, with loose skin to the point where my belly button no longer looked like a belly button, and cellulite that was suddenly everywhere. Even my face had a permanent tired look–with bags under my eyes, some extra wrinkles, and a double chin that peaked out once in a while. My hair…I lost so much postpartum, it looked like I had shaved the sides of my head and near my hair line. As it grew back, my hair became scraggly and messy. Gray hairs also appeared.

Again, I come back to why aren’t we prepared for that? Why is it such a secret that our bodies change to such a great extent? It may not be traditionally attractive or sexy, but I think, if we all start talking about it, start showing photos of our true bodies, it will help us mothers begin to accept our new bodies. Our stretch marks, our loose skin, our extra belly fat– let’s grow to love it all. Our bodies have done so much for us. I feel so fortunate I was able to give birth to my son. I hope one day I can wear my scars & new mommy shape like a badge of honor! This blog post is just the beginning of my journey of loving my new self–mommy belly and all. I hope we moms start to share more. I’d love to hear your story too!

Pregnant Yogis: Keep It Up!

This post is written for pregnant yogis & for those who’d like to understand us a bit better!

First trimester yogis

For many of you a time of excitement, growth, and uncertainty, these first three months are an adventure!

As a pregnant yogi myself, I understand that keeping up your yoga practice can be difficult! For the first couple of months, I struggled to even get up to do simple tasks. I just wanted to sleep all day and night. It gets better though! In a few months, you’ll be full(ish) of energy again! In the meantime, get that extra rest AND try to get up to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. That could translate to a simple walk around the block, an easy swim, or a gentle yoga practice. Each pregnant mama is different. Some of us can run a marathon in the first trimester while others, like myself, have never been able to run a marathon and shouldn’t start now. Some of us need to be gentle with ourselves; others can charge on with their routines and workouts. Find where you are on the spectrum and adjust.

Some common symptoms besides tiredness are nausea, dizziness, and stuffy noses! A lot of the symptoms are caused by hormonal and blood pressure changes. We’ve all heard of morning sickness as a symptom. If you’re part of the majority that suffers from nausea, remember that it should only get better after the first trimester. I was one of the lucky ones who was nausea free for the most part. Instead, I had the dizziness and stuffy nose. I couldn’t breathe through my nose for over two months! (I tried peppermint essential oils, a neti pot, allergy medicine…sadly nothing helped the inflammation and extra mucus. TMI?)

First Trimester’s Yoga Challenges: Pranayama (Breath control), Uttanasana (forward folds), Downward facing dog, Fast movement up and down, Balances

Adjustments: Breathing through mouth, slow up and down movements, and using a wall for balance 

Second trimester yogis

I’m currently in my second trimester and feel pretty good! I have most of my energy back, which is a pretty big deal. I pulled out my planner again and have been motivated to reach my goals. Exercising almost daily hasn’t been difficult either lately. (Edit a week later: But some days, moving is frustrating. My body is growing daily and that is both a physical and mental adjustment!)

Also, my dizziness isn’t as constant and my ability to breath regularly is mostly back. Although I occasionally feel lightheaded during my yoga practice and outside of it, it doesn’t happen everyday now. Keep drinking plenty of water to help counteract any blood pressure changes and to keep leg cramps at bay. Also, eat every couple of hours (I love this part!).

During the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, your hormones are greatly changing. Your blood vessels dilate as your body produces more blood. At times, this can make you either lightheaded or heavy with a headache.

Try not to lay on your back for too long! The baby is heavy enough to compress a major blood vessel now when you’re lying flat on your back. I find laying down and getting back up too complicated anyway now, so I choose to avoid supine poses when possible.

Symptoms: Dizziness, lightheaded, headaches, leg cramps

Second trimester’s yoga challenges & adjustments:

Challenge 1: Closed twists

Adjustment 1: Open twists: Twist away from your front knee, find space/ Try a gentle twist

Challenge 2: Supine poses (on back)

Adjustment 2: Seated poses: Try the same poses like twists, side stretches, etc. while seated.

Challenge 3: Balances

Adjustment 3: Use a wall or other supporting device to help you keep your balance while finding the proper alignment.

Challenge 4: On-the-Belly poses

Adjustment 4: Try these poses seated. Cat-cows can replace any cobras or up dogs; camel pose can replace bow pose. Be creative!

Third trimester yogis

I’m not there yet, but I’ve done some research!

Be gentle with yourself. Listen to your body. Your body is pretty good at giving you signs of fatigue and exertion.

Try to keep your posture up! Tendency is to release your lower back because your belly is heavier and bigger now. But, this can contribute to some major back pain. So stand tall, sit down when needed, and gently hug that baby in with your ab muscles.

Last tip: Get plenty of rest. You’re almost there!

Symptoms: Fatigue, carrying more weight, swollen feet/legs, lower back pain, shortness of breath

Third Trimester’s Yoga Challenges: Steady breathing, Supine positions, Stomach positions, Twists, Balances, Everything Else (JK!)

Adjustments: Slow down, choose alternative poses (not on back or stomach), twist gently, use the wall for balances, and meditate often 😉

For more third trimester information, I found this great detailed article in Yoga Journal.

 

Note: I’m not an expert and do not have a prenatal yoga certification! I’m just a yogi who is pregnant, has done some reading, and has attended a couple brief prenatal yoga “workshops” during my generalized yoga teacher training. XO

Unexpected New Beginnings

This blog entry is an announcement! Excited to share some news with you. 

IT’S A PLUM! I’m twelve weeks pregnant! Surprise!

In 6 months from now, I will have a little bundle of love. It sounds so unreal. I haven’t wrapped my mind around it fully.

One day I’m checking out wedding venues with a friend, with a cocktail in hand, and the next, I’m sober with the news of a completely different future. Don’t get me wrong– I am excited and happy. But, there is fear and anxiety that accompanies that joy.

There’s so much responsibility that comes along with the baby. Am I ready for that? I had all these ideas of traveling the world. There are so many countries I wanted to visit in the next couple years– Spain, Italy, Philippines, Thailand, Costa Rica…and the list goes on. Now, I know traveling to all those places will be possible albeit a lot more difficult.

It will be okay.

Yoga has taught me to soothe those nerves with deep breaths and a mantra of “I am happy and I am at ease.” It has taught me to adjust with changing times and not to be too attached to one possible future.

Perhaps this is all happening exactly as it should be. Having kids a few years earlier than planned has its upside too. I’ve always wanted to be a Lorelai Gilmore with a sister-like daughter Rory (Non-Gilmore Girls fans please excuse this reference). And although I’m not 16, I am still in my 20’s! ha. (Fingers crossed for a girl!)

I am excited for all of the possibilities. Chris, the soon-to-be father and my fiance, is too. At the end of this month, we will likely find out the gender of our little plum!

How do I feel?

Luckily, I am healthy and also amazingly not a victim of morning sickness! I have just had that constant sense of tiredness everyday for the past 3 months and lately, some dizziness.

My on-the-mat practice has been minimal. I teach 4 times a week and have to be careful getting up and down since that’s when the dizziness hits. I need to find some local prenatal yoga classes. Any recommendations?

In contrast, my dancing hasn’t been too affected by this all! At least for salsa & bachata, there’s not too much up and down so I don’t get dizzy. I am slowly cutting back the hours of dancing since I do get more tired than normal.

Updates with vegetarianism: The cravings have been a lot less frequent lately! It turns out just around the time I starting cutting out meat from my diet is when I became pregnant! I wonder if that has anything to do with my struggles the first month or so???

I’ll keep you updated on the journey ahead.

Namaste,

Lindsey