How 'power of yoga' helped first-time mum with postnatal depression

Kathryn and her son Ted.

Kathryn and her son Ted. - Credit: Jess Coppins

A first-time mum who struggled with her mental health after the birth of her son has learnt to teach yoga to other pregnant women to help them welcome their first baby.

Kathryn Lillingston's son Ted was born in October 2019 — arriving six weeks before his due date. 

Mrs Lillingston, who was in the middle of moving from Winchester to Needham Market at the time, was kept in hospital for a month with Ted after falling poorly.

She was thought to have sepsis, but luckily she was able to have Ted naturally.

Kathryn said yoga "got her through" many difficult parts of pregnancy and post-birth.

Kathryn said yoga "got her through" many difficult parts of pregnancy and post-birth. - Credit: Jess Coppins

However, the weeks and months that followed became increasingly difficult as her mental health began to suffer.

Mrs Lillingston said she was protective of her newborn, even before Covid hit in early 2020, as she thought he was "fragile".

"I was very anxious about leaving the house with him and it was a really difficult time," she said. 

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"I thought it was my fault he had come early and there was something wrong with my body, or I should have kept him more safe. I suffered from postnatal depression and it was quite a stressful and manic time."

Kathryn Lillingston teaches yoga and has recently started classes for pregnant women.

Kathryn Lillingston teaches yoga and has recently started classes for pregnant women. - Credit: Jess Coppins

By the time Ted was a year old he hadn't interacted with anybody else, apart from his dad and Mrs Lillingston's mum who was in their support bubble.

"Again it was that guilt thing, even though it was completely out of my control," she explained. 

The legal secretary said becoming a new mum was "completely overwhelming" on its own, without the added stress of not having completed on their home, moving to a new place and not having any friends around.

She was supported by the perinatal mental health team who she said were "incredible" and once her mental health began to improve she completed her pregnancy yoga teacher training.

Kathryn used yoga to help her through her postnatal depression, after son Ted came six weeks early.

Kathryn used yoga to help her through her postnatal depression, after son Ted came six weeks early. - Credit: Jess Coppins

She has been a qualified yoga teacher for four years, running classes part-time, and said her knowledge and experience of yoga was "often the only that kept her going" after Ted's arrival.

"Ted came six weeks early so when I went into hospital I wasn't ready mentally," she explained.

"I hadn't read all the books I wanted to and wasn't prepared for labour, but all I had was my yoga experience.

"I knew how to take control of my breath and I was just so in the zone. Once I'd given birth I thought 'I did that'. I let my body take over. 

"It really proved to me how powerful yoga was."

Kathryn Lillingston pictured with her son Ted at their home in Needham Market.

Kathryn Lillingston pictured with her son Ted at their home in Needham Market. - Credit: Jess Coppins

Now she is running yoga sessions for mums-to-be at Needham Gym, and also runs classes at Needham Lake when the weather is warm. 

She said her classes offer a safe space for new mums to share their experiences as they journey through pregnancy, while also giving them the social interaction that has been missing over the last year. 

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