Why Postpartum Moms Should Give Themselves Grace
The hustle and bustle of preparing for a baby are glorious, especially when it’s your first child. The freedom of moving independently while growing a human is remarkable. We all have these ideals of the perfect pregnancy and delivery. Inevitably, something goes awry but none of it matters because you get to bring home that new bundle.
One of that challenges in being a parent in the new decade is the opportunity to showcase your pregnant belly and subsequently the new baby and momma. It seems women put this pressure on ourselves to bounce back like nothing ever happened.
One thing I’d love to share with those preparing for or recovering from giving birth is that this is an amazing human feat! Congrats, mama, you did something amazing.
And while it is an amazing accomplishment, keep in mind that giving birth is nothing new. I don’t share that to diminish the event but rather to relax your nerves that many others have done this before you and will do it after you. Many will struggle and suffer. And others will have it “easy.” The point is, no ones is perfect and yours doesn’t have to be either.
The 4th Trimester Serves a Purpose
It’s an exciting time in this field as we watch younger generations grow lovingly attached to their ever-changing pregnant body. With this heightened awareness of the physical changes, more energy is being focused on the core and pelvic floor. Decades ago, we weren’t talking about this, so the progress is fantastic.
I want you to know that having a postpartum body is nothing to fear.
Unfortunately, the increased attention to the body brings an unwritten expectation that baby weight must be lost immediately. The idea that your belly will flatten up, you’ll never pee your pants, and you’ll be able to walk or run a few miles comfortably in the weeks after birthing a baby is a reality for only some. Sometimes, you just need more time to heal.
Be kind to yourself by sitting or lying down, breathing deeply, reading, ordering takeout, and not comparing yourself to others.
Move, walk, and don’t be afraid to get strong again. Reconnect with your center. Get to know your body in a new way. After all, if you have carried and birthed a human being, no matter how or when they arrived, you are amazingly changed.
Check your goals
Honestly, a good bit of rest is never a bad thing. It will help you heal more quickly physically, mentally, emotionally.
But if your goal is to be back at the gym lifting in a few months, that’s great! Just make sure you take time to rebuild that deep core stability as well. On the other hand, if your goal is to walk around the block without back pain, that’s a good one too. And it’s ok to focus on the rest and rebuilding instead of how soon you will feel comfortable wearing a bikini again.
Having a torn, bulging, pelvic floor or a mushy and separated abdomen isn’t glamorous, but it doesn’t make you doomed either.
Coming to Terms with Postpartum
What I have loved about specializing in pelvic health physical therapy is that it has brought to light how common postpartum problems are. But even more interesting is just how efficiently the skilled therapies and education we provide can help people with postpartum.
When women were surrounded by their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts during and after birth, the secrets to lifting without pain and tightening the pelvic floor up were passed along. I don’t know how people cope with these issues in other generations or cultures that are more distant. But I do know that now there is help!
Physical therapy is one of the safest and most cost-effective ways to restore quality of life. It might just help answer those lingering questions of, “what just happened to my body?”
About the author:
Dr. Jessica Chavez-Kline earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at The Boston Conservatory and later earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from The University of Miami. She has worked in a wide variety of settings from the Critical Care Unit to Outpatient private practice. With extensive training in many styles and forms of yoga, pilates, and dance, she regularly uses yoga and other forms of fitness and mindfulness practices as therapeutic modalities. As an instructor, she brings evidence-informed and anatomically sound voices to her movement classes. Dr. Chavez-Kline focuses her time and energy on making it possible for people at all stages of life to “feel well,” with a special interest in Women’s/Pelvic Health. With this goal in mind, she is happy to be part of the team at Anchor Wellness.
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