Yoga and Breastfeeding: What do you need to know?

Moms, we’ve come a long way when it comes to breastfeeding. Going to the way of the wind are the days when we were shamed to publicly nurture our babies.

See Carlee Benear in action, for example:

Even the Duchess of Sussex is all about post-birth yoga:

We’ve still got a long way to go, for sure, but the future is bright. Feeding our little ones is no longer something to be hidden but instead celebrated. It’s been refreshing seeing the openness given to breastfeeding and all the forums out there celebrating this aspect of Motherhood. Because of this change, many doors have opened to expanding the conversation about the many methods of breastfeeding.

And some are pushing the envelope. Not a trailblazer? It’s all right. The few that push boundaries raise the bar for all of us. And it’s been happening with yoga.

Yoga and Breastfeeding

Hop online and you’ll see some very fit and agile moms rocking out their yoga routines.

While breastfeeding. We can’t all be like Carlee Benear. Without a doubt she’s well-advanced in the practice of yoga. For the rest of us though it provides some great practical advantages. It’s time with baby and it’s the nurturing feel of skin-to-skin contact. Yoga develops a state of mindfulness that is fleeting for many moms. Who has the time? Implementing some simple yoga poses can do all these things at once.

There have been some warnings that exercise can affect milk supply. But it’s misleading. There are no known studies that point to a decrease in breast milk or its nutritional value in mothers who exercise. Light exercise is the best choice for nursing moms. Yoga is perfect in providing strength training and light cardio benefits. And as a mom you might worry about the increased calorie burn from any type of exercise. Don’t worry about it. Any calorie deficit can easily be made up with light, post-workout snacks. Choose options with protein and healthy fats. These snacks will keep milk production at pre-workout levels and repair and build muscle.

Yoga Poses for Breastfeeding

Any exercise is good for the mind and body. Yoga’s simplicity is at its core in this regard. Wherever you are, you can do yoga. For busy moms, this is crucial. It also gives us a respite from the worries of motherhood. A relaxed mom will produce more milk. She’ll be more in tune with her baby. We all need that mental and emotional boost that exercise provides. Yoga is perfect for striking that balance. And for those of us dealing with postpartum depression, try yoga. Yoga and breastfeeding are a natural way to fight off those blues.

Start with simple poses like the Cat-Cow Stretch to keep the spine mobile. The rounding and arching of the back will keep it loose and the muscles limber. The Sphinx pose creates a heart opening that you can do with your baby. Like the Cat-Cow, it keeps the back muscles relaxed and strong.

It’s good for you…

Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding are physically demanding. It’s an understatement no matter how you word it. What’s nice about the practice of yoga is its low impact nature. It could be the perfect exercise regimen to strengthen muscles stretched out during pregnancy. It’s also a good way to take the strain out of tired muscles. And it’s a wonderful way to get back to an active lifestyle after pregnancy and childbirth. Let’s face it, childbirth is the most demanding experience the human body can endure.

To strengthen the hips and lower back, incorporate the Bridge Pose into your routine. And the old standby, the Downward Facing Dog, will work the shoulder and back muscles. These are standard poses that beginner and expert alike can hold. Shake loose the stress those muscles are holding in with these poses. Chances are you won’t realize how tight your body was until working these poses into your routine. The beauty is in the simplicity of it all. It’s simple movements of the body that will keep it in tune.

Hot Yoga and Breastfeeding

Hot yoga has been all the rage. Hot Yoga is a style of yoga performed in conditions that are hot and humid. While there are different styles and variations on hot yoga, the room is typically heated to over 100 degrees (F), and the humidity is raised to 40 percent or higher. Sessions can last 90 minutes or longer. During hot yoga, you can lose 1.5 L of water from your body through sweat.

Like typical yoga, hot it is perfectly safe when breastfeeding. The only risk to breastfeeding is the increased need for hydration. If a breastfeeding mom doesn’t consume enough calories and liquids to support herself and to produce milk, her body will not produce as much milk as normal.

If hot yoga is an infrequent exercise, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the exercise impacting your milk. But if you are consistently performing hot yoga, and you are not careful about hydrating during and after your session, you may put your milk supply at risk.

The important thing is to listen to your body. It’s a practice that yoga teaches. Pace yourself. If you’ve had a C Section, be sure to take your limitations into consideration.

In any event, this is one session where it would be best to leave your infant at home (and not have her present on the mat or in the room) due to the risk of overheating or dehydration.

Breastfeeding While Performing Yoga

Which brings us back to the yogis that have been wowing us. Their dedication to their babies and yoga practices are nothing short of amazing. Can you do it? Sure! But let’s take it easy. Find a routine and work it into your day-to-day activities. For some of us, yoga on its own is more than enough. But if we want baby to join in, it’s as easy as finding a pose we can hold while baby can latch on safely.

Some are easier than others. The Sphinx and Plank Poses keep baby at your breast, beneath you. Don’t be afraid to support your arms or body because it’s all about you and baby getting comfortable together. If that’s too much, then try the Lotus Pose. It’s an upright position and will make beginners feel more in control. It also keeps the breast right in front of baby for easy latching. These are just suggestions. For me, I tried a local class to get a few poses down since for me it’s better to have a little instruction. I know it calmed my nerves a bit. Furthermore, there are probably plenty of options close to home for you to try.

Breastfeeding. Yoga. Two words I wouldn’t have put together before. We’re not all human pretzels but we can do this. Your baby is proof that our bodies can do amazing things. Even yoga while breastfeeding.

For more information for new parents about breastfeeding, check out:

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