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Using Yoga to Help Common Postpartum Concerns

Erin Howard

Hi There! Co-founder Melissa here continuing a great chat with Mary Barnes, director of Baby&Me yoga at PURE Yoga in New York City.  In my practice, I was frequently asked about pelvic floor strength and diastasis recti at postpartum visits.  I found that these concerns were best addressed by a multi-disciplinary approach, which is why so happy to get Mary's expert take on these common concerns.  

gbgm: In my midwifery practice, I am often asked about how to prevent or treat diastasis recti.  What yoga poses or practice can you recommend to help.  Is there anything you recommend against that would aggravate the separation?

M: During Prenatal Yoga we do a number of transverse abdominal exercises to help try to minimize diastsis recti.  I ask the students to cough once or twice in order to define this deepest layer of the abs.  Then we do a thirty-second hug, inhaling to expand expand the abdomen, then exhaling to hug their baby to the spine; holding the abs as we count out loud to 30 (counting so they don’t hold their breath.)  I tell them that I’m going to ask them to hug their baby to the spine when we’re doing a pose that works against gravity, such as plank pose, to make sure they don’t inadvertently push out against their abdominal wall, and to help support their back.  At the end of class we do one more exercise, hugging the baby to the spine, and then adding a slow, repetitive pulse on each exhale.  I suggest the moms do 100 everyday until they have their babies, picturing how much circulation is moving into all the layers of muscles as well as their organs and glands.  The muscles stay healthy and strong rather than atrophying for 9+ months.  I ask them to picture how their top layer of muscle, the rectus abs, which often separate during pregnancy (diastasis recti) are being patterned back together on each exhale.  Ultimately I suggest that some of them will be able to access this muscle memory when it’s time to push their babies during stage 2 of labor, if they deliver vaginally.  Lastly, I suggest they work at reconnecting their kegel muscles and their transverse within 24 hour of giving birth in order to help the healing process and help them regain their inner strength from the start (“do it every time you feed your baby”) instead of waiting 6-weeks+ until they get back to class.  I also tell the women not to “jack knife” onto their backs and up, because everyone tends to push out against their abs, which can cause more separation.  Instead I ask them to roll onto their side and then onto their back...coming up from the side and using their hands to press up.  They can also hug their baby while they transition in and out of poses, or out of bed going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or when they are picking up their toddler, etc.

gbgm: In many other countries, like France, women are allotted pelvic floor physical therapy after a delivery.  Unfortunately in the USA, many insurances do not cover this treatment.  What poses can women do to aid in pelvic floor strengthening?



M: Kegel exercises, engaging from the tailbone in back to the pubis in front, so they try to engage and lift their whole PF, are important.  Some women find that being in a position with the hips lifted, like a supported bridge pose, taking the weight off the PF can be helpful.  They can do an “elevator” variation, lifting the PF upward for 4 counts on an exhale. Holding, then releasing down the elevator on an inhale.  In class we sometime do “toe-ga” in order to strengthen the arches of the feet which have weakened during pregnancy (PF and arches of the feet have a connection: try standing up in tadasana, lift and spread your toes and become aware of your inner body/pelvic floor and lower abs. Then let your feet collapse and see what happens...



If someone has pelvic floor discomfort or can’t tell if they’re lifting their PF or not, I refer them to Physical Therapists who special in this.

Come join us December 11 at PURE West at noon.  Link to sign up here:

Can't wait to see you!


Baby&Me Yoga with Mary Barnes

Erin Howard

It is a big week over here at goodbody goodmommy! We are teaming up with PURE Yoga and Mary Barnes to offer a very special Baby&Me Yoga and Mom's brunch event December 11.  The practice of yoga is beneficial to new moms in so many ways. Yoga will allow you to focus on pelvic floor and core strength, which is so important as your body recovers from your delivery.  Being a new mom also presents so many new life changes. Moms are constantly giving and often are not sure how to balance all of life's demands. Having yoga practice allows you time to refuel your tank, use your breath and strengthen your body. 

goodbody goodmommy has come to know Mary through a dear friend and it is our honor to introduce her.   She is kind and gentle -- but come ready for a work out girls!! 

Co-founder Melissa was able to chat with Mary about her practice and things moms can do to prepare for labor and delivery and the postpartum period.  Here's their chat --

gbgm:  How long have you been practicing yoga?  What inspired you to work with mothers? 

