Five months as a momma. Sometimes I still can’t believe it. I carried a beautiful baby boy, and suddenly one day, he was here. The whole birthing experience took me a long time to wrap my head around. Every week my belly grew and I felt Benji kick nonstop, but the fact that my son was actually inside me still blows me away.
As a new mom I am still trying to figure out life – our new routines, my new role, and my relationship with my husband. It’s a process, and something I’m working on every single day.
The Reality of Labor
The truth is, I completely underestimated the emotional and physical impact the birthing experience would have on me. I read about the hormones, baby blues, a six week check up with my OB, baby must-haves for our registry, and the importance of seeing a Women’s Health Physical Therapist. But, I really had no clue.
Labor is THE MAIN event. I want to reiterate that. Like an athlete prepping for the Olympics, we prepare for months (sometimes years) to birth a child. The difference here is that instead of recovering with a massage and ice bath, we are challenged with breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, bleeding, and caring for a new life (there are lots of baby snuggles too!).
Benji was born after four hours of pushing. I credit being so physically active with having the stamina to push so long —something my doctor mentioned a few times. My birth experience was a bit traumatic, and there are several things we will change and request for baby number two.
Postpartum Recovery – Mental
My OB cleared me for exercise at five weeks postpartum. Like the majority of postpartum women, I saw this as my green light to start exercising. I was so eager to jump back into things, even if it meant a heated yoga class with an entire hour of savasana.
I often reflect on this time — did I start too soon? Probably. But, sweating in any form and doing something for ME everyday became vital to my mental health. It was cold in Seattle and I missed San Diego and the ability to go for stroller walks in the sunshine. I was homesick, exhausted, and missing a bit of my old active self.
Postpartum Recovery – Diastasis Recti
Postpartum recovery is different for everyone. At six weeks postpartum I saw a Women’s Health PT, and I’m thankful I did. She told me I had diastasis recti, my pelvic floor was tight, and I had no idea how to breath properly. Yikes. I burst into tears in her office.
I made it my mission to learn as much as possible about diastasis recti, performed my PT exercises religiously, and went to barre 4x/week. I found that barre helped with mobility, glute strength, and retraining my smaller stabilizer muscles. We typically performed the same exercises I did in physical therapy. It was also a great way to connect with other moms!
Ashley is one of my favorite diastasis recti resources. The image above shows that with patience and proper training you can regain strength and tension through your core.
The majority of mommas will experience diastasis recti to some degree in their third trimester as the belly stretches to accommodate a growing baby. In the postnatal period some women’s DR will “heal” without additional intervention. Others (like me) will need to actively focus on posture and an individualized program with a physical therapist. The amount of rehab and healing time depends on a variety of factors, such as genetics, age, size of baby, and number of pregnancies. It’s not just about closing the gap, but also the ability to produce tension in the linea alba (the connective tissue that runs through the midline of your belly). I encourage you to find a Physical Therapist near you. Regardless of when you had your baby, it is never too late!
Postpartum Recovery – What’s Next?
Postpartum recovery is a humbling experience. I don’t think I quite understood the magnitude of pushing a baby out of my body, especially one with a huge head like my son 🙂
I am constantly in awe of other parents and the challenges and sacrifices we make everyday. Being a mom in a new city was and is not easy. I’ve learned an incredible amount about myself, my body, and what #strongasamother truly means. My postpartum recovery continues, both physically and emotionally. I will continue to surround myself with positive people, amazing parents and role models, and my beautiful family.