It isn’t uncommon for new mothers to feel symptoms of postpartum depression in the weeks or months following the birth of their new child. These symptoms may include feelings of anxiety, frustration, depression and fear.
During a time that is supposed to be happy, these feelings may seem out of place or unjustified, but they aren’t. And if you are feeling this way, you’re not alone. Postpartum depression is common and affects more women than most people think.
But there is hope. Aside from a medical professional’s treatment, practicing yoga can provide countless benefits to new mothers who are feeling the effects of postpartum depression. Here are five.
1. Balance Hormones
It is widely thought postpartum depression is caused by a hormonal imbalance. The stress-induced hormone cortisol is drastically changing during the weeks leading up to childbirth and the weeks following. This imbalance can cause depression.
Yoga can help regulate this imbalance and get the body back to normal. Yoga postures help balance the endocrine system that produces the stress hormones causing the symptoms. The controlled breathing practiced in yoga also stimulates the nervous system to help your body stay healthy and resilient.
2. Restore Body Image
Yoga is the perfect activity for new moms to get some exercise without the need to go to the gym or spend hours on the treadmill. It can be done in your own home, and you can make the practice as easy or as difficult as you’d like.
Regular practice can help build flexibility, strengthen muscles, and tone the upper body. With a new baby, mothers have to meet new demands physically and emotionally. Allowing for some time to take care of your body will help you gain confidence and keep in shape during these tough months.
3. Relax and Unwind
Practicing yoga is also the practice of controlled and focused breathing. Paying close attention to your breathing during your yoga routine will overflow into your everyday life, and steady breathing will become a habit.
This is useful because when things get overwhelming or stressful with the new challenges in your life, you can turn to the breathing you practice during yoga. In the long run, this will help your body handle stressful situations and produce less adrenaline and stress hormones.
It is also important as a new mom to take some time for yourself, as difficult or impossible as it may seem. Setting aside time, even 10 minutes, for a yoga practice can provide this time to relax and focus on you.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is learning to live and appreciate each moment as it comes. Practicing this before, during and after pregnancy has been proven to lower the risk of postpartum depression. It can also help new mothers appreciate each moment with their newborn baby and treasure each day while reducing anxiety and stress.
Using yoga and mindfulness are an effective alternative to medication to treat and deal with postpartum depression for woman who would prefer a more natural option.
5. Build Community
One of the hardest things to deal with when suffering from postpartum depression is the feeling that you are alone and that what you are feeling is wrong. But the truth is that up to 70 percent of women experience symptoms of postpartum depression.
When practiced in a group setting, yoga provides a sense of community and a connection to other women going through the same thing you are going through. There are even plenty of yoga studios that offer specific postpartum classes. Emotional support is important during such a hard time, and yoga can help you find that.
Postpartum depression is real and is definitely a hardship new mothers must learn to navigate while also learning how to care for another precious, tiny human being. Allow yoga into your life to help you adjust and to find balance and peace as you go through the miraculous journey of being a mom.