How yoga helped me with the challenges of being a first-time mum
After a relatively smooth pregnancy, first-time mum Laura Della Guardia used yoga to help her with a difficult fourth trimester.
I’d been practicing yoga for well over ten years when I decided to take the plunge to become a yoga teacher, and almost a decade later, I have never looked back! My practice has evolved over the years, and so has my teaching. As a result of my growing passion to create community and provide support through yoga to mothers at every stage, I now largely focus on pregnancy and postnatal yoga. This is a snippet of my personal journey into motherhood and how yoga helped me navigate the transition of woman to mother.
I had a relatively smooth pregnancy and although it was mid-pandemic in 2020 and there were certainly some stressful points, I was overall relieved to not be running around the chaotic city and attending social obligations. I taught online and practiced yoga daily. I cooked (and ate!) a lot and caught up on movies in my queue. I really do attribute a lot of my easeful pregnancy to yoga and low-stress levels. After moving from San Francisco to London at 5 months pregnant, my bump had noticeably ‘popped’ and it was time to slow down even more. Gentle pregnancy yoga sessions, meditation and breathing exercises all kept me calm and focused on preparing for birth, meeting my baby, and becoming a mother.
A few days past my due date, whilst in the hospital, I was given an unexpected diagnosis of preeclampsia and gave birth 48 hours later via emergency caesarean. My 4th trimester was a whole different story from my idyllic prenatal journey. I suffered from depression and anxiety, partially due to such an abrupt turn of events and not being mentally equipped to handle my birth story as it unfolded. I will say that my husband and I kept our calm and focus, and I thank yoga for giving us the tools to do so even in the face of what seemed like a very hostile environment.
I had so much support around me from family and friends, an antenatal group of mums, and a doula, but the emotions of becoming a mother hit me like a ton of bricks and I needed professional help to get me out from under it. Combined with weekly help from a therapist, gentle visualization and breathing techniques, and postnatal yoga, my story of becoming a mother developed into one of resilience, joy, and love. It’s not that the challenge of motherhood had changed, it’s that I had shifted my mindset and am now able to navigate those challenges more calmly. I will be forever grateful for my ‘village’ of supporters and my yoga practice. I would do it all a million times over if it meant I could be the mama I am today to my precious little boy.
My mantra is: I am strong. I have courage. I am beautiful. I have faith. I am forgiving. I have patience. I am kind. I am mother. I am woman. I am.
Laura Della Guardia
Laura Della Guardia is an RYT 500 Advanced Yoga Teacher, Yoga Alliance certified, trained in Prenatal, Postnatal, and Mum and Baby Yoga.