Body Postpartum - A Year On
In a way - I was scared of caring.
I was scared that if I cared about my core, if I cared about how I felt, somehow I wouldn’t be able to care about my baby, that I wouldn’t be able to advocate for body positivity, that caring for myself just wasn’t allowed.
In my first weeks postpartum I felt strong, goddess like - a birth warrior.
I was proud of overcoming my eating disorder, growing a baby, birthing a baby, feeding a baby and felt pretty “good”. There definitely wasn’t anything obviously wrong. I went back to walking three days after giving birth and was doing some sort of yoga practice pretty soon on. I was careful to avoid strenuous abdominal exercises but I did wear my baby all the time - and yes - she is and was heavy.
I lost all but 3lbs of my pregnancy weight within a few weeks and there it stayed. I wasn’t concerned - bodies change and all I wanted was to be happy and healthy but at 10 months postpartum I finally had to admit that something didn’t feel quite right. I was bloated a lot of the time, had diarrhea most days and at times felt like there was air “down there”.
I was NOT wetting myself, sex wasn’t a problem and other people generally thought I “looked” great but I did get asked if I was pregnant a fair few times and I knew that if I relaxed .. I definitely looked it.
I hadn’t had a check up since 8 weeks postpartum and then my midwife thought I was doing well. I think I was - the problem is nothing changed after that 8 weeks and as my life got more active and my very large baby got heavier I couldn’t take care of my core. Perhaps things got worse!
The strain of what I was doing - parenthood, life and work - distracted me so I couldn’t possible think about engaging my deep core.
As a yoga and wellness “expert” I find this hard to admit - especially a 26 year old 105 lb women who a lot of people think is “lucky”. I just started to feel a bit shitty.
This wasn’t my body any more.
When Dr Grace reached out to me about having a postpartum pelvic exam I knew I had to go. I just wanted to know what was happening in my body. I wanted to confirm that I was right - that I still knew myself - most of all I just needed someone else to tell me I wasn’t ok.
Staying in touch with my own self is so important to me - as a mother, I have felt myself slip, I dragged through the day, literally and metephorically and my lack of self care was perhaps a metaphor for how I was loosing myself.
In a way - I was scared of caring. I was scared that if I cared about my core, if I cared about how I felt, somehow I wouldn’t be able to care about my baby, that I wouldn’t be able to advocate for body positivity, that caring for myself just wasn’t allowed.
Here I am - fighting for women’s empowerment and I was somehow lacking the ability to empower myself.
At 10 months postpartum I went for my first physical therapy appointment and confirmed that I still had a diastasis recti and my pelvic floor was in spasm - but what’s more I finally was able to face up to the pain I was feeling in my body. The pain of abuse, the pain of childbirth, the tiredness, the pain of my eating disorder, the pain of my gut inflammation, of my bloating and the chronic problems I have had with my digestion.
I always thought I was healthy “enough” but I also always knew there was something not quite right. I thought I was unlucky, I just didn’t fully believe I deserved to heal. I thought it was just how I was - I would always have digestion problems and never like my tummy. I just didn’t deserve to like it.
These past few months I’ve been on a journey of healing - but not the journey I expected. Listening to my inner voice, I realized that the trauma by body has been through has been affecting my ability to heal from my pregnancy - my pelvic area just has’t been loved.
I didn’t love it - I didn’t believe in it - I didn’t respect it.
Whilst I have been incorporating exercises into my daily life and making progress - I still have a lot to do. Getting to the root cause of my problems - is a work of excavation. Why do I need to heal ? What has harmed me ? In what ways can I heal with love?
Facing up to my fears of altering my diet and of finding out what is really going on has been a big challenge for me. I did a month long elimination of gluten, dairy, sugar and coffee ( I don’t eat meat) and I started to feel great - I felt proud of myself, I slept well and I felt like I belonged. However as the month ended I felt myself slip - maybe an inner voice telling me to self sabotage and as I reintroduced foods I just felt worse than ever!
After the month of elimination I struggled to keep out foods but felt like my body was under attack. Alcohol, coffee, sugar, gluten, dairy, chips .. I was eating it all .. and it all was hurting me.
I grew up in a country where health care operates very differently. We have “free” healthcare for all. Free healthcare - but no choice in healthcare. I grew up with a fear of healthcare but also a fear of spending money on my health.
Finally allowing myself to see a doctor or my choice, to have blood tests done and to know what was really going on with my body was a big step.
I am currently still in the process of excavating. I have learned at this point in time my body is intolerant to nearly ALL common food types .. that yes .. it is under attack from inflammation .. but that with love and care I can heal.
I finally feel like I’m ready heal. That I deserve to heal. That I’m worth the FULL healing.
I’m holding space for my healing. Allowing myself to have slip ups. Understanding that my relationship with food and with my body is complex, being kind on my inability to be consistent but trusting in the fact that I will slowly get there.
These first few steps have been so much for me - I know that now I am on this path - I can go the full way.