When I became a doula, it was important to me to support women in the…
Before we dive in, I have to be honest with you. I don’t have kids, I’ve never given birth, and I’ve never experienced pregnancy or childbirth. But! As a Pilates and Yoga practitioner, I have guided numerous women during their pregnancy, postpartum healing, and returning to their bodies and themselves.
Through my own research, observations, and actively listening to my students’ stories, I’ve acquired a lot of knowledge on the topic. Sometimes more than my students! Because, as women, we aren’t always encouraged or feel safe to share our stories, which means new moms oftentimes don’t get to benefit from the insight of others.
I love working with pregnant and postpartum clients and I want to share with you some of the things I have learned. Besides the common experiences that women share (soreness, sleep deprivation, tearing, etc) each woman experiences her pregnant body and postpartum mom bod in her own way.
Something I see in my pregnant students is how their intuition sharpens as the baby grows and their bodies change. It is clear how strong their desire is to protect the baby. Their movements change in order to keep them safe. I use these observations to guide my conversations with clients. Encouraging them to move toward this connection to their intuition.
How does this feel to you?
What do you think of this exercise?
How is your breathing when you are in this position?
What do you feel your body is asking you for now?
I encourage them to listen to their bodies. To connect with and trust their intuition. To observe their own breathing, and to look for and listen to the messages their bodies are sending them. I find this transformation fascinating. There is so much excitement preparing for a major event. Becoming a mother.
As we prepare physically, we strengthen our legs, learn about the pelvic floor, strengthen our upper back muscles to prepare for holding and feeding the baby constantly. We connect with and listen to our breathing patterns. We are preparing, even rehearsing, for the event of childbirth and the postpartum period.
Because the postpartum period is different.
The postpartum work is a physical and emotional rehabilitation after pregnancy and childbirth and I am honored to share this space with women as they get to know their bodies again. The truth? Things will feel different. Because things are different. And that often causes feelings of disappointment or estrangement from their body.
The sharp intuition cultivated in pregnancy shifts. It dissipates. I feel like questions shifted from internal intentions to something more…external.
When will I fit into my jeans again?
My body is now empty, so what is its purpose?
When can I finally workout like I used to before pregnancy?
It seems that during pregnancy, it is crucial to women to protect their babies. They are open to slower, intuitive, soft movement that is kind to their bodies. Postpartum, when it is just them, there is little to no motivation to protect themselves. In the mad dash to return to their pre-pregnancy bodies, I see women set challenging, malaligned goals for themselves. They seem to lose or forget the connections they built during pregnancy.
What happened to the power of our breath and the value of listening to our bodies?
Why are we so ready to slow down to protect a baby, but not to protect ourselves?
Is it really all about our old jeans?
What if instead, we could focus on feeling better? Strengthen what has become weak? Reconnect to what has been forgotten? Recreate the physical harmony and balance we had before? In my work with new mamas, I always start with breathing. (Feel free to roll your eyes here if you need to get it out of your system).
How can we move our bodies in a way that creates a free and easy passage of air? How do we move in a way that will balance our new daily routine as mothers? How do we get to know our new bodies and develop a loving, supportive relationship with it? How do we create time and space for ourselves where we can move, breathe, and care for ourselves?
I know I am asking a lot of questions. I hope that is welcome as I am guessing people have asked a lot about the baby, but not as much about you.
Speaking of the baby… What do you wish for your baby? What have you promised them? I imagine that you wish for them a strong and healthy body. One that can look after itself and take care of itself. You wish that they will treat themselves with respect and love. You wish they will always create space to meet their needs. All of them.
What if we promise this to ourselves? What if we teach this to our children by being an example? By demonstrating these things to our children, they will learn it. You gotta walk the walk before you talk the talk, right?
Let your postpartum experience be a shift away from “getting back” to anything. A certain exercise, piece of clothing, hours of consecutive sleep. Instead…
- Find your ME time, to take care of your body and your wellbeing.
- Eat food that is nourishing and satisfying.
- Feel strong enough to hold your baby and flexible enough to get down on the floor and play with them.
- Tummy time for everyone! (But really. Once everything is healed medically, it’s a great way to lengthen your hip flexors, open your chest, and start moving your lumbar spine. And it feels really good).
I have an invitation for you. This is your formal invitation to take care of and protect yourself as you did and forever will do for your child. How will you RSVP?