The hotMaMa Diaries Blog - Breastfeeding blog and parenting blog

Breastfeeding and parenting blog

Everyone has a different experience of parenting and motherhood and there is no right or wrong path. The hotMaMa diaries is a place to read stories from other mothers and even share your own!

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Category: Mama Mental and Physical Wellbeing

  1. Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    Posted on

    Breastfeeding Awareness Month - Breastfeeding Blog and Parenting Blog
     
    BOOBS! 
    They're pretty important to me. They've fed my children, helping them grow strong and without them I would never have ended up running my own business. So they're kind of a big deal in every aspect of my life.  
     
    Boobs
     
     
    Every October, people all over the world show their support for everyone affected by breast cancer with breast cancer awareness month. Almost half of women in the UK don’t check their breasts regularly so here's a little reminder of how you can keep in touch with your boobs, just a little TLC
     
    TOUCH 🖐️🖐️🖐️
    Touch your breasts, can you feel anything new and unusual?
     
    LOOK 👀👀👀
    Look for changes, does anything look different?
     
    CHECK👌👌👌
    Check any changes with your GP 
     
    For more details about Breastfeeding Awareness Month click HERE
     
    TLC
     
    Boobs
  2. Lactation smoothie recipes

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    Lactation smoohie, recipe, blog, breastfeeding blog, parenting blog, new mu

    These recipes aren't too different to standard smoothies but they contain ingredients that are said to help boost milk supply (Woop Woop!)  According to Belly Belly, fenugreek, oats, brewer's yeast, and nuts can all increase lactation. Spinach and flax contain phytoestrogens which is thought to promote lactation, as well.  Having them in smoothie form can also make them easier and tastier to drink.  Some of these recipes also have added energy boosting  ingredients like bananas which also give sleep deprived mamas a little boost!

    Banana and oat lactation smoothie

    Lactation smoothie, recipe, blog, breastfeeding blog, parenting blog, new muIngredients
    1 Banana
    1 cup of Almond Milk
    1/4 cup of Oats
    1-2 TBS of Honey
    1 TBS of Flax Seed Oil
    1 TBS of Chia Seed
    1/2 cup of Ice
    Sprinkle of Cinnamon

    Method
    Place all ingredients into your blender.
    Blend on high for 1 minute, or until smooth.

    Strawberry and banana lactation smoothie

    srawberriesIngredients
    1/4 cup oats
    1 banana
    8 strawberries frozen
    1/2 cup milk
    1 tbsp honey
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 tsp brewer's yeast
    1 tsp ground flax seed

    Method
    Put oats into blender and process until the oats are well ground.
    Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

    Chocolate lactation smoothie

    Lactation smoothie, recipe, blog, breastfeeding blog, parenting blog, new muIngredients

    1/4 cup oats
    2 tbsp 100% cacao powder
    1 tbsp Flax seed
    3/4 cup Milk (or almond milk)
    2 cups Ice

    Optional
    1 Frozen Banana
    2 tbsp Peanut butter
    Honey (for a sweet flavor)

    Method
    Place the cacao powder and milk in the blender. Blend for about 30 seconds. Add other remaining ingredients and blend until smoothie consistency.

  3. How to meet other mums

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    Meeting other mums, how to meet other mums, breastfeeding blog, parenting blog, uk parent blog, uk parent blogger, breastfeeding clothes, nursing clothes, nursing clothing, nursing top, nursing tops, nursing dress, breastfeeding tops, breastfeeding tops, breastfeeding vests, breastfeeding dress, breastfeeding dresses

    We've get lots of posts from guest bloggers submitted, but one of the most common topics mums have struggled with is the loneliness associated with parenting. We've put together a list of top ways to meet other mums to help!

    During Pregnancy
    Joining an NCT group or attending a pregnancy yoga group is a great way to start building parenting friends even before baby arrives.

    Postnatal groups
    Many areas offer free postnatal groups for new mums with similar age babies. This is a great way to meet other mums at the same baby stage as you. Ask your Midwife, health visitor, or local children's center if these are offered in your area.

