If the above sentence sounds impossible, this post is for you! I know I would have laughed at the above concept many times in my immediate post-partum period. I want to tell you about safe, simple, compassionate solutions which will help you feel better.
Once you have gone through a pregnancy, a birth and the demands of learning how to parent your first or subsequent children, there have been many sweeping and swift changes in your body, mind and emotions. I remember feeling really surprised at how difficult the postpartum days were. I had gone through so many wonderful prenatal movement sessions, preparations for birth, and had consumed loads of information about pregnancy. During all of that time, post-natal information seemed a bit like an afterthought. There was information about the new baby, parenting changes, relationship changes, and some about body changes and challenges but there was so much emphasis on the prenatal and birthing, that the post-natal often got glossed over.
I had a long labor but a fairly smooth labor and birth. I had a huge tear. Because of the tear and some nasty hemorrhoids that came right at the end, I was VERY uncomfortable. I was so pleased to meet my baby, learn how to breast feed, felt empowered by the whole experience of becoming a mother, and was blissed out…sort of. I was in a ton of pain and aside from the pain felt scared and confused about how to take care of myself now that I had gone through a birth, a tear and had this constant demand of sweet babe.
I felt frustrated because I knew because of my knowledge base that I COULD feel better and do things to assist the healing process but WHAT to do to feel better seemed utterly elusive. I was sad that I couldn’t easily stand for more than a couple of minutes which meant I couldn’t soothe my baby if she needed to be walked around for comfort. My body hurt when I stood up and hurt from sitting and lying down all of the time. It was hard.
Here is me utterly exhausted when she is 2 weeks old…I was happy to have a baby, but my body HURT.
I have been in the dance/pilates/rehabilitative/safe/smart movement profession since the late 90s. I have learned a ton of information regarding how to help improve any injury/posture/situation including prenatal, but my knowledge of post-natal was small. Sure I had learned a lot of useful information on diastasis recti. I also, like many, had heard a ton of conflicting information regarding diastasis recti, pelvic floor and post-natal body care in general. This lack of information and misinformation left me feeling generally powerless after the birth. All I wanted was to feel better, and to know how to help myself feel better but I felt paralyzed.
Because I had some context for injury rehabilitation, anatomy and movement for healing, I could (slowly) find some useful information. What surprised me though, was how little this subject was addressed by my healthcare professionals before and after the birth. It seemed like all of the focus was on the baby, breastfeeding, and a few safety precautions. There was also a barrage of fitness information (and I am not really a fan of fitness information in general see this post) which pushed women to “get your pre-baby body back!” and sentiment which felt harmful and incorrect. Shrouded in much of this body-shaming enocuragement to “get back in shape fast” were many images of skinny white women with flat tummies. The lack of representation of various types of humans and the diversion from the actual postnatal reality for our bodies was stark. I quickly realized that there was a gap in information going on and I needed to find the information and put it together myself.
I started searching, reading and thinking in whatever free time I had — which wasn’t much and I was often battling the fuzzy-headed mental confusion that comes from being a new parent. I felt like I couldn’t really go for walks because the pain of my tear site, and the feelings in my pelvis were scary. I had gone on long walks throughout the pregnancy, walking 2-3 hours the day before I went into labor. I knew, intellectually that I was healing well, but the fear I felt in my body and the lack of knowledge kept me from doing much of anything that would help me feel better.
Three or four weeks after giving birth I found and concocted a few key exercises which eased the pain of my tear site. I focused on just doing 2 short movement sequences of 2-5minutes per day and integrating other movement concepts and stretches throughout the day while caring for my baby. Realistically, it didn’t happen every day and that was okay. Our bodies need time to heal, rest and integrate lots of new information and feelings when we have a baby. Sometimes I only spent 2 minutes on my body. I found the 2 things that seemed most important, and even if I only had 2 minutes, I would do those exercises and feel better! As I started feeling a bit better I also started going for tiny walks and made them a little longer each day. I started with 1 block, then 2 the next day, 3 blocks for several days because that felt pretty challenging! Don’t get me wrong: none of it was easy. I complained to my husband quite a bit, talked to my mom about how she felt after giving birth and worried constantly that I would NEVER feel better.
What stuck me though was how much I wanted a resource that would hold my hand while I figured all of this out, or held my hand and just gave me the information! I wanted to be given tiny doses of information about what was safe, simple ideas about what I could and couldn’t do, and some thoughts on fitting self care into my life now that I was a parent. This became a big deal to me because I am a highly trained, well-seasoned professional in some of the topics I was seeking and it was near impossible to find the information, let alone fit it into my life.
My aim with making this product is not only to address some simple movements to help you feel better, but also to address how to empower new moms in taking care of themselves. I want to approach empowerment in several ways: