Your body after a baby

12:16 PM

It goes without saying that having a baby changes your body forever in a myriad of ways. I'll never forget when I was six weeks postpartum and feeling very lost and at odds with my new body. It was difficult for me to accept all the changes and I was getting tired of waiting for my body to "heal." It's now almost six months since I had Birdie and I am feeling much better about everything, but it wasn't easy and it certainly didn't happen overnight.
I personally had a very difficult delivery. When I see people who have those adorable labor room photos to go with their birth story I have to wonder if they were actually "delivering." If someone took photos of me they would most certainly make small children and grown men have nightmares for the rest of their life. V came very quickly (two and a half hours to be exact) and to put it bluntly ravaged my body. I broke my tailbone, I had a lot of stitches and I could barely walk for approximately two weeks. It was disappointing and scary for me. I thought I knew what I was in for - I had read ALL the birth stories, books and even been there as some of my relatives came home from the hospital. I was terrified, confused and felt very alone. And when things didn't get much better three and four months out I knew I needed help.
I feel like we hear a lot about "getting back into shape" after the baby. We're bombarded with how to lose weight, slim down, blah, blah, blah... But no one talks about the much more serious issues. At the end of the day it's not a big deal if you don't fit into your old clothes (honey no one does FOR A WHILE) but the other repercussions of pregnancy and labor aren't so easy to spot but can cause serious issues. I think it would be much more valuable if like some European countries (France especially) we helped women heal their bodies after pregnancy instead of shaming them into exercising and eating less. Some very common postpartum complications include - abdominal separation, pelvic floor and hip instability, back pain and improper posture. Towards the end of the pregnancy women tend to waddle to help balance their midsection and this tends to cause a whole laundry list of problems. The unfortunate thing is most women don't even know anything is wrong and just continue on with their lives with slight to severe pain, thinking that this is "normal."
Luckily I mentioned my problems to my midwife who sent me to a wonderful woman specializing in physical therapy for women's issues. She has become invaluable to me. The very first time I saw her she spent almost an hour documenting everything that was wrong with me (it was a lot), things that I wouldn't have had a clue about. She listened to me and together we began to put humpty dumpty back together again. I've been working with her for two months now and she has been a godsend. My posture, balance and strength has greatly improved and I feel closer than ever to complete healing in regards to my tailbone. She told me today that so often she seems women who are convinced that their aches and pain have nothing to do with delivery when more often than not that's exactly what it's due to. My specific issue isn't all that common, however something such as abdominal separation is and you really need a trained professional to help you return your abdominal muscles back to normal.
Weight loss is so trivial in light of something like chronic pain, which a lot of women simply accept as the norm after delivery. Focusing on treating your body well and also giving it plenty of time to heal is what really matters. Eating well, especially when breastfeeding, and the proper type of exercise is what should be the priority. It's a long standing tradition to value outward appearance over what is inside and on the one hand that can refer to one's character but in the case of postpartum it can refer to your bones and muscles which have all undergone massive amounts of trauma and change. If only we could focus more on helping women to heal themselves from the inside first and think about swimsuit season last.
And lastly, please remember to always speak up if you think something is wrong and keep looking until you find someone that will listen - NO ONE knows your body better than you do.

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4 notes

  1. Well said and beautifully written. Thank you for reminding me that's its ok that I am still not back to my pre-pregnancy weight and to listen to my body's aches.

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  2. So true.
    While I didn't break my tailbone, that area definitely suffered some trauma and only now am I able to begin going through an entire day without that nagging pain (5 months postpartum).
    I remember during my 39th week of pregnancy, my dad was like, "You'll be back on the bike in what, a couple more weeks?" I looked at him like, "Seriously??! More like six after the baby is born, IF I'm lucky."
    My clothes are beginning to fit better, but I am taking my time for sure.

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  3. oh my word - THANK YOU for posting this. i have never really thought of this perspective, mulled it over, had someone speak to me about it, etc. THANK YOU. whenever i am sick with a really bad cold, compassion grows within me in leaps and bounds for those who have a chronic illness. who wake up every day feeling bad. and i never applied that thought to post partum. thank you for sharing your experience and what you did to correct it. it's incredibly important for more people to hear this. and when V is a young woman and found out she broke your tailbone (!!!!), something tells me you're going to have very good mother's days for quite some time.

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  4. Oh my! A broken tail bone is no joke. I am so sorry you had to go through that. I also had a traumatic birth that led to an unanticipated (and unwanted but necessary) surgical delivery. Prior to birth, the most "serious" surgery I ever had was wisdom tooth extraction, so the process of recovering was really rough. I was a wreck physically and emotionally, amid the haze of postpartum hormones/emotions, learning to breastfeed, and generally becoming a mom.

    It's really troubling how casual and flip people can be regarding the postpartum recovery process of a maternal body. Not to mention the unreasonable body scrutiny and judgment that we women face...

    Thank you for talking about this so candidly. It makes me want to seek out additional professional care because I do have some nagging pains at six months postpartum that I keep trying to minimize/ignore to my own detriment.

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