This is a long one...
Lately, I’ve been working with a lot postpartum clients who are feeling discouraged about the state of their bodies and I 100% relate. Then today, one of my favorite Women’s Health PTs, Rachel Parotta, shared a post about her 1st and 2nd postpartum recovery that I felt right away. It inspired me to say a few things…
I like to share the reminder that that time is a bridge. A bridge you have to walk over to properly learn this new body. I used to say “let’s reconnect with your pre-baby body”, but that’s not really the goal and way less realistic than getting acquainted to THIS one. Your body really is new, but new doesn’t mean bad!! I have actually gained a lot of strength and knowledge about my body after kids – WAY more than I had before kids.
What I struggled with and I see if frequently in early postpartum sessions, is the frustration of working really hard during pregnancy to stay strong and then still feeling so lost in your postpartum body. It’s really kind of unfair that we train so hard during pregnancy to strengthen the certain muscles for stability and to stay strong and still feel so weak after having babies. I say it often that even if you did an hour long strength workout right before you went into labor, your muscles will still turn off during the process. Pregnancy and birth take a major toll on your body and it’s really kind of silly that we expect it to perform exactly the same after growing life. Your organs completely shift inside your body, your pelvic floor bears so much more weight, and then you have to get the baby out of your body. Things take time to resettle, and even then, it can be hard to find a connection to your body.
I think there is a lot of mental, physical, and emotional healing that comes with motherhood. Keep a human alive, avoid judgement for doing anything your own way, navigate a partnership at the same time, prepare to get back to work, etc, etc, etc, you might also be healing from a variety of birth challenges! I, quite frankly, didn’t have any major L&D challenges to mention and I still had a lot of things I was trying to figure out in my own body. I also think we need to skip the narrative about how we should just be so proud because our body grew life and delivered a baby. We should for sure be proud! I feel like the biggest badass for having babies. On the other side, it doesn’t mean that someone who is navigating a changed body, but possibly experienced loss, should feel shame. I also don’t think we should shame a mom who wants to feel strong and connected with her body after birth, by insinuating that she doesn’t feel proud.
My mental health took a major hit when I was learning how to be a mom, wife with a baby, and had no clue who I was. I felt disconnected and weak in all facets. When I started to regain my physical strength and feel capable in what my body could do, I was a better mother. For some people, finding their pre-baby weight is very important to how confident they feel and I don’t think that should be shamed. I think we should be encouraged to do whatever the hell we need to feel the best about ourselves.
If you require someone to assist you by way of PT, bodywork, or a personal trainer who specializes in postpartum recovery, please know that that is nothing to be ashamed of. I actually find it very commendable that you’re taking efforts to learn and care for this new body in a mindful and proactive way. It took me a few years too many to seek my own care (despite preaching to the masses that everyone should!) I wish that kind of postpartum care was more normalized and accessible for everyone, because it’s so, so important.
I needed the mental assistance with baby #1 and the PF assistance with baby #2. Both types of therapies are extremely expensive and not a lot of women were chatting about either at the time. What I want to drive home is that these therapies are a bridge. These therapies are intended to make you feel strong and give you tools to use on your own. Sometimes you may have to do a check in as you would with anything else – you go to the dentist, mechanic, and PCP for checkups, your body and mind may be the same and that’s ok. But use these things to give you tools you can carry with you to continue to learn, strengthen, and be comfortable in your own body. You can get back to doing the things you love, wearing the clothes you love, or moving the way you love with help. Use therapy as a bridge to help you get to the other side instead of feeling stuck and lost forever. Allow yourself time to be a mom, to let your body heal, and make that move when you’re ready.
If you ever need to be connected with someone or assistance finding someone near you, please reach out to me! I know some amazing professionals and those professionals are very connected. Don’t feel stuck, don’t feel shame, don’t wait forever. Allow yourself that self-care and self-love.