Can we take a second to talk about the term "bounce back" in regards to childbirth and postpartum? Can we all agree that the goal of "bouncing back" to your pre-pregnancy and pre-baby body is an absurd goal? Can we shift the conversation from this "bouncing back" absurdity and into a kinder thought of "healing" from childbirth?
No matter what her body type or childbirth story might be, a new mama needs time to heal. Her body needs to heal and her mind needs time to readjust. Her hormones need to rebalance. She needs to move slowly and eat luxuriously. And tune into her baby. These have been my own healing principles in early postpartum.
It's NOT been easy to follow these guidelines! I LIKE to be moving toward a tangible goal. I LIKE having a fun to-do list. I LIKE physical and mental activity. But these things, at this time, are a hinderance to healing.
I gave birth 8 days ago and have been home from the hospital for the past 5 days. I've focused on eating rich, nutrient-dense, EASY to digest foods (chicken soup, cooked veggies, dates, soft eggs, and LOTS of water). I've also be practicing belly binding to encourage my belly, muscles, and organs to move back to their proper places. I've spent a ton of time in bed and made rest with my baby my absolute priority.
Because of these things, giving birth to a relatively small baby, and hospitable genes, I appear to have physically "bounced back". I LOOK like my pre-pregnant self again! And you know what? It's a challenge. Because I look "skinny" again, I feel like I should be back up and moving around just like before. Because I look "skinny" again, I get to hear comments from everyone about my appearance. Because I look "skinny" again, it seems that everything should be back to "normal".
Despite appearing to be Instagram-able on the surface, I've definitely not "bounced back" below the surface. My hormones are severely out of whack and my brain is very much in the baby fog. It's a challenge to write this! It's a challenge to stay in bed. It is a massive challenge to stay in bed!!!
This weekend I actively violated my own healing principles and ventured out into the world- too far away from bed and for way too long. I felt great, energetic, and proud to show off my baby for about the first hour. Then I quickly felt my mind and emotions begin to spiral downward. Anxiety and sadness set in. Physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion were quick to the scene. Lots of crying. Lots of mental confusion. Hormones and brain sending very clear signs to get back to rest!
Now I feel like I've set my own healing back. Now I feel like I have to really consciously rest to make up for this energetic deficit. I'm so grateful for my family and community who are encouraging me to rest. I'm so grateful that I asked them to hold me accountable and help me rest. I'm so happy that I made a postpartum plan! But, damn, it is not so easy.
Now I can be still and allow myself to HEAL and bond with my sweet, precious baby. And still, I'm learning the lessons that I am meant to learn.
Yoga Teacher. Thinker of things.
Sometimes I just need to empty the contents of my brain into words.