    Your local children's center
    Children's centers often run lots of baby friendly groups some may be one off or drop in events and others may be short courses on topics such as baby massage. The staff there will also be knowledgeable about other local groups that would suit you and your baby.

    Facebook
    Most areas have a Facebook parenting group for your local town or area. Don't be afraid to ask for recommendations of good places to go with a newborn or places to meet other mums. You will likely find there are a whole range of baby and toddler groups going on for you to try. If you just have a new baby you might prefer to look for specific groups for under one year olds which will be less hectic than toddler groups and have other mums at a similar stage of parenting as you.

    Join a class 
    Although usually more expensive than drop in coffee mornings and more casual mum groups, signing up for a specific class can be a great way to meet other parents. There are lots to choose from including, baby massage, Baby Sensory, baby yoga etc. You'll also find that if you're booking on for a 6 week course of something that everyone will be 'new' and and few people will know each other already so starting conversations may be less daunting than going to an already established group. 

    Use your local library
    You may not have stepped foot in here for years (if ever!) but lots of libraries run sessions like baby rhymetime or storytime aimed at under one year olds. It's also worth remembering too that they're also incredibly parent friendly places so if you need to stop to breastfeed when out and about it's usually a great, free place to do so.

    Apps
    Using apps such as Mush are a great way to find other mums who are looking for friends your local area.

    Top tips!
    Be brave
    Be the person that initiates conversation or arranges for everyone to go for coffee after a class.

    Be a regular!
    Attending regularly will help you get to know people better and quicker.

    Look for groups for your age baby
    You'll likely find you have more in common with other mums at these groups. They're also much calmer and you'll find that mum's often have more time to chat here than when they're chasing after older children and toddlers! 

    how to meet other mums, breastfeeding blog, parenting blog, uk parent blog, uk parent blogger, breastfeeding clothes, nursing clothes, nursing clothing, nursing top, nursing tops, nursing dress, breastfeeding tops, breastfeeding tops, breastfeeding vests, breastfeeding dress, breastfeeding dresses

  4. I am 1 in 4: October is baby loss awareness month

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    October is one of my favourite months of the year, I love the subtle change in season that seems to creep in around about now, leaving the September sun behind and transitioning into misty mornings and earlier nights.

    The trees are desperately trying to protect and keep hold of their flame coloured leaves but, sadly they are pre-destined to fall and blanket the ground.

    Like those trees, 1 in 4 women feel the loneliness of ‘secret’ grief.

    Breastfeeding Blog and Parenting Blog

     

     have two beautiful and boisterous boys who fill my days with noise, dirt and infectious laughter and I’m due my third in a matter of days. BUT, this doesn’t mean that I don’t ever think of my other two babies that I never met.

    I am currently a very fragile mix of hormones, excitement and nervous energy as I wait for signs of my impending labour. This October feels very different for me, and I think that’s a good thing as it will be a birthday month, a reason to celebrate.

    Before I enter the craziness of caring for three boys aged 4 and under, I’d like to reflect and tell my story of losing the two tiny lives, that for a very small window of time, existed within my own body. Two little ones that I failed to protect and keep safe…one of the most basic requirements of being a mother.

    My Lost Pregnancy

    I always wanted a sibling for Stanley, I never envisioned him as an only child. So, when we found out we were expecting again I was naturally over the moon. I did exactly what I’d done with Stanley, a home test then doctors appointment to confirm, followed by my booking appointment with the midwife. I’ve never smoked, I stopped drinking as soon as that little blue line appeared, and took my folic acid daily.

    As the weeks crept by, we kept our little secret until the 12 week ‘safe zone’ was in sight. It fell around Christmas time so I made a plan (Ben just goes along with me when it comes to things like this…I’ve never been one to shy away from putting the effort in) to announce the pregnancy to close friends and family via a homemade Christmas card featuring my little Stan the Man.

    Breastfeeding Blog and Parenting Blog

     

    Everyone loved the announcement cards, who wouldn’t?…just look at Stanley all big smiles and tiny toes. Super cute!

