Giving birth to a human being – a truly unforgettable and special experience for a family. About 18 months ago I experienced this wonder. During pregnancy I did read a lot about the current development of my baby and I did a bit of research on certain topics I was interested in, such as breastfeeding, bonding, how to calm a crying baby etc.
Once we came home and our everyday life started as a small family, I ended up reading way more about anything related to my baby. Be it sleeping, eating, pooping, I used the internet trying to get as much information as possible from women who have been in a similar situation as me. In this time I also talked a lot with my fellow mamas about any issues we had. In retrospect I think there were couple of topics I did not think about, so here’s what you might want to prepare for:
Before I get started I just want to make sure that I am not a medical professional. These are all my own opinions, based on my own personal experience. I’ve made some research, before and after I had given birth and have looked at this topic from different angles and perspectives. See this as an inspiration rather than a guideline. Every person is individual and all I want is to inspire you to understand what could work best for yourself.
What I experienced and what I can see in my immediate surrounding, is that many women don’t get to understand certain topics around motherhood. This is not the fault of becoming mothers – they have a lot on their to do list and are certainly not aware of some topics. I was definitely not aware of many topics. However, I hope that this blog post might be helpful to come across certain themes you might not even knew existed.
This topic is the reason why I drafted this whole post in the first place. I am constantly getting information from my immediate friends circle to my extended circle of people I know to social media posts who are showing newly mothers working out like nothing has ever happened. I think it’s bad and here’s why:
Firstly, your body has created a brand new human being!
Your body mama, has run a marathon, a triathlon and a hexathlon!
(does a hexathlon even exist?) each and every day for the past 10 months! Besides your body working every day to create a new living being, it was also nourishing your unborn child from your resources. (e.g. iron levels are usually plumbing during pregnancy) Willingly and gracefully. Treat your body the way it deserves and let it rest dear mama. You’ll get to work out soon enough, you’ll get to do what you used to do soon enough. Just give yourself and your body time to recover.
And even if, you are extremely into sport and this is something that helps you to relax, to get your balance, then
be considerate to your body and choose exercises that are soft and gentle to yourself and your body.
For example, don’t go running, go swimming instead. Don’t go to the Full Body Workout class, but go to Yoga. There are so many other ways than going back to your pre-pregnancy workout routine, because you are not in pre-pregnancy you are in post-pregnancy.
Do exercises for your pelvic
Juxtaposition to all that “no-exercise-after-birth-talk”, there is one specific body part of yours that actually needs a good training now and it’s your pelvic!
Now this is an extremely important part of recovery for your body after you gave birth. Be it vaginal or through a cesarian, doesn’t matter at this point, because your body was preparing for vaginal birth which means that your pelvic muscles were softening. Besides, your pelvic muscles also had to carry your baby and therefore did quite some extra work in the past months than ever before in your life. The different forces that worked on your pelvic muscle can result after birth, that you find it hard to hold your bladder.
I definitely had this problem.
I would go for a walk and then I’d really had to pee and I barely made it home to the bathroom. Sometimes I already released a few drops because I couldn’t handle it. This is why it is very important to practice this part of your body.
And even if you did not have this problem right now, training your pelvic is an investment in your future and also in your sex life. A weak pelvic muscle can cause incontinence later in life and a trained pelvic can get you pleasurable moments now in your relationship.
Just as a side note: The pelvic muscles can be practiced before birth too. You are just not really likely to know where they are or what they are. Also these muscles can be used during sexual intercourse, as you contract them, which results in giving you and your partner pleasure.
This is also the reason why the misconception of women becoming more loose after giving birth in their vagina, doesn’t hold true.
The muscles are what makes the vagina loose or tight and you might even end up getting tighter after birth, by knowing now how to use those muscles.
That being said, I was lucky enough to live in a country in which I could have classes after birth for recovery of the pelvic muscle. Those were substituted by the government. If you are not living in a country like that, I can recommend you to look onto YouTube and search some video tutorials or to get some books on that topic. My class focussed on the ‘Tanzberger concept’ named after a physio therapist.
