Trika Mumma's Catch Up Post-Birth
It's been a while since we first touched in with our new mumma's at the beginning of their post-birth journeys and we wanted to see how they and their little ones were doing now. It's been so integral and special to have our community, sharing their stories, pearls of advice, baby clothes and just general support throughout these early years of parenthood, and we love sharing these with you too! We hope you find the below catch ups insightful...
Reflecting back on the last year, is there anything you wish you had been told about being a new mumma?
Yes, so many things! But you never know what kind of information you actually need, and you can't retain it if it's not about the stage you're currently in. Finding out how babies' sleep patterns work and change at particular times was amazing in terms of helping Ada to sleep through the night. I wish I had been told certain practical things like crazy waiting lists for nurseries and when to sign up to them. But the main one for me has been around weaning, which I found a real struggle. I kept reading blogs about getting the most nutritious food into your baby to help them develop and had all these homemade recipes. Actually, someone told me "you can offer lots of food and she may leave most of it, but that's her choice. When she's hungry, she'll eat." After that, I tried to stop worrying. I eat a lot of veg, so one day, I'm sure she will too, until then, I'll keep offering it and picking it up off the floor.
Now some time has passed since giving birth, how are you feeling physically?
Physically, I feel 95% the same as before. That other 5%? Well, let's just say, I wouldn't risk sneezing with a full bladder on a trampoline. But in all seriousness, I think my body will never be 100% the same as before becoming a mum, because I'm different now. I look at parts of my body in such a different way - not how I look, but how I managed to grow a baby, nourish my baby, entertain, hold and cuddle my baby. I'm so grateful that I am still strong and fit enough to keep up with her (although maybe not mentally!)
How do you feel your yoga practice has changed or remained the same since having a baby?
Yoga has become an absolute lifeline. I used to have other activities I could do when I needed to be mindful or de-stress, but now I find I don't have time to do all of them, so I have prioritised yoga. For me, it's what I need. Movement, especially during the breastfeeding months, time to be quiet, and savasana has taken on a new level of importance for me! I maybe only get to about 3 classes a week now, whereas before having a baby I sometimes did 2 in a day. I really enjoyed the calmer, slower classes in the early days, when everything felt like effort, but I've now built my strength back up to enjoy rocket again, which is one of my favourite classes at Trika.
Has being a mother informed the way you teach now at all?
Yes, I really realise now that you have no idea what's going on for other people, and often they won't tell me. When a couple of months pregnant, my nausea was so bad, I barely practiced yoga, opted out of a lot of poses, but hadn't told the teacher why. So the chances are, I might have someone in my class who is pregnant, or exhausted, stressed or just needing some time where they don't have a little person running around them. My classes are still strong, but the emphasis on rest at the end has become far more important than arm balances! It's all about balancing out the yang with the yin!
What's yours and Ada's fave activity to do together?
Dancing - always. Ada loves music. And she can't speak yet, or can't request songs, but I can tell how happy she is as soon as I put a tune on with a beat. She fist bumps the air and twerks and it's just adorable and hilarious in equal measures.
Hi Char, how are you? How is summer with a one and a half year old going?
I am very tired, not gonna lie! It is at the moment a constant juggle of energy, trying to balance everything out and finding time in there to remember things about yourself that has been put to the wayside for so long! 😅
We'd like to hear some of your thoughts on motherhood - what's it like navigating that shift in your own identity? Has anything taken you by surprise?
Motherhood is what I thought it might be like, coupled with everything that I had no idea of what it would be like, which I can understand might not make much sense, but that's a good analogy too perhaps 😀 One of the struggles of it is definitely identity - I recently read that it is a huge physiological change in your brain - for instance your volume of gray matter in your brain decreases to accommodate growing your uterus, your baby, all the change in child bearing, and I guess with some of that depleted + energy generally being depleted with all the other aspects of day to day and looking after the baby and family, it is the last thing down the list that you feel you have time for - your personal identity.
In this vein, it has taken me by surprise perhaps how long it's taken to even glimpse into finding the energy to consider who I am.. on another vein, it has taken me by surprise how much I love being a mother of this (not so little anymore!) baby, which I wasn't prepared for.
Do you have any advice for new mumma's in these first few years that you'd like to pass on?
Gosh! Hmm.. Actually one of the pieces of advice I enjoyed getting was that there's no advice possible in a way, because every bit of it will be so different for each parent(s) and their baby(ies)! However, with relating to non baby related advice, 1.5 years on, I do wish I knew earlier the importance of continuing taking supplements much longer after pregnancy + early postpartum times (like fish oil or a vegan substitute, multivitamins, B vitamins), and really as much as possible, eating more and as well as possible.