    Christmas came and went, and we were thrust into the new year. I had been suffering from morning sickness, something I’d never experienced while pregnant with Stanley, and I felt ‘different’ not something I could put my finger on, just different. I knew I was carrying a boy from the start with Stan, just call it Mother’s intuition as I had absolutely no evidence whatsoever, until I was proved correct at the 20 week scan. This time however, I ‘knew’ it was a girl.

    *YOU MAY FIND THE FOLLOWING DETAILS UPSETTING*

    BUT, I want to write a truthful account of my experience.

    The Bubble Burst

    Then, on the 5th January my little pregnancy bubble was burst in the worst way possible. I was 14 weeks by now. I felt tired, weak and queasy. I rested and that evening after Ben had put Stanley to bed I lay on the sofa, and took paracetamol as I had back ache. Nothing too out of the ordinary, nothing to cause alarm.

    I needed the bathroom and stood up and that’s when I realised something was terribly wrong. I could feel a warmth running down my legs. I ran to the bathroom, leaving a trail of blood and a shell shocked hubby in my wake. I was numb, I knew what was happening but adrenaline took over and I went for the practical side of things, stripped off and sat on the toilet waiting for the initial ‘gush’ to subside. Except, it didn’t. I layered up thick maternity pads and quickly shoved on knickers and leggings. I remember telling Ben that we needed to go to the hospital (talk about stating the obvious) and asking him to ring my mum so she could come over to watch Stanley. I remember that I was yawning a lot, my ears were ringing and my vision was becoming tunnelled. Blood was still seeping through all my sanitary protection and out through my clothes, I couldn’t keep up with it.

    Blue Lights

    The next thing I remember is two first responders leaning over me, they were talking but I couldn’t hear them properly. Then paramedics burst in. I was put into the back of an ambulance and blue lighted up to the hospital. Ben had to stay until my Mum & Dad arrived because of Stanley. I remember hoping that he hadn’t been woken up with all the commotion. Afterwards, my Mum and Dad told me that they saw the ambulance come flying past them as they were heading to my house. Mum said it was awful knowing ‘her little girl’ was in there, which just goes to show that us mums never stop worrying about our children, no matter how old they are.

    If you’ve read my Pregnancy Ponderings post you’ll know that our hospital is roughly 15 miles away. I think that distance doubled that night as it seemed to take forever to get there. I was taken on the trolley into A&E and placed in a corridor with approximately 10 others. The paramedics left me and I was alone and waiting. Blood by now was seeping into the sheets and mattress I was lying on. I felt hugely embarrassed as it was painfully obviously where the blood was coming from…I felt ashamed. By this point I was getting cold and again must have fainted a couple of times. Then, Ben was stood next to me but I have no memory of him getting there.

    Part 1

    I was moved into an examination room. I’m a bit hazy on the details but I can remember telling the nurses that I was going to pass out. The bed was tilted back so that my feet were higher than my head. After answering a few questions I was transferred over to the Maternity Assessment Unit.

    Up until this point, nobody had mentioned, pregnancy, miscarriage, loss or the baby.

    Again, due to the lack of beds I was put in a chair and told we were waiting for a sonographer to become available. This was the point at which my heart broke and the tears came hard and fast. I knew what I was facing and deep down I knew that the scan wouldn’t pick up a heartbeat there had been too much blood….so, it just seemed unesscessarily CRUEL that I was now sat with only 6 flimsy curtains separating me from other mums to be, that were all hooked up to monitoring equipment.

    I could hear 6 happy and healthy heartbeats in stereo, it was deafening!

    I sat there with my baby that had probably already died, or was dying inside of me, still bleeding heavily and was forced to listen to the sound I was praying I would hear from my own womb. It was a relief to be called into the scan room. The scan was performed, the room was absolutely silent (a complete contrast to the corridor) nothing was said to us apart from the fact that they were keeping me in and I would be taken to the Forget me Not suite.

    Breastfeeding Blog and Parenting Blog

     

    Part 2

    Once settled into one of the rooms on the Forget-me-Not suite (charity based), I was introduced to Liz, one of the bereavement midwives who would be caring for me during my stay. This lady was love, care and sensitivity personified. She wiped my tears and stroked my head. I was still losing a lot of blood and she hooked me up to drips, binned my clothes and just generally saw to my needs without fuss.

