Where’s your village? Finding community during the prenatal and postpartum period

By Tina Goldstein

When I was 4 weeks pregnant, I took my first prenatal class. Although a long-time yogi, I had never been to Bend + Bloom before and I came to the class because I was curious to know the differences between a prenatal yoga practice as compared to a “regular” yoga practice. I walked into the large studio in the back and was shocked to see a packed room of perhaps 30 moms in all stages of pregnancy but who seemed predominantly in third trimester. Lara led the class in sharing how they were feeling, and as we went around the room, I was struck by how open and funny the women were. There was a lot of laughter as the group found commonality in their situation. I still remember a woman who was 39 weeks pregnant saying, “I feel ok, except for the shooting pains in my vagina!”

When it finally got to be my turn to speak, second to last in the room, I said I was “4 weeks pregnant and in awe of every single one of you” and everyone laughed. We went on to do a gentle, but very active practice, and I was amazed at how hard these women, who looked to me like they would be giving birth soon, were working and moving and stretching. I felt a powerful sense of strength and support, that these women were there for each other as a community. A couple of months later, I started prenatal yoga teacher training.

Fast forward to about a year later, and at 6 weeks postpartum, I was cleared to go back to yoga. I had been impatiently waiting for the day not only to get back to my practice, but to be with other people! It was a very cold winter, and I had been mostly sitting on my couch for 6 weeks attached to my little one. It was truly an achievement to get out of the house to that class every Friday and it took 24 hours of gearing up to get there. One week, I arrived at the studio, determined as always to get there on time, and I checked in for class. The woman behind the desk looked a bit confused when I said I was there for Mommy & Baby class and said, “Ok…but it doesn’t start for another hour and a half!”

One Friday, another mom who I had practiced next to a few times, told me that a group of moms were going out for lunch after class, did I want to come along? I was so excited that I could have kissed her! To feel included and to spend time with other women who were going through the same things as me, in a restaurant no less, seemed so momentous and validating. I needed it.

I continue to be friends with some of the women that I met in prenatal and postpartum yoga. Our children play together and attend school or art classes together. We run into each other at the Park Slope Food Co-op or at the playground. We text when we have a question about an illness or want to know what school is first choice for kindergarten. These women have become my village.

The New Parents’ Meetings (at Bend + Bloom, on Tuesdays at 1pm) in a way are the outgrowth of the sharing portion of the Mommy & Baby class. They provide an opportunity to talk about what may be coming up for the new parent, be it sleep or breastfeeding issues or the new roles as parents and the challenges of that adjustment. It’s also a great way to meet other women, make friends, hear what others are going through and a great reason to get out of the house. In other words, it creates community. It’s wonderful to watch women meeting for the first time, providing support to one another and then showing up to a meeting together a few weeks later.

The friends you make during this precious time in your life may indeed become your village, supporting you as your child grows and life continues to transform.

Tina Goldstein is a pre/postnatal yoga teacher, mother of a preschooler and is working toward her postpartum doula and breastfeeding counselor certifications. She also facilitates the New Parents’ Meetings. Her passion and fascination with all things moms, babies and kids has put her on the path of providing open-minded support to her clients and students whatever their choices may be.