Take your time
We are superwomen, we always have been. Women are usually still responsible for most of what makes a family function: Food, clothes, house. Let’s just be considerate to ourselves and be clear on the individual definition of each aspect for us.
I start to understand that I have to define what’s possible for me. When Baby N was born, I was lucky to have my mother around for the first month. She cooked, cleaned and washed for us. I was able to take all the time I needed to actually focus on being a mom. When she was gone, I had to tackle these tasks together with my husband.
However, I also had to learn to take it easy. I could clean really every day because it’s winter and we spend a lot of time at home at the moment but what’s the point?
We have to understand that we are not only getting to know our child in their first months but through their whole life.
I mean we all change over time, so do our kids. They change every day. So let’s put away the thought that our homes have to be perfect and enjoy the time instead.
The first shower I took after Baby N was born was a very disturbing experience for me. I did not recognise myself anymore. Where a huge baby belly used to be, there was a still big belly but empty and wobbly. All the weight I have gained (in total about 20kg) was showing all of a sudden to me.
I felt weird and estranged to myself.
What followed was an obsession to loose my weight and fit back into my old pants as soon as possible. I can tell you, it wasn’t worth it.
Even today, I haven’t come back to my weight pre-pregnancy. There are woman out there who will bounce back to their body pre-pregnancy easy and there are women who will have to come back to their old shape because it’s their job. However, you should not compare yourself with them. Comparing is a very toxic habit anyway. Instead, accept your new self.
Embrace it and fall in love with it.
After becoming a parent, there are so many questions every day that you have to answer for another living being. Worrying about your body is just adding to that list and it is totally unnecessary.
I can see where this need comes from. Women in society are expected bounce back to their bodies as if nothing has ever happened. It is hard to adapt to a new role, but finding yourself in a new body all at the same time. It is nothing that will happen over night.
We tend to hold on to something and we want to be in control.
It’s our bodies that we can shape and form to a certain extent. A fast fix is also to just do what we used to do before we had kids.Be it physical exercise, nightlife habits, work or anything else you used to define yourself with.
I think it would be healthier to accept the changes we’ve gone through physically and psychologically and instead evolve our “old self” into our new self. It can take away a lot of frustration and negativity.
For example, buy yourself clothes that fit you right now, instead of trying to fit into your old pair of jeans by all means. Instead of going back to your exercise routine, look out for alternatives that are softer to your body. Think about changing your eating habits as a lifestyle commitment rather than following whatever new miracle diet there is.
Point is, accept what and who you are, don’t fight it, own it!
Check your tribe
There is probably no event in life where you can see who’s a real friend and who is not than when you got a baby. This is actually a great opportunity to re-evaluate your relationships and maybe even break ties with negative friendships.
The thing is, you won’t have time for people who are only using you.
That’s why you will naturally end up reducing and choosing the right people to stay with you. And sometimes, you won’t even have the choice. There will be friends who will part from you because the common ground, the connection between you and them is different at this point in time.
It might simply be, that your lifestyle, doesn’t fit to theirs anymore and this is perfectly fine, trust me.
After all, you should appreciate and value the time and energy both parties have spent and invested in that relationship. Acknowledging that the friendship isn’t beneficial for one or both parties hurts but is really something positive in the big picture.
With a new baby, you’ll also get the opportunity to let new people into your life. You’ll meet other parents with whom you can connect and this is also very important. Especially if you are a mom, it can be essential for your mental well-being to surround yourself with other moms who are most likely having same or similar issues and experiences as you.
It’s great to know that you are not alone in this.
To detox your relationships and to find new people who add value to your overall well-being is the focus, rather than resenting and holding grudges to those friendships that didn’t work out.
I hope this can help you to prepare on a different level for what’s coming and that you’ll find your way in this.