For some women, the pregnancy and postpartum journey is a breeze. But for quite a lot of other women, pregnancy and labor can make you feel like your body is falling apart. Even well into postpartum, the stress of being a new mom combined with the constant upper body engagement involved in nursing and carrying around a sweet (but deceptively heavy) baby all day (and night!) can cause some serious aches and pains. But what can you do? The baby's only gonna get heavier! Luckily, there are some easy-to-do neck and back stretches for moms that will help to ease those nagging pains now, to relieve some of those new mom pains.
Are you one of those people who almost never stretches? Most of us could probably use a little more stretching in our lives. As a certified personal trainer, this is something I see in my clients all the time, literally. And as a mom, I'll never forget the pain in my neck and shoulders when I was nursing around the clock, not to mention the soreness in my arms and back. Those tiny little babies are surprisingly heavy. My nursing pillow became my best friend. It was such a relief to have that support as I nursed. But I totally could have helped myself more by being extra proactive with my stretching. Check out these stretches you can do every day to help relieve some of that tension in those mom muscles that are working oh so hard now that you've got a little one.
1. Shoulder & Chest Stretch Using A Strap
Physical therapist Brett Sears explained in an article on the Very Well Fit website that stretching with a towel or strap can really help increase your flexibility and mobility in any area. Stretches like the one in the video above can help open up the muscles in your chest and shoulders, relieving some of those aches and pains that will just not go away.
2. Wall Stretch
As detailed on the exercise guide and website, Spotebi, this stretch helps to open the chest and can even improve posture in the process. We all could stand to improve our posture, right?
3. Cat/Cow Stretch
Cat/Cow pose can help "increase flexibility in the neck, shoulders, and spine" as yoga teacher Ling Beisecker wrote on Do You Yoga. Other potential benefits of this pose include heightened creativity and focus and improved mood.
4. Forward Bend With Interlaced Fingers
This is a great stretch to do to open the shoulders, according to the website Pocket Yoga. This pose also helps alleviate depression, fatigue and anxiety, which can be so helpful for some new moms. Becoming a mom is stressful!
5. Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog is a yoga pose that helps stretch the back, arms and legs, according to the Gaia website. Other benefits include improved circulation, digestion, and anxiety. I personally love this pose and can hang out in it for hours.
6. Modified Child's Pose
The very relaxing Child's Pose can not only help stretch the body, it can also help to "calm the brain and relieve stress and fatigue," according to Yoga Journal. This pose is beneficial for moms because it can help to relieve back pain, too, when supports are used. You can do this modified pose with props like a block, blanket or balance ball.
7. Neck Side Stretch
From Yoga International, stretching the neck can have positive effects on the mind as well as the body by helping to alleviate tension and "quiet the mind as well as bring a sense of well-being."
As moms, it's important for us to take care of ourselves. Stretching, relaxing as much as possible and relieving stress not only makes us feel better but it helps us be better moms for our babies. When we feel better, we can do better.
Season 2 of Doula Diaries shares the stories of fearless doulas helping their clients take control of their births and make tough choices that feel right to them. Watch the first episode of the new season Monday, November 26th.