Saturday, 27 January 2018

Honouring the Postpartum Body

Honouring the Postpartum Body

I have been reflecting on the words “normal” and “change.” Our bodies are designed to undergo changes through various points in our lives as women; puberty, childbirth and menopause. Rather than honouring these changes in a positive manner, we normalize problems and create a society of “not enough”. 

Women are either in a state of wishing they could go back (living in the past) or striving to achieve this idealistic image of a future self. What about being and feeling happy in the now?

I think we have a lot of work to do to help women feel good about their new bodies in the various stages of life. It just seems that as women we are constantly being bombarded and told what we should look like and feel like rather than helping women embrace change, find real solutions if problems arise and provide positive ways to interact with ourselves.

What got me thinking about this is the realization that I too think about my body negatively after childbirth. I am 21 months post partum and although I don’t think this way all the time, I do catch myself thinking of the past and the way my body used to be. I realized that this type of thinking on my part is not very helpful. I cannot go back. 

Then I started thinking, wait a second, what’s wrong with me in the first place? All my negative thinking and wishing was based on a pre-conceived notion that I placed on myself. I “must” go back to normal? What is normal?

Why would I think I’m not normal after giving birth? Yes my body is different, but why wouldn’t the body be different after children? I did grow life inside my body for 9 months and birthed a beautiful child naturally. So why am I feeling ashamed of my body after this beautiful event?

Whatever happened to its normal for the body to need time to heal? Why have we chosen to normalize the problems after childbirth that have actual solutions but not normalize that our bodies do change after childbirth.

For example a woman may still have some baby weight several months post partum despite eating healthy and walking everyday and yet she is made to feel she is not doing enough or exercising hard enough. While another woman is being told, your leaking is normal, you had kids, just go get some pads. This seems a bit backwards. We should be honoring our bodies for what they just went through and discussing solutions/treatments appropriate to the problems.

In my practice, I am seeing women rushing back to the gym before their bodies are ready, not eating enough calories and thinking very negatively about their bodies. It is these habits that I find worrisome.

I believe that behind these behaviours is a sense of we are not enough. We aren’t attractive enough, working hard enough, losing the weight fast enough compared to others, not as good as the other moms.

So I feel the need to spread that word that you are good enough, beautiful enough. If you stop to think for a moment how amazing the process of bringing life into this world is. You did that! Your body did that! Honour your body, love your body, feed your body good food, move it around safely, the rest will fall into place. If your having some troubles, love yourself enough to ask for help when its needed. Most importantly there is help.

There are post partum doulas, there are pelvic health physiotherapists, there are sleep consultants, naturopathic doctors, nutritionist, lactation consultants and all sort so health coaches if you open yourself up to contact them.

My wish is for women to take back the beauty of childbirth, embrace the change and seek solutions to move forward in a healthy and happy way.

The Pelvic Health Lady

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