postpartum yoga moves to increase breast milk supply and support muscle recovery

Pull out boob. Feed baby. Change diaper. Stare at breast pump. Find nipple cream. Change pad. Repeat… Those first few weeks post-partum can be a total blur—even with a second parent, nanny, or doula in the mix. And when you finally have the where-with-all to even think about exercising, your body and mind might not be on the same page.

“Carrying and delivering a baby, vaginally or by c-section, does a number on your body,” says Lucky Denenga, PT, director of therapy and occupational health at Texas Health Hospitals, and Mama Love Advisory Board member. “Your hips shift during pregnancy, your abdominals expand, and your pelvic floor goes through a lot—those areas need time to repair and come back into alignment,” says Denenga. Which means, even after getting the thumbs up from your OB to return to physical activity at your 6-week check-up, you might want to take it easy for a while longer. Extra easy—like one-step-in-front-of-the-other walks and slow-flow yoga, Mama!

Here are five yoga moves that can gently increase blood flow, encourage muscle repair, and help you unwind after all that boob activity.

Gentle Yoga Move #1: Child’s Pose

gentle yoga move #1: child's pose

Child’s Pose is often used during yoga practice as a reset after a tough series of poses, but it’s also great on its own to gently stretch your neck, spine, and lower back, and open up your hips. For extra credit: Combine this relaxing position with Kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor.

Gentle Yoga Move #2: Downward Dog 

gentle yoga move #2: downward dog

So simple, it’s complicated. This move activates and strengthens muscles in your arms, shoulders, and back, while deeply stretching the backs of your legs—specifically, the hamstrings and calves, and the arches of your feet. If Downward Dog seems easy, you’re doing it wrong. Be sure to lift your hips up and back, away from your shoulders, to really feel it.

Gentle Yoga Move # 3: Pigeon Pose

gentle yoga move #3: pigeon pose

Mamas often carry stress in their lower backs and hips, making the beginner version of Pigeon Pose (pictured) a must-do. It gently stretches everything in that region—your thighs, groin, psoas, and abs, while opening up your chest and shoulders. Place a folded blanket or towel under your front hip for more support.

Gentle Yoga Move #4: Upward Dog

gentle yoga move #4: upward dog

A counter pose to Downward Dog, Upward Dog opens up your chest and stretches your abs and shoulders. The key to getting it right: Actively draw your shoulders down and away from your ears, keeping them line with your wrists, as you lift your legs and torso, and puff out your rib cage. (Skip this move if you have low-back issues or diastasis recti!)

Gentle Yoga Move #5: Lotus Pose

gentle yoga move #5: lotus pose

Criss-cross applesauce! This move looks like a whole lotta nothing, but it can actually open up your hips, elongate your spine, and activate your abdominals. Be sure to alternate which foot lands on top, to avoid alignment issues. And try adding in some slow, deep breaths—research shows it has brain-calming effects. 

Hey, are you still sitting there, just breathing? Don’t you have a boob to pull out?

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