I feel like there is this lingering understanding or assumption that when a mom has a baby, the first 6 to 12 weeks will be hard, but then after that you'll be doing what you used to do, working on getting your "body" back and then now you'll just have a cute little baby in tow.
My feeling is that becoming a mother doesn't mean that you are no longer an autonomous individual, but it does mean that your life and your body will never be the same as it was before the baby.
Let's start with bodies.
You will never have the same body that you did before you had a baby.
There are physiological changes to your pelvic floor, your cervix, your abdominal cavity, your breasts and your vagina that occur as a result of growing and birthing a human, yes, even if you had a C-section.
You have a new and different body that resembles the old one, but almost comes with an entirely new user manual.
It's needs and function will be different.
You're going to want to give it time to process, time to heal, time to be restored...
You'll need to reacquaint yourself with movement and alignment AND you'll be doing all this while holding often holding a baby.
This does not mean that you can't feel strong, confident, capable and joyful in your postpartum body, but it does mean that it will be different.
And if you're looking at your friend that appears to have NOT gained baby weight and thinking, "Gosh, she's back to what she was pre-baby," trust me.
Maybe her body's changes aren't easily detected, but every woman that has had a baby has experienced a MAJOR metamorphosis of their life and physical being.
Scars, prolapse, pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasic recti, mental and emotional conditions, hormonal imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, and weight-gain are ALL souvenirs from the amazingly challenging battle that is pregnancy and birth.
YOU DID IT!
YOU SURVIVED YOUR OWN UNIQUE BIRTH EXPERIENCE!
AND NOW YOU HAVE THE BODY PROVE IT AND THAT'S OK!
Actually, it's more than ok, it's wonderful!
Don't let our culture steal your joy when it pits you against other women.
Heck, don't do it to yourself either!
No other woman is the standard of what you should be or should be doing.
It's totally ok to want to be healthful and feel at home and comfortable in your body, but you have to be vigilant about the messages that you all yourself to take in from TV, magazines, social media...
Your journey will not look like anyone else's.
Your needs are different.
Your birth souvenirs are different.
Your babies' needs will be different as will the demands of your unique life.
We've taken thin and fit women who seem to either barely gain weight in pregnancy or easily lose pregnancy weight and made them the model of health.
We've put them on a pedestal to sell products and programs without conceding that, well yes, maybe they aren't holding on to their baby weight in the same way that torahs are, but they could be struggling in other areas.
We use reductionist thinking and focus on this one variable, weight, without talking about the MANY moving parts that make a woman healthy and happy in her new life as mother, because even if a woman appears to "get her body back" in the first year postpartum, there are myriad other issues that might not be addressed.
Issues that can cause physical and emotional pain further down the line....
Is she supported? Is she sleeping? Does she feel isolated? Is she secretly ashamed of bowel dysfunction or incontinence? Does her back hurt constantly? Is she anxious and or depressed? Is she nutrient-deficient? Is she struggling to find ways to enjoy herself? Is her baby particularly challenging right now?
So let's stop making the prenatal time about being fit while pregnant.
And let's also let go of this bizarre need to have women bounce back to their former bodies and lives.
New moms are busy.
They have a lot on their plates and they don't need to feel like their value and their health are tied to how productive they are or what size they are.