    My nightmare wasn’t over by any means, just as I was feeling a bit more with it and had managed a cup of tea (so stereotypically British, but always readily available during a crisis). I needed the bathroom and with Ben’s help shuffled over to the en-suite, Liz had already advised me to leave the door open and that I wasn’t allowed to flush as they would check for clots etc. I can’t remember anything until I woke up back in the bed wearing an oxygen mask with an alarm blazing and approximately 20 medical staff around my bed including someone with a defibrillator trolley to my right. Liz was saying ‘STAY WITH US EMMA’ loudly and somebody was putting something cold into my arm, I felt it travel up my vein.

    I tried to look for Ben, Liz must have noticed as she told me he was here on the chair in the corner, and stepped aside so that I could see. The person I saw wasn’t my hubby, Mr Yorkshire and he of stern stuff and few words had gone…a small frightened figure, head in hands with grey skin sat in his place and it scared more than anything that had happened up to that point.

    I must have gone out again or perhaps I just fell asleep, I’m not sure as the whole thing is still foggy and a bit surreal to me now.

    The next time I woke, I felt better but weak and bone weary. Lifting my head off the pillow required energy I just didn’t have. My bloods and observations were done again. Consent forms were brought in and signed by Ben. Blood was ordered. I had no idea of the time or even what day it was by now. Still nobody had mentioned the baby or said the word miscarriage…I found this really strange and it all added to the dream like state I found myself in. As I regained strength my thoughts turned to my little boy at home, and I ached for him. Ben gave my Mum & Dad the all clear to visit with him. It gave me the boost I needed, nothing beats a cuddle from a toddler!!

    Mum, Dad, Ben and Stanley went home together late afternoon. Ben with instructions to bring in clothes for me…I had lost everything I had been wearing! I stayed in again overnight and slept like a baby inbetween the obs rounds. Liz popped in every now and again to check on me and to make me a cuppa, so that I didn’t have to leave my bed. She also found me a phone charger so that I could ring Ben and say goodnight to Stanley. It was the little things like that, that meant so much.

    Breastfeeding Blog and Parenting Blog

     

    The next morning, I was visited by a consultant and finally I was informed that my baby had died. I was also told that all the ‘foetal matter’ and ‘products of conception‘ had come away naturally and that I wouldn’t need a D&C thankfully.

    I was given leaflets on cremation and my rights to religious/humanist services etc, unbelievably I was looking at funeral arrangements for my baby. I signed the nesscessary consent forms and put them on the bedside table.

    By this point Ben had arrived back and we were waiting for my discharge to be arranged. Liz mentioned in passing that I’d haemorrhaged twice and lost a huge amount of blood causing me to go into Hypovolemic shock, which was life threatening and made some sense of the room full of people I’d witnessed.

    To this day, I don’t know if all this was explained to Ben as it was happening, because he’s never really spoken about it and I’ve never really pushed him on it. But, thinking back to the man I saw sitting in that room, I’m guessing he had a good idea of the state of play.

    Even now I find it hard to explain how I was feeling. I wasn’t overly upset, as in I wasn’t crying or showing any outward signs of distress. I felt ‘light’, my head felt fuzzy, my legs were like jelly. I felt numb. I wasn’t thinking about the baby I’d lost, I just desperately wanted to get home to the one I already had. I can’t describe how much I’d missed him. I was also worried about my Mum & Dad, they’d had to deal with a lot. I had a vague recollection of the state the house was in as I left, and I knew they’d would have had to clean all that up to protect Stanley from seeing it. I was also worried about the strain it had put on them, I was their daughter afterall and they’d just lost a grandchild too. Dad was also really poorly and receiving treatment for Leaukaemia…he’d been diagnosed a year ago to the day I took my ambulance ride, 5th January has not been kind to my family.

    On a lighter ‘it could only happen to me note’ Ben had forgotten to bring me any shoes up, so I had to walk out of hospital wearing just his socks and Ben was sockless under his boots. The ‘Clampets’ were finally going home!