M: I’ve been practicing yoga since the late 1980’s, and began teaching in 1990.  I originally worked in Corporate Marketing, and taught a few classes and privates per week after my yoga teacher asked me to train to teach for Urban Yoga.  I began teaching full time, and focused on Prenatal and Baby & Me Yoga after the birth of my first son in 1993.  There weren’t many prenatal yoga and mom & baby yoga classes available; and the prenatal yoga I attended wasn’t a workout, and seemed to focus too much on what NOT to do in a yoga practice.  I’ve worked with as many yoga teachers, fitness professionals and OB/GYN’s in order to build up my knowledge for working with pregnant women, couples (Yoga for Labor & Delivery), and new mothers---focusing on what a woman CAN do to enhance her life during pregnancy and parenthood. I subsequently trained extensively in Anusara Yoga, an alignment oriented and heartfelt style of yoga, with a strong emphasis on therapeutics.  I began holding Yoga for Pregnancy, Yoga for Childbirth, and Postpartum/Baby & Me Teacher Training in 2001. I’ve taught at many locations in NYC over the years, and started the Prenatal and Postpartum Programming at Pure Yoga East and Pure Yoga West when they opened in NYC in 2007.

gbgm: What are the corner stone messages you try to bring to pregnant and post partum mothers through your teaching and practice?

M: I think women need to be strong during pregnancy, childbirth and in the early months of motherhood.  In my invigorating, flowing prenatal and baby & me yoga classes we balance effort and surrender in order to create resilience. We practice turning inward, becoming aware of getting our bearings from the inside out, focusing on deepening and lengthening the breath, with the intention of creating physical, mental and emotional strength and clarity.

gbgm: Decreasing stress and fear in labor is so integral to labor progress.  What are some poses women can practice to use at home for comfort and to decrease fear during the latent, or early, phase of labor? 

M: During our Prenatal yoga classes I work in some poses like hip circles, seated with the bottoms of the feet together, or circling on the forearms and knees, or standing at the wall, while adding low soft sounds:  “sssss”, “mmmmmm”, “ahhhhh”, “ooooo”. Low sounds are really effect for drawing out the breath. Low sounds also relax the pelvic floor muscles.  We create an awareness of how many breath cycles we have holding a pose for 1 minute (approx. length of a contraction).  The fewer breaths per minute, i.e. the deeper the breath, the greater the endurance in a yoga practice and the higher the pain threshold during Labor & Delivery.  The deep breath can bring on the “relaxation response” rather than “fight or flight response” of the autonomic nervous system.  So even if one is feeling fear or discomfort, consciously deepening the breath can bring on endorphins, or feel-good hormones, and oxytocin, which increase the pain threshold and drives the labor, rather than stress hormones which can cause a labor to stall.  We hold endurance poses like chair pose at the wall for a minute, inviting students to close their eyes, and try the low sounds to see if it helps them hold the pose longer.  Movement and sound are very helpful during labor, at home and in the hospital.  We also practice closing the eyes in certain poses, getting the bearing from inside rather than the walls that surround them---this is really helpful in the unfamiliar setting of the hospital, allowing them to stay in the flow of their breath and and the blue print their body has for bringing new life into the world.  

gbgm: Being a new mom can be very stressful.  How can practicing Baby&Me yoga help decrease stress and refuel your tank?

M: I encourage the new moms (and sometimes dads attend too!) to remember to take something back for themselves everyday, so that they have that much more to give to their babies and families.  During Baby & Me Yoga we have two rows of mats for the moms, and we place the babies on yoga blankets in front of the mats down the center.  Itell the moms that it’s OK if their babies make sounds; they can take a break from the yoga if they need to feed or change their baby.  We start with the transverse pulse, lifting the PF, 30 pulses in order to tap into the connection between PF and abs.  Then we do some abdominal exercises, and I check new moms for diastasis recti.  After that we start flowing letting the babies watch their mom do yoga and the other babies. I ask the moms to focus on deepening their breath, and hearing their breath (ujjiyi breath) so both they and their babies can step into the flow of the breath.  I also suggest that they take this breath off the mat and do it when they feed or hold their babies.  We do some baby Yoga, massage and songs when the babies get restless.  Then wefinish with the moms doing some floor work, often while they feed their babies, then onto their backs on a bolster for a restorative pose before they go back out to the rest of their day.  A lot of the moms tell me they’ve bought a yoga bolster to do this at home when their baby naps...

