You did it. The biggest accomplishment known to woman kind. The best, most amazing achievement you have and probably ever will know. You brought life into this world. You had a baby. Wow. You never knew you could push your limits like you did, you never knew you could love like you love this new little human and most importantly you have no idea what the hell you were doing with your life until you set eyes on this amazing creation that fits oh so perfectly in your arms. What’s so different? Everything. Everything is different. How you feel, how you look at the world, politics maybe? There are definitely some physical changes that can’t be ignored…like would you even recognize a picture of your naked body if your face wasn’t there? I know I wouldn’t.
Recovering from pregnancy is so vitally important, and yet so few women even know they should, much less what would be beneficial for a new postpartum body, mind, and soul.
You know life will never be the same, you know you’re not the same. But what changed? Can you put your finger on it? When you ask the majority of women this question, they can’t give an absolute, concrete answer, they’ll commonly respond with, “I’m just different.” They may note a change in their priorities, how work, while still important isn’t the number one priority to them anymore, or how it’s now a break from home instead of the other way around. They may mention how their husbands are reporting neglect, or how friendships or strained family relationships no longer carry the same ‘weight’ of concern as they once did. While it’s difficult to put into words what exactly changed, it’s important to nurture the woman who emerged a mother. This new person is a foreigner in her own skin and yet this stranger is welcome and encouraged to stay a while. We should fix her a hot cup of our best tea, give her the best seat on the couch and place a mint on a freshly fluffed pillow on our best linens. This matron is going to be here a while so take good care of her and welcome her with open arms.
Physically, your body took a hell of a beating. Not just during labor and delivery, but for the past 9 months all major resources first went to baby. So yes, let’s talk pelvic floor and all it’s uses and important functions and about the improbability that trampolines will ever sound fun again. Most importantly, however, let’s talk nutrient depletion, muscle aches and soreness, bowel movements (hey winning), and bladder function. After you first have a baby give yourself time and grace. If you’re not up for a long walk after two weeks, then don’t push it. This is the one time in life you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to toughen up and power through. If you don’t have it to give physically then you don’t have it to give. It’s not going to last forever, and recovery will delay if you push it too hard too soon. Should you be ready (and cleared by your doc) to start light activity, proceed with caution and start with movements you’re familiar with. The best possible start, is belly breathing. Sit comfortably on your bed, put your hands around your waist and try to breath into your fingers to make them expand not just on the front of your abdomen but the sides and back as well. Start there. Once you can hold this through your breaths then you can start exercises as well. Jumping into exercise too soon is one of the causes for bladder incontinence. So, make sure your core, your whole core, is engaged to fully protect your vital organs and make sure you don’t have to wear black running shorts the rest of your life. If bladder incontinence is something you’re struggling with I recommend starting with a trainer that specializes in postpartum fitness. We work really well with Dawn Hager of Brickhouse in Windsor and Kate Johnson a local cross fit and pregnancy fitness expert. If you feel like you need a little more support than a pelvic floor physical therapist would be a great resource. Chiropractors who specialize working with postpartum mommas are also great with assisting these physical problems.
As your body is recovering it’s also important to consider the nutrient depletion that took place and will continue to be depleted if you’re breastfeeding. I often encourage our mommas to continue taking their prenatal support, adding a good fish oil if they haven’t already, a magnesium to help with muscle fatigue, and my new favorite, glyconutrients. All of these will aid in the newly recovering body. If milk supply becomes an issue, the first question we should ask is how well supplied is mom? Meaning, if mom’s basic needs aren’t being met it’s harder for the body to produce a resource that isn’t needed for her immediate needs any more so milk supply can be depleted for an array of reasons. If Mom is dehydrated, hungry, tired, cutting calories, stressed, or exercising too much too soon she may see a decrease in supply. Being as well cared for, and as nutrient sufficient as possible will not only ensure quality milk production but the quantity baby requires to feed off mom for as long as she wishes.
” The First Forty Days,” is a freaking game changer! Read this book, know this book, cook from this book. You’re welcome.
What do you mean you want to go part time? You’ve always loved to garden. What changed? Since when don’t you want to hang out on wine night? Of course things don’t fit like they used to but don’t worry you’ll get the baby weight off soon enough. Comments like these are the freaking WORST! Yes, everything is different physically, maybe emotionally, but definitely socially as well. If it helps, give your friends a heads up before baby comes. Chances are they’re expecting things to change anyway, especially if they’ve been through it. If they’re not parents then they may have a harder time. Ask for grace and give yourself a little too. Going out to dinner just involves so much more then it used to, but still try to go while they’re still tiny and sleep in their car seat, but don’t let annoyed friends change your plans or push you to going out if you’re not ready to. This goes for your home as well. Dad, this is where you come in. Should you not be up for company or the baby is finally giving you a break and you want to enjoy a good book, then NO ONE gets to come over. I don’t care if it’s been scheduled for a week. If momma is tired, if baby is having a day, if Dad just isn’t in the mood for one more tuna casserole…no one comes through that door. Set boundaries ahead of time, and stick to them. Creating healthy emotional boundaries will prevent some postpartum issues.