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My Journey Into Motherhood

Today on the blog, I wanted to get a little more personal. In my business, I talk a lot about the benefits of yoga and mindfulness for mental health during pregnancy and postpartum and it only feels right to share about my own experiences within that space and how these practices have been so essential.

Becoming a Mother

If you're not familiar with me, I'm Charlotte, the founder of Mama Time Yoga. Like many people, my journey into motherhood has been unique. Nine years ago I became a step mother to my incredible step daughter, Maia. She was three years old at the time and I was 22 so it was a big adjustment from prior lifestyle, which was completely self centred.

Although I've always been fully committed to being the best step mom I can for her, I never really felt like I was truly part of the "mom club" before the birth of my sons. I tried to tread lightly and avoid overstepping any boundaries in this role, but I also felt very different from my friends without children. Even though, I didn't feel like I could completely wear the mom badge, after nearly six years as a step parent, I did feel like I had a fairly good understanding of being a mother.

When I became pregnant with my oldest son, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved being pregnant. I had never felt more connected to and proud of my body. Carrying my little man inside of me felt like the biggest blessing and experiencing life in the fullest way. My yoga practice really softened during this time and I focused on slowing down in a very intentional and nurturing way.

After spending the majority of my pregnancy on google, attending pregnancy circles and taking birthing classes that aligned with the kind of birth I wanted, I was set on having a natural water birth at our local hospital. However, due to Henrik being on the larger side (95%), this is not how things played out. After a lot of back and forth with the hospital, we agreed to an induction at 39 weeks which meant no water for the birth and after 14 hours of active labour, resulted in a C-section.

The Fourth Trimester

You'd think that I was really distressed after having a birth that was completely different to what I'd so carefully crafted as the perfect birth, but the truth is that I did not care one bit. Quickly after Henrik's birth, I realised that the birth is only the beginning and I still had a huge learning curve to overcome in regards to caring for a newborn.

If I could go back and tell myself one thing in my first pregnancy, it would be to focus more on what happens after the birth than the pregnancy or birth itself. I really struggled to establish breastfeeding with Henrik and felt like such an incredible failure when the midwife that came to see us that first week told me he wasn't gaining enough weight even though I felt like I'd been feeding him non stop. I was the most exhausted I'd ever been, emotional and dreading every time I heard his hungry cries. We figured out breastfeeding eventually (thank you angel lactation consultant) and he continued to chunk up nicely, but it felt like there was constantly something new to learn around sleeping, schedules, milestones, etc. I began over thinking everything and feeling so inadequate in a lot of areas.

Yoga & Mindfulness in Motherhood

It was at this point in early motherhood that I was so incredibly thankful for all of the yoga and mindfulness work I'd done in the past because I was leaning on it hard to preserve what was left of my sanity. My yoga practice was incredibly gentle in early postpartum and was mostly counter stretches to help relieve my back and upper body from the awkward postures and tensing up I did while trying to feed Henrik. Calming breath work and guided meditations, that I almost always fell asleep to, were the practices I used the most during this intense period of the first 6 or so weeks as a mother.

Now with a 12 year old, 3 year old and 5 month old, I am learning that these mindfulness tools are essential through every stage of motherhood. Motherhood is gritty and it takes resilience and while each new stage brings something beautiful and fun, it also brings more things to learn about, worry about and add to the already overflowing mental load. It sadly never stops.

Having a regular yoga and mindfulness practice helps me to be able to calm myself down in triggering moments (hello toddler tantrums) so that I can (usually) react the way I think is best and make decisions with a clearer head. After a good meditation I usually can see the big picture better and realise that the thing I'm worried about is just a stage that will pass and not that big of a deal and if it is, it is figure out-able.

Simply put, these practices allow me to come back to myself to be the parent I want to be. This is why I love sharing yoga and mindfulness with other mothers because they are the backbone of the family and when they are empowered with tools to support them to feel their best, the whole family benefits so greatly.

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