    Home Sweet Home

    Once back, I rested up, sleep was my friend. Flowers and cards arrived. People said kind words, and wrote lovely sentiments. A couple of close friends (you know who you are ladies) brought a mix of homemade and convenience food…enough to fill the fridge and freezer, along with cake, chocolate, candles, an adult colouring book to keep my mind busy and took Stanley out…I can’t tell you how much that meant to me at the time.

    Most people, and I don’t mean this as a criticism, moved on as if I was never really pregnant in the first place. I found that quite difficult to deal with, although I completely understood that it hadn’t happened to them, and that life doesn’t just stop.

    Ben didn’t want to talk about it really, and that was his way of dealing with it all, which I understood too. It did us all good to get back to some normality, I suppose. In some respects I think he had the worst deal, he had already lost his unborn child and had faced losing his wife too. I can’t imagine how scared he must have been, I was in the thick of it and can’t remember much but Ben had witnessed it all, ALONE. I will never forget that solid unwavering support from the man who became the rock we all now cling to.

    He bought me a simple gift, and that said more than any upsetting conversations between us ever could. We had a cute, crazy toddler to love and look after so we muddled on together.

    Breastfeeding Blog and Parenting Blog

     

    There were physical after affects for me, I was given iron tablets and had to inject myself into my tummy for a month afterwards. Writing this now, 3 years on I don’t know what those injections were for. Which only goes to show that the whole thing left me a bit dazed and confused like I was there but at 50% opacity.

    My bloods have never been right since, I often have to take iron now and I have low blood pressure which then significantly drops in pregnancy.

    I hope I haven’t over shared and put you off, I wanted to give a true account of what I went through. It wasn’t nice and it certainly wasn’t pretty. I experienced two very different levels of care within the same hospital, I can’t remember the names of anyone who ‘handled’ me apart from Liz which just goes to show that kindness really is key to making a difference.

    Some people reading this will be my friends and family members and I’m aware that it might be the first time they will really have had the chance to understand what we went through. I felt like nobody wanted to talk about it, and I didn’t want to upset anyone so I naturally kept a lot of it to myself.

    The one thing I really regret is being so spaced out at the hospital that I never asked them if they knew the baby’s sex. I still feel angry with myself for that, even now. When I think of this baby though I always think of a girl but it’s hard not knowing for sure and it meant that we couldn’t name either.

    Pregnancy After Loss

    I went on to have James, my little ray of sunshine and whirlwind of mischief. My early pregnancy was tainted with the worry that I could lose again. I was naturally wary about telling people as I didn’t want to appear ‘foolish‘ if it didn’t result in a baby yet again…which sounds completely bonkers but I feel there’s still a level of embarrassment and failure associated with miscarriage.

    I’ve never referred to James as a ‘rainbow baby’ as has become the trend for babies born after a loss. I know people find comfort in the term (a rainbow being the bright and beautiful result of the sun shining after the storm has passed) but I wanted James to just be my little Jimbob in his own right and not attached to anything or anyone.

    Unfortunately between having James and my current pregnancy, I lost again. This time it was a completely different experience, but I was no better prepared.

    Round 2

    My much loved Dad passed away Aug 2017, after losing his battle with Acute Myeloid Leaukaemia…believe me, he had put up one hell of a fight.

    I was organising arrangements with my mum, James was 6 months at the time and Stanley was now 3. I felt a bit off but to be honest, grief and stress had played their part, and I was a bit run down.

    With everything that had been going on, I couldn’t remember when I’d last had my period and they were still a bit irregular after having James so I wasn’t concerned and never even gave pregnancy a thought.

    While at my Mum’s one day I had to go and have a lie down, I took paracetamol because I had stomach cramps and I slept for a few hours. I woke up feeling better and fully expecting to come on my period at anytime. Sure enough, I started bleeding and that was that.

    I bled heavily, but not uncontrollably for around 4 days. I put it down to a ‘nasty one’, we’ve all had them, the month that seems worse than the others and knocks you about a bit…nothing I couldn’t handle and thought it was my body getting back on track after having James. Towards the end I passed quite a few clots but again, nothing too drastic.