Pre-baby your practice and teaching was very much Ashtanga, and still is with Parent + Baby Ashtanga on the schedule now! Tell us about this class and if/how it reflects your practice as a mother now?
Actually Ashtanga, and the Mysore (self practice-ish) style we practice in this class with our babies really lends itself well! We leave the age range open for this, as we just want to expose our kids to being in the environment where we are practicing together, and it works so well. There so much room for personal modifications to postures, changing around the sequence of postures and how we do them - really taking into account each persons situation and energy that particular day. We individually stop when our kids need us, whether that be for a feed, nappy change, cuddle, to read, play...and then continue on in whatever capacity we can for the time we are together in class! It's light hearted, open but still has a general lovely structure to it as we practice!
It definitely is in a similar vein to how I manage to practice (when I find the time!), going with the flow, the energy that day, and just seeing what comes and for however short or long is feasible.
Firstly, how are you doing and feeling over a year after giving birth to Jay? What's life like with two young boys?
Life is wild and fast paced with two little ones. It's been nearly two years since giving birth to Jay and I'm enjoying feeling like I own my body again! I'm still breastfeeding and they both require much nighttime parenting so have sensitive energy levels which are best maintained with early nights and emergency naps. Physically, my body is feeling good. I'm still appreciating the deeper connection I have with my body from being pregnant, giving birth and postpartum healing. Emotionally I feel a bit fragile still being the infant years and coming out of the pandemic which I really struggled with. Right now I'm enjoying the simple pleasures of seeing friends without restrictions and being out and about with them both.
Having given birth before, was there anything different/surprising in your postpartum journey this time around and do you have any new wisdom to impart?
I definitely felt more relaxed second-time around, particularly around the expectations of sleep. I was open to chest-sleeping with Jay from the start, now knowing that biologically this is the place newborns feel safest and more likely to sleep, and was in no rush for Jay to sleep independently and knew that as hard it was in the depths of sleep deprivation, it would change. Yoga Nidra has always been my medicine and was a lifesaver in those earlier months when sleep was broken and unpredictable - this time around, going back to bed in the mornings for 20-30 minutes Yoga Nidra to refuel. I was even more gentle on myself physically and really took the time to holistically heal my body. In the early weeks I made sure I did a little bit of movement to reconnect and knit my abdominal muscles each evening and slowly built strength up using postpartum pilates and yoga practices. There was less of a rush to 'return' to longer / stronger yoga practices and running as I'd experienced the extended feelings of maternal depletion with Bodhi and knew I needed to preserve my energy levels for much longer than society expects. I'm still in that state, although feeling more energised, and intend to continue to check in with how I'm feeling and par things back if needed. My one piece of wisdom is to invest in yourself - babies really don't need much and you can get all the 'stuff' second hand. Instead, spend that money on a Doula, massage, chiropractor or a private postnatal check to assess your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.
Now you have more space to look back, how have you been making time for yourself over this past year? What have been your nourishing go-to's?
Ha! Not very well! But this has been a practice in adaptation and acceptance. Life with two who are only two years apart is tough and relentless. We do not have family or support in Bristol so it's all on me and my partner. I've had to let go of any expectation of having regular chunks of 'me' time as the disappointment each time it didn't happen was getting too much. As Jay has transitioned off of me and out of the sling, I've tried to incorporate a bit of movement and yoga into our days together. They both climb on me and often join in - it definitely isn't sacred time - but it feels good modelling what's important to me and integrating these practices into family life. I try to book something for me every 4-6 weeks for half a day or so. On a weekly basis I've been more organised in the evenings once the boys are in bed to maximise this time - a try to commit to one evening of deep rest, an evening with my partner, an evening of exercise and an evening or two of study each week. My nourishing go-to's are an extended restorative yoga practice with teachers I know and trust, running in the woods, reading with a coffee in one of Bristol's excellent cafes and a long salt bath with candles.
We'd love to hear more about what Jay loves to do - they grow up so fast but what are his current favourite activities?
Jay is the sweetest little guy. He's super agile like his brother - he loves climbing and jumping around, particularly at Hawks Gym club in Easton, he LOVES riding his balance bike and is an absolute cuddle monster. His favourite book is the Canadian version of Jingle Bells and he is the fastest ice cream eater in the family.