Packing Your Labor Bag with Melissa

Erin Howard

So many times when I was on labor and delivery, I would see couples walk in with so many suitcases. I swear they had college applications in those bags! In New York City, thats probably not far too from the truth. Once we packed everything in the labor room, people barely had a place to sit down! There is one thing I can promise you, the hospital has everything you need to have a baby, so not to worry.  Here is a list to help you know what is essential -- so your husband is not left at the nurses station like this . . . 


I wanted to start with what NOT to bring when you are in labor to help your trip to the hospital be as easy as possible.  

1.  Car seat. This is the most common mistake. You don't need this until the day you bring the baby home. It will just take up space in the labor room.

2.  Diapers, wipes, onsies and receiving blankets.  The hospital will have plenty of these.  Don't risk loosing your lovely new baby clothes and gifts.   Sometimes nurses, doctors and care technicians will place dirty baby clothes in the hospital hamper by accident.

3. Pads. The hospital has ALL THE PADS.  Save yours for home.

4. Your favorite pillow case.  Bringing your favorite pillow is great for comfort, but please don't bring your monogrammed pillow cases.  The hospital staff will feel horrible if it gets ruined.

5.  Underware. Labor and delivery and postpartum units the world over have what I like to refer as Victoria's deepest secret.  They are mesh and one size fits all.  Honestly, they are pretty comfortable! 

So here is a small list of things that will really help with your labor.  When in doubt, keep it simple!

1. Birthing ball. Bring it in deflated and inflate in the hospital if possible.  It helps you have less to carry.

2. A great playlist with a mix of soft relaxation as well as energetic songs for pushing.  My favorite song to start pushing to is "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross!

3. Essential oils and coconut oil - aroma therapy is so helpful.  Your favorite scent mixed with coconut oil is great for relaxation.

4. Travel size of your favorite toiletries

5. Vasoline for lips. Read my lips. Hospitals are DRYYYY. I carried vasoline around in every lab coat and scrub pocket. Don't get stuck with only a sticky lip gloss in your bag!

6. Ginger candy.  In labor, women tend to get nauseous. Ginger helps with nausea and fights that horrible post throw up taste.

7.  Robe and slippers. I'm not one to advocate bringing nice things to the hospital or birth center, but having something cozy that feels like home is a plus. I do always give the warning that it shouldn't be your most favorite in case it gets lost or ruined. An inexpensive robe and slippers for the hospital is a good registry item, or mom to be gift many don't think of.

8. Microwavable heating pad.  Heat is so helpful for muscle aches and pains. It also is helpful to achieve let down if you are engorged.  I recommend a heating pad with a washable cover.

9. The multitasking cardigan.  Obviously!

Have a bag packed at home that contains you and your baby's "going home" outfit that your partner can bring to you on the day you go home.


Hope this helped!



How To Use Your Multitasking Cardigan with Co-Founder Melissa

Erin Howard

Hi There!

Bringing this Multitasking Cardigan to market has been one of the most exciting journeys of my life.  The first night I met with Erin to discuss what would eventually become goodbody goodmommy, I came home to my husband and said "I'm going to make maternity clothes!" And we were off . . .

Erin and I didn't let the fact that we do not have experience in the fashion industry deter us.  Our unique mom-midwife point of view led the way as we went from sketch book to sample and we quickly grew our list of priorities.

First, we chose a beautiful modal jersey that has a cozy feel and a luxe look.  Next, we wanted moms with growing families to see this garment as an investment.  The Multitasking Cardigan can take you from pregnancy to baby wearing, nursing and beyond with the simple loop design you see in this video.  We carefully chose to manufacture right here in NYC, so we could be involved in every step of the way.  Lastly, women need a garment that could be styled perfectly with anything in your wardrobe for any occasion and eliminate the need for an extra cover or blanket

We can't wait to see how well you all multitask!!




