In the short time that pstprtm has been alive and well in the world, we’ve…
Ashley DeLeon (She/Her) is a New Yorker, dog mom, and mother to an endlessly curious and rambunctious 4-year-old daughter. She is also an esteemed Pilates instructor in New York City. She began studying pilates in childhood to complement her rigorous, pre-professional ballet training. Set back by injuries, Ashley started teaching Pilates at 18 years old and found her true passion was helping others find joy through movement.
Ashley approaches her clients with excitement, empathy, and a true desire to share the many benefits of the Pilates method. You can peek into Ashley’s creative movement life on her Instagram account, @ashleydeleonpilates, where she blends Pilates, yoga, and dance to create movement experiences that are referential and expressive. And you can learn more at www.ashleydeleonpilates.com.
How postpartum are you?
4.5 years and counting.
How have you transformed since becoming a parent?
Oof! So many ways. If I’m being totally honest, I don’t think I truly understood how quickly time passes until I had my daughter. Once I had her, I became more present than I had ever been. And I became keenly aware that not only does time move fast, but we don’t get it back. That showed me that it’s never too late to start creating experiences we long to have.
After our breastfeeding relationship ended, I started investing time in old (and new) hobbies. Those hobbies became passions and then I accidentally created a new career by sharing them. So becoming a mama really brought me closer to my authentic self and showed me how urgent it was that I prioritize that.
With the little solo time you do get, what’s your favorite thing to do?
Loud music, an empty room, a mat, a wall, and 3 hours undisturbed to move intuitively. Must also come with snacks and a matcha or coffee. Bonus points if this can happen in the late afternoon/evening.
If you could describe your postpartum experience in one word, what would it be and why?
For so many reasons that many of us share. For me personally, I didn’t have a helpful, supportive, or empathic community. I was alone A LOT and the people who did come by couldn’t relate to what I was going through. The few mothers I did know, and my doctors, had different values than me. And simply had extremely different priorities. So I was alone, felt alone, and frequently defensive and frustrated.
What’s something that caught you off guard during the first 3 months of parenthood?
A lot of people gave me advice on how to take care of the baby. As we know, this is completely unhelpful and irrelevant since everyone is different.
No one really prepared me for what I actually needed. I actually needed someone to take care of me! I didn’t anticipate having so much pain and being so immobilized by a traumatic labor.
Also, a peri wash bottle with an angled spout would have been sooo helpful.
On a scale of 1-10, how supported did you feel as you navigated healing and learning how to take care of your baby? Why?
About a 3. I had health insurance so that alone made me at least feel supported in the sense that I did not have to worry that extra doctors visits would break the bank. However, my doctors were wrong for me and that is something I, unfortunately, learned in hindsight.
With our pediatrician, I didn’t realize how different our values were until I moved neighborhoods and got a new pediatrician who offered all sorts of knowledge and choices that I never knew existed.
And with my doctors, they were extremely dismissive of my pain and lack of my healing until I continuously came back complaining. Since that time, I have discovered tons of options that my doctors and PT’s could have offered me, but didn’t. So not only did I feel unsupported at the time, I have realized the extent to which I actually was unsupported.
If you could dream up the perfect postpartum journey, what would it look like and feel like?
To be fed and cleaned up after. Have someone cleaning pumping and bottle parts. Water brought on the hour so that I could spend my time and energy focused on mothering and getting to know my new baby as much as I desired.
A few moms with similarly aged children who share my parenting values. Or at least were open-minded and non-judgemental toward my own.
A doctor who takes me seriously and gives me options when concerns are raised.
A wonderful pelvic floor physical therapist whom I could see weekly.
It would feel like a celebration of my individual journey.
What’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give a brand new parent?
Don’t take anyone’s advice. They may mean well, but no one can prepare you for your journey.
Instead, the best thing you can do is ask for help at the first sign that you feel yourself needing it. Whatever the type of help you need, in any given stage, ask for it without guilt, shame, or hesitation.