    The following day the bleeding had all but stopped and off I went to the supermarket to do a food shop, both boys in tow. I did the shopping, paid and went into the cafe because I felt a bit faint. After a hot drink and juice for Stan I felt better but had a numb feeling ‘down there’ I went into the disabled toilet, both boys (still strapped into the trolley) along with all the food came in with me…not the most hygienic but what choice did I have?

    I sat on the toilet and prepared to change my pad but there wasn’t really any blood on the one I was wearing. I then passed something, I stood up and looked into the toilet. I was looking at a very tiny foetus. I know this sounds completely unbelievable but it had an eye and was shaped like a kidney bean, there was nothing else it could have been.

    Breastfeeding Blog and Parenting Blog

     

    I swallowed the panic that had rose, along with the acid in my throat and got myself dressed. I wasn’t bleeding, apart from a few cramps and the weird numbness I wasn’t in any pain and I was in a supermarket toilet with two boys. I took a couple of photos, and then flushed the toilet. I washed my hands, left the toilet, packed the shopping and kids into the car and drove home.

    I did text the photo to my Mum and sister and also to Ben to get their opinions. I also googled to see how far along ‘it’ was.

    And, to my shame that’s all I really did about it, I rang my GP and requested a call back from the nurse. I explained what had happened. She said it sounded like a missed miscarriage, and that I should come in to get checked over within the next few days. I didn’t. I didn’t want to bring it all to the surface again plus I had bigger things to deal with on the horizon, namely my Dad’s funeral.

    Obviously, if I had started bleeding or felt unwell then I would have gone straight in but after the cramps had subsided that evening, I felt fine. So I filed it in my brain under ‘deal with it later’ and, that’s where it has remained until I wrote this post.

    Summary

    I’m now waiting on my third boy to make an appearance and throw our lives into chaos (in a good way) once again. This will be my last pregnancy and baby, marking the end of my ‘baby making’ years. Our family will be complete.

    Yet, I’m still in two minds whether to publish this post (it’s sat as a draft for a few days now, and I keep re-reading and editing bits). I still feel ashamed and guilty for losing my babies. I know that there was nothing I could do to stop it and that I did nothing wrong. But still, it niggles.

    I’ve told my story as part of the campaign to take the stigma away from miscarriage and still birth. We need to talk about it more and change the way we act.

    For more information, click the link below:

    Baby loss-awareness.org

    Sands charity

    #talkaboutit #breakthesilence #waveoflight #babyloss #miscarriage #infantloss #stillbirth #SANDS

    *******************

     

    Read more from Emma at: https://dirtdiggersanddinosaurs.com/

  5. The Mum Tum

    Posted on

    Breastfeeding Blog

    The mum tum is wobbly and wrinkled with rolls.

    The mum tum is saggy and stretched with folds.

     

    The mum tum can make you feel more self aware.

    “If I wear that tight top will anyone stare?”

     

    The mum tum can make us feel shame of our size.

    We squeeze into control pants what we want to hide.

     

    We are jealous of others who are only too happy to say

    They used to have a mum tum but then it went away!

     

    “Why is she so slim?”

    “What am I doing wrong?”

    All too often woman are singing this song.

     

    Stretch marks or tiger stripes, call them what you choose

    Either way scars are souvenirs that you never lose.

     

    A reminder of the unspeakable gift that you grew inside.

    A gift that is denied to so many who have tried and tried.

     

    A gift that you nourished, kept safe and warm.

    This gift never felt pain, shame, sadness or scorn.

     

    A gift that once in this world to them you became

    The most perfect being who could ever be named!

     

    Your mum tum was soft where they laid their head

    Comforted by your smell and the words that you said.

     

    The very fact that this miracle was born alive

    Is a blessing that to many is tragically denied.

     

    I hope you can see how special you are.

    How blessed you have been to have come this far.

     

    To have flourished new life in the depths of your being.

    To have been blessed with the growing reminder that you are daily seeing.

     

    It is an emotional journey becoming a mum.

