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The Fourth Trimester, how do you look after yourself?

The first six weeks or so after childbirth is often dubbed the ‘Fourth Trimester’. Most people have heard about the importance of yoga during pregnancy, but there’s less awareness about how yoga can continue to enhance physical and mental wellbeing once the baby is born.

In so many ways this intense time in which mother and baby are adapting to their new, out-of-utero life, is an extension of the pregnancy.

In the postpartum period you are rocked by a hormonal roller-coaster, elated one moment, tearful the next – including the all-important breast-feeding hormones. Your body is still recovering from the effects of pregnancy and birth, and largely under-slept because of the demands of feeding and caring for the baby.

It’s therefore a time to be extremely gentle and sensitive to your needs, both physically and emotionally. This way you can best support yourself and baby during this delicate ‘trimester’.

There is no need for you to rush onto the gym treadmill or back to your favourite Vinyassa class in an attempt to lose the baby-weight. In fact, strong exercise, if performed too early or rigorously can be counter-productive and can contribute towards injury and even burn-out.

I generally recommend in that a new mother wait until at least 6-weeks postpartum before she commences yoga classes. However, there are some gentle supportive yoga practices that you can safely practice at home in the meantime, as long as you have some previous experience of yoga and no major, post-birth complications.

To nurture your physical and emotional energy during the Fourth Trimester, you can try some simple, relaxation practises and supported restorative postures. And the best bit is, you can slip these into those short breaks while baby sleeps, or is happy having some mat time.

Reclining butterfly

You can experience many benefits from this pose, Supta Baddakonsana, over a bolster, for its gentle back-bending and shoulder opening effects: “I loved it for the calm measured breathing it seemed to induce and the opportunity it gave me to put the eye bag on and rest. I think I even went to sleep in the pose (legs supported on pillows) in bed! Which may sound bizarre but it really helped me get into a deep sleep quickly.”

Reclining Hero

One of my favourites, after the birth of my son, Cassius, was Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose). I practices this supported on a bolster, as a way of passively stretching my quads and psoas. As is common, these had become tight from the lower back being moved into exaggerated lumbar lordosis (sway-lower-back) in the latter months of pregnancy. I also found this pose beneficial for its gentle stretching and opening of the abdominal area which had all been so cramped from sharing the space with the baby-in-utero.

Legs Up the Wall

After post partum bleeding (‘lochia’) stops, the restorative pose, ‘Legs up the Wall’, either with bottom supported on a folded blanket or bolster is a wonderful pose that can be practiced on its own at any time. It gives the benefits of an inversion whilst facilitating deep breathing, and is extremely rejuvenating and therapeutic for the lower back.

While in a supported pose or sitting or lying in relaxation, the emphasis is on lengthening and deepening the inhalation during the early postnatal weeks.

Tip: Try taking 3 in breathes in quick succession pause breathe out long and slow through the mouth. Repeat x3

Focusing on the inhalations can help energise and build optimism which can be beneficial for counteracting the lethargy and negativity that can accompany sleep-deprivation. As time goes on, you can shift your focus to longer exhalations which support relaxation and the letting go of mental and physical tension.

To find out more of how to use yoga and support your mental & physical health in the fourth trimester join one of our classes!

Mums & Bubs Yoga at Yoga House Orewa

On Demand in the Online Studio

Join our mums & Bubs program from the comfort of your own home. Watch and follow along anytime you want, you will never have to miss a class with our online course.

121 Sessions

Are you looking for a more personal experience? I work with women in our clinic and wellness studio on the North Shore and online. I tailor our sessions together to suit your needs for a more bespoke course. I offer sessions to help you resolve birth or natal trauma, using my holistic counselling and hypnotherapy services. I also offer bespoke 121 - Mums Recovery sessions and baby yoga classes. Invest in your wellness today, you are the heart of your home so make sure you take care of you the best possible way.

See you at the Clinic or Studio soon

Donna x

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