Transition Your Multitasking Cardigan to a Nursing Cover With Co-Founder Erin

Erin Howard

The idea for The Multitasking Cardigan came from a very simple, yet personal place. Sometimes, I like to use a nursing cover. Not always - there are plenty of situations in public where I feed my babies without ever wanting or caring to cover up. But sometimes I just feel more comfortable when I have the option of a cover.  However, like most moms, my diaper bag is always filled to the MAX. Wipes, multiple sizes of diapers, some make-up, snacks (for me and kids), epi pen, benydryl, socks (huh?), teething rings and random toys from happy meals in case of "emergency." (An emergency being when my son freaks out while I'm trying to buy underwear.)

When Melissa and I chatted about nursing, she also encountered woman who sometimes wanted to cover up, but hated their current market options. 

So we said, what if we made a nursing cover that was truly part of your outfit? Not just an accessory, but something that could seamlessly be incorporated into your wardrobe, and be dressed up OR down. And wouldn't it be great if that cover would also fit when you're pregnant AND when you're done nursing - and look just as cute in ALL THREE situations?

We got out some colored pencils and got to work. We designed a cardigan that we believe achieves all of these things. It's made from a beautiful modal jersey. Wear it over a dress to a night out, wear it to and from Soul Cycle. The fitted sleeves give you a streamlined look when you're pregnant - so it's only roomy where you're roomy - not everywhere. This also ensures that it's still flattering when you're back in your skinny jeans. The button-and-loop system that turn it into a nursing and babywearing cover are so simple - yet totally hidden. So even if you want to use them, its easy and quick. But if you don't, you're just wearing a regular, beautiful, flowy cardigan that happens to have superpowers. Just like you my mom friend. JUST LIKE YOU.

If you want to know how to use the cardigan's superpowers, we put together this little tutorial with my mini-me's. Enjoy!




3 Ways to Style Your Multitasking Cardigan This Fall

Erin Howard

Happy Fall!!  Its time for decorative gourds and layering fall fashion.  The goodbody goodmommy Multitasking Cardigan will be a staple in your closet.  We have paired The Multitasking Cardigan with our favorite blush tee and our own goodbody goodmommy belted running pant (coming soon!) to display 3 fall looks -- trendy, athletic and classic.  We understand that when you are pregnant, you still want to wear some of your favorite pieces.  This video will help you grow your bump style with things you have right in your closet.  


Erin & Melissa

Breastfeeding 101

Erin Howard

     Hi there!  Co-founder Melissa here to follow up Erin's beautifiul self account with a little breastfeeding 101.  As a mom-midwife duo we share many nursing expereinces between the two of us.  We have spent endless nightshifts on labor and delivery helping new moms nurse for the first time.  We have navigated through nursing our own children.  We have encouraged a friend to feel comfortable the first time she nurses in public and offered support without judgement when a patient makes a difficult nursing decision.  At goodbody goodmommy we have infused these experiences into creating the multitasking cardigan, knowing that every baby feeding journey should be supported.

     The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age.  Then continuing to breastfeed for up to one year while complimentary foods are being introduced.

     Understanding how much milk a newborn needs is always easier when we can see exactly how much the baby needs.  We have always been amazed by how fast a baby’s belly growsand hope this chart helps you as much as it has helped us!

Breast Milk Supply

     Prolactin is the primary hormone responsible for stimulating the mammary glands.  After you meet your baby, estrogen and progesterone levels fall, thus allowing prolactin to do its job.  When your baby sucks, it promotes prolactin as well as oxytocin.  This means that your baby sucking will dictate how much milk you make. 

     Many people recommend many different foods and herbs called “galactogogues” to stimulate milk production.  Fenugreek and milk thistle are frequently recommended as they do have an existant, although small, body of research supporting their use.  Keep in mind, use of herbal supplements should always be done under the guidance of a provider.  Goodbody goodmommy feels confident recommending oatmeal, brown rice, salmon, asparagus and hummus for helping with milk production.  These foods are all so yummy and part of a great balanced diet for new moms anyway.

      Breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your baby and give your baby great nutrition as well as immunity from common ailments.  Have confidence in yourself through this process.  If for some reason, breast isn’t best for you — or you find that pumping and giving your baby your milk through a bottle is what works for you — we support you!

Reflecting for World Breastfeeding Week

Erin Howard

Hello friends! This is goodbody goodmommy co-founder and CEO, Erin. As World Breastfeeding Week comes to a close, I’ve thought long and hard about what to say concerning my own breastfeeding journey. Should I give advice? Share successes? Struggles? Disappointments?  I’ve spent the last four and a half years either pregnant or breastfeeding; I’m currently nursing my third and possibly last baby. I’ve had plenty of each of the above.