    And the wonder of it all is so much more than your tum!

     

    So take comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone.

    When your child hugs your tum remember that was their first home.

     

    When you look in the mirror smile and feel proud

    For you have grown brand new humans for crying out loud!

     

    My body reminds me of joy and of loss.

    And how my arms ached for a baby I wanted whatever the cost.

     

    If the cost of a baby is a sag here and there

    I will take it and own it and see beauty there

     

    Your tum is a reminder of how far you have come

    On this miraculous journey of becoming a mum.

    xx

    ************

    Read more from Jo at https://freshbreadandfaith.wordpress.com/

  6. Your poor, poor mama shoulders!

    Posted on

    No one told me that one of the side effects of having a new baby was stiffness like all get out in the upper body and shoulders! It's chronic in the first few years. I remember being 5 or 6 months postpartum and catching sight of myself in the mirror: my shoulders were rounded and hunched forward, and I seemed to be working on a pretty impressive Dowager's hump for someone in their thirties. *grimace face*

    When we teach our regular postnatal workshops, this is a common complaint. The many hours we spend holding, rocking, cuddling, and milking our babes in the front plane of the body result in tiredness, tightness, and shoulder-rounding of epic proportions. One very useful pose to help iron out the shoulder space is downward-facing dog. But that pose alone isn't enough. And Lauren and I know how hard it is to roll your mat out in the early months of new motherhood (mine collected dust in the corner for a goooood while.)  That's why I LOVE these 3 moves, explained below: they take all of 10 minutes to do (at most), you can do them at the wall with no mat or other props, you don't need to be in yoga clothes, and they will honestly, truly, actually help your shoulders feel better / stronger / looser in all the best ways.

    STANDING WALL SHOULDER PULLS

    Breastfeeding Blog, breastfeeding clothes, breastfeeding dress, breastfeeding tops

    This may look deceptively easy, but it requires some muscular engagement. Stand facing a wall, close enough that you can let your head drop onto the wall. Bring your hands up, a little wider than shoulder width apart. Take a breath in, and as you exhale, contract the muscles in your arms and shoulders by pressing in with your hands and pulling DOWN, as if you were *trying* to slide your hands down the wall, but they don't actually move. You could contract and release with your breath a few times (inhale, soften; exhale, contract) or you could simply hold the contraction for a few rounds of breath.

    WALL CHEST STRETCH

    Breastfeeding Blog, breastfeeding clothes, breastfeeding dress, breastfeeding tops

    Stand next to the wall, feet parallel. Standing closer to the wall will result in more sensation, so if you need to go slower here, step a little farther from the wall. Reach your arm closes to the wall back and press it into the wall, palm facing in, thumb up. You can bring your other hand to the wall, in front of you (as I'm doing in the photo) or your can wrap your hand around your ribcage closest to the wall and gently pull your ribcage forward. That feels pretty nice. Stay here for anywhere between 5 rounds of breath to 2-3 minutes. Repeat on the other side. BONUS: tip your chin slightly up and away from the wall as you hold to get a sweet little neck stretch.

    DOWNWARD-FACING WALL PRESS

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    Stand facing the wall and fold forward at the waist, making your body into an L-shape. Walk your hands down the wall until they are parallel to your shoulders. (If your hands are higher up than your shoulders, there is more pressure on your rotator cuff which may feel a little pinchy.) Find softness in your knees or even bend them a bit, as I'm doing in the photos. In the starting position, keep your arms straight. You might squirm a bit here and do cat-cow movements with your spine or rock your hips side to side.

    For part II of this movement, inhale and begin to bend your elbows outward, pressing your hands into the wall. As you exhale, straighten your arms again, squeezing your shoulder blades toward one another as you do. (These are essentially down-dog wall push-ups!) Repeat between 5-20 times.

     

    When your shoulders need some love, opening, and attention, try this little sequence. Do you have another favorite move or pose for shoulder relief? (Aside from Netflix and wine; we already know about that one.) We'd love to hear your tricks, tips, and favorite poses for shoulder opening. And if you try this sequence and love it, let us know that, too!

     

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