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Yoga’s not just about getting bendy – the benefits for mother and child are numerous. Read on to find out more
Being a new mum poses a number of challenges – feeding, nappy changing, pram driving, sleepless nights, poorly babies, crying babies and missed appointments...
From that first little clutch around your finger to the first eye contact, first smile, first step and first word, bonding with baby is very rewarding. There are so many sensory pathways, including sound, touch, sight and movement that can help you bond and form a relationship with your little one.
While this bonding process can naturally start soon after the birth, it doesn’t always happen that way. This is one of the reasons many women find mother and baby yoga classes so enlightening. It’s a special place, away from the other side of motherhood, where sound, movement, space and touch is created to help you bond, play and have fun with your baby.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) runs regular classes with specialist practitioners. It believes mother and baby yoga is a great opportunity for new mothers to ease their way back into exercise after birth. The sessions include gentle yoga for babies so that mums and babies can practise together. Music and rhymes linked to the moves help to create a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
Spending quality time with your baby in this way creates a very safe and happy environment in which they can develop both physically and mentally. Françoise Barbira Freedman founded the Birthlight charity, which promotes greater enjoyment of pregnancy, childbirth and babies. She was one of the first to establish baby yoga classes in the UK. ‘It helps babies’ brains to grow lots of happy neuron networks at the time of the most intense growth in human life,’ she says.
How to find a safe baby yoga class
Only go with a teacher who has recognised qualifications and is associated with a recognised authority such as the NCT, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and Yoga Alliance UK. A good teacher should also be able to guide you individually; whether it’s to do with anxiety or a weak pelvic floor, they should have the experience and knowledge to help. Both NCT and Birthlight offer classes around the country.
Try this baby yoga move: kissing press-ups
With your baby lying on the floor in front of you, go onto your hands and knees, knees in line with hips, hands in line with shoulders. Keeping your back lengthened, tailbone slightly lifted and tummy muscles and pelvic floor drawn in, bend at your elbow joint to lower your face towards your baby. Give them a kiss and then press back up. Make sure you keep your elbows tucked in as you lower and lift. Repeat slowly 6-10 times.
The benefits of yoga for you
* Helps you to bond with your baby
* Establishes better breathing patterns after birth
* Connects and strengthens your body
* Removes feelings of anxiety
* Makes you a more confident and relaxed parent
* Gives you quality time with your baby
* Helps you to attune to your baby’s needs
* Can help with healing after a traumatic birth
* Can help with postnatal depression
The benefits for your baby
* Better sleep patterns
* Relaxed, more content
* Less colicky
* Supports natural development
* Aids digestion
* Boosts the immune system
* Stimulates the senses for greater physical and mental development
* Provides a safe and happy environment
By Jane Wake