As this blog evolves, I’m sure I’ll share many personal accounts that will touch on each of these topics. But for today, I thought I’d be honest, and share just a bit of WHY breastfeeding is so important to me. What I’ve gained – and what I get – from this journey.

When I pregnant with my first daughter, I knew little about breastfeeding. I had few friends who had children, and those who did never lived close when they had kids. I wasn’t sure how long they breastfed for, why they did, or in some cases, if they even did. A little in the dark, I did some research, took a class, read some blogs. I decided to breastfeed my daughter first and foremost because I believed it was what was best for her.

But soon, it evolved into something much more for me. Breastfeeding was, and is, the one thing that only I can give my children. At some point, these kiddos won’t need – or want – my constant attention, guidance, reassurance, comfort. As I look at my newest baby, this thought makes me so sad. So I am 100% OK with the fact that I love breastfeeding her because it is one thing that only I can do for her. That its our time together. That I have to stop paying attention to whatever else I’m doing to feed her. To cuddle with her, to hold her, to stare at her. No matter where we are, I have a built-in excuse to take time out of my life and focus on this amazing human I’ve made.

I often hear women say that they miss nursing. Now that I’ve stopped nursing two of my three children, I understand what they mean. It’s not the engorged breasts or the leaking they miss. It’s that sense of being needed SO MUCH by someone else. Knowing that you’re providing everything that baby needs. It’s that time alone with their baby. It’s that built-in excuse to hold your baby and reflect on how lucky you are to have that baby.

I joke that I breastfeed because I’m a baby hog. But, it's kinda true. And I’m pretty A-OK with that. Because one day soon, this baby will look at me just as my other two do now, and say “Mommy, I do it myself.” And they won’t be my tiny little babies any more.  

We look forward to learning more about you, and having many discussing around breastfeeding on this blog. Thanks for supporting goodbody goodmommy!

Meet our Models

Erin Howard


At goodbody goodmommy we believe real moms with real bodies are beautiful.  We chose to show our cardigan on these beautiful women to model every size.




Say hello to Hillary!  Hillary makes bras for Aerie and works together with people all around the world.  She is passionate about delivering the best she has to offer and is currently working on her best project yet — a baby!!  While being a first time mom may scare her a little, we know that her patience, practicallity and some girlfirends will help her along the way.  This baby has some great times in store for them because Hillary is known for throwing a great theme party that is sure to end with a Beyonce dance revolution!  Hillary is 35 weeks pregnant and modelling a size large.





This is Kylie, a fit mom to 5 month old Ryder and wife to her high school sweetheart.  She will tell you that becoming a mom has been the best thing that has happened to her, but her first skydive is a close second!  While she says being a Mom has made her a better person, we would argue that she has always been pretty awesome.  Kylie finds creative ways to balance her work outside the home functioning as a team leader, her life as a new mom and her love of running.  We’re tired just typing it all! She is modeling a size small.





Hello Kristen!  Kristen is mom to 3 year old Reese with another princess on the way in just 5 weeks!  She is a mom, wife and midwife all rolled into one!  Kristen loves being a midwife and says she “couldn’t think of anything better than empowering women and taking care of children every day.”  She is almost fluent in Spanish and devoted to speaking it every day with her patients.  Don’t let her quiet kindness fool you — this girl was challenged to a dance off in her wedding gown — and WON!  Kristen is modeling a small




Hello there, Melissa — our co-founder and CCO.  She is a midwife who is dedicated to providing care without judgement with a passion for family planning.  Her ability to combine fashion forward trends and fabrics with a supportive design is what gives goodbody goodmommy a creative edge.  Melissa belives that spin class and rose nights with girlfriends are mandatory.  She lives in Jersey City with her husband, who she met in an elevator!  Melissa is modeling a size medium.




Meet our co-founder and CEO, Erin.  This avid runner and PR maven searched high and low for the perfect garments to support her changing body during her first and second pregnancies.  After the market came up short, she did what any strong willed woman does when they see a problem, finding a solution by creating goodbody goodmommy.  Erin lives on the Jersey Shore with her husband and three children - Laurali, Brian and Baby Abby.  Erin is modelling a size small.