Postpartum Yoga and Fitness

Hey, lovelies! 16 weeks have gone by since I gave birth to my little muffin. I am still running on little sleep and huge mugs of blue tea, but happy to say that I am back on my mat. So it’s about time I write a post on my postpartum yoga journey.

Before that, please note – all bodies are different and we all struggle with challenges of our own. This is an account of my personal journey where the goal is to gain my pre-pregnancy strength. I worked with midwives and my GP to figure out what worked best for me. You can read an account of my pregnancy here – Pregnancy, Fitness, and Disappearing eyebrows

Postpartum Yoga

I underwent Forceps Delivery and a third-degree episiotomy (a surgical incision made between vagina and rectum). My Diastasis Recti or DR (abdominal separation) measured three and a half fingers after birth. I had lost so much strength that I was in a wheelchair for the first two days and couldn’t get up from the bed without assistance. Things looked better after a few days, nonetheless, the first week was extremely tough. Thankfully, by 4th week my stitches had almost healed and DR had reduced to 2 finger gap. It was then I started doing pelvic exercises. Since I had DR I was careful about not doing anything that might hinder the healing of the gap, that means no planking, twists, and backbends. You can easily find if you have a DR by following simple steps – Diastatic Recti Test.

I started gentle yoga practice after the doctor gave me all clear sign at my 6 weeks checkup. At that point, even doing one round of Suryanamaskar took a lot of effort due to weak core and inflexibility in the back. So I modified a lot of poses to accommodate my healing body. I mostly concentrated on stretching and balancing asanas as these were easier to do. This is me at 6 weeks postpartum, doing my first Warrior III after birth.

Along with Suryanamaskar sequence, warrior variations, and sunbird pose, I loved doing half-moon. A wonderful Diastasis Recti friendly pose that helped me in improving my balance.

Half Moon Pose
Extended side angle pose

The abdominal separation across my belly further reduced to half a fingertip by week 11 but the healing has slowed down now. I started holding core strengthening poses like Vasisthasana or side planks and forward planks. I am not doing too much of deep core strengthening workouts like Navasana.

Before pregnancy, I was working on my splits and was just a yoga block away from achieving them. I tried to find articles on doing splits after episiotomy, but couldn’t find much information. So, I thought, I will figure it out myself. 🙂 I waited till week 10 to practice half splits and lizard poses to improve hip flexibility. My leg flexibility has improved a lot now, especially forward fold, which was really hard to do after birth. No, the stitches don’t hurt, but doing a split is still a distant dream. 🙂

This is not a good “Extended hand to toe pose” 🙂 Working towards improving hip mobility.

Extended hand to toe pose

I have lost a lot of my back flexibility. Wheel or Chakrasana, which I could easily do before, looks like an impossibility now. 🙂 I don’t mind being back to basics. It’s amazing how our bodies transform and heal when given time. The two backbends that I am trying to improve are “wild thing” (Camatkrasana) and “dancer’s pose” (Natrajasana). Back flexibility is going to be challenging as I am mindful of Diastasis Recti.

Wild Thing Pose
Lord of the Dance Pose

The only inversion I can currently do is Headstand. My shoulders and core need a bit more strengthening before I can try forearm stand or handstand. Here’s a headstand at week 10.

Other exercises!

Along with yoga I also do low body workouts like squats and lunges, hip and spine mobility movements, walking on a treadmill and diastasis recti friendly full-body workouts (which I found on Instagram by an amazing trainer Dana Landgren (@danalandgren)). All of them are low impact workouts which are great for me.

My little one likes to sleep in arms, so I do a lot of heavy lifting all day long. I don’t have a fixed time and practice whenever he is asleep or is playing with my parents. I spend anywhere between 15 to 60 minutes on working out. Frankly, some days I just sit and stare at him. 🙂

Before I finish off this post – I have always wanted to make one of these before and after photos. So here goes:

If you have any questions or tips about post-pregnancy health, please let me know in the comments.

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Related post: How I learned to do yoga arm balances?

10 thoughts on “Postpartum Yoga and Fitness

  1. No would would believe that this is a woman who is 16 weeks postpartum. You are indeed a wonder woman. Proud of you and your commitment towards fitness is awe-inspiring. Great going, Raj!!

  2. This is amazing. I’d never done yoga till years after I had the twins so I missed out on these benefits. But it’s really amazing that after 6 weeks you could begin exercising. Way to go.

  3. Babe, you please be careful! Frankly, I have no idea about all that you wrote about DR etc…never experienced it, don’t understand it 😦
    But, I am in awe of you, and you know that! Super training, and I must say, you will soon be doing the Chakrasana…just .wait and watch.

  4. I started walking 4 weeks post partum. Did begin Yoga at least 6 months later. You are doing so well, Raj! You wouldn’t believe how much Yoga I do these days along with my strength training. The only thing I avoid is lunges after my knee injury and recovery.

  5. I have always been in awe of your yoga poses. It is amazing to see you doing headstand at 16weeks postpartum. I am in 520th week post partum and still can barely lift my legs. Kudos girl. When my boy was an infant he also loved to sleep in my arms. Even now, he comes and cuddles in my arms. This is what we call bliss of motherhood.

  6. It’s so inspiring to see you getting back to fitness by being mindful. Doing light yoga stretches helped me with my back pain after both the pregnancies. It’s important to do simple workouts to get back on track. For some reason I didn’t know about diastasis recti. It was only some 10 months later my second one was born I learned about it. I did the test at that time and came to the conclusion that I don’t have a gap, though my tummy is spilling all over my body. 😀
    Love to your little cutie. ❤

  7. More power to you, Raj! You’re amazing with pulling off those postures after birth very soon after having undergone DR & such an episiotomy.

    I too remember beginning with a few simple Yogasanas like Padahastasana, Vrikshasana & Veerbhadrasana. I guess I didn’t begin with Suryanamaskara before at least 5 months of birth. I had had a C section & I believe incisions & stitches make things very challenging. No matter whether they were at the birth canal or the lower abdomen. The pain often puts some women off & the fear & uncertainty about doing core exercises & getting the stitches troubled.

    But you’re a huge inspiration, girl! And we have a lot to learn from you! And you’ve rightly directed people to check with their GP or ObGyn before going ahead with a certain type of exercise.

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