About a week ago I (re) posted an article on the Facebook Page about a study out of England which states that ‘women need a full year to recover from pregnancy and childbirth’. There was also a response by a reader,
“That’s literally impossible for most moms in the U.S.”
Sadly, she’s right. America is probably the worst industrialized nation for new mamas, not providing any sort of paid maternity leave, routine in home support for new moms or adequate resources for self care. While I have always been a fierce proponent of the “Year to grow ’em, a year to recover” philosophy, I completely understand that in America, many women MUST get back to work as soon as possible to help support their families.
Unfortunately, Far too many times I’ve had mamas “up and at ’em” just days after giving birth, trying to tackle the responsibilities of running their homes, caring for their older children, back to work full time and starting right in on an exercise regimen in order to “get back to their pre-pregnancy” physique as soon as possible. Not long after, they call me; exhausted, achey, homes and families in chaos, they’re crying at work and with faltering milk supplies. They can’t understand what’s wrong? Some women have actually sustained injuries from trying to do exercise programs that are just too rigorous for the early post partum, and I can think of two clients that actually developed organ prolapses (internal organs coming out of bodily openings) from putting too much stress on their already weakened pelvic floors.
“But Sarah Jessica Parker looked fantastic 2 weeks post partum and I look like a blob!”
What mamas fail to realize is that Sarah Jessica Parker-and other celebrity moms-usually have nannies, housekeepers, personal trainers, chefs and a hoard of other helpers that help them not only manage their homes and their babies, but also are instrumental in helping them regain that “Hollywood glow”. Most of us are lucky if our mothers can come for even a week after we deliver! Sarah Jessica Parker said as much on “The View” after the birth of her son. She shared that she was required to be back on set and able to fit into her wardrobe, so she had private pilates sessions daily, a personal chef preparing special meals and a personal assistant just to handle her affairs! She had a nanny to care for the baby which allowed her to sleep, a housekeeper and a whole host of other staff at her disposal to handle everything else. So yes, she looked fabulous just weeks post partum.
But that isn’t reality.
Mamas, pregnancy and childbirth fundamentally change a woman’s body. Even women who look utterly fabulous after their childbearing years will still have “badges of honor” indicating that they have successfully been pregnant, labored and delivered children. For some women, there will be the very slightest of slack to her abdominal muscles (until she has a tummy tuck!). Others will have faint-or not so faint-stretch marks on the belly, breasts, hips and thighs. Some women will have c-section incision scars. And still others will have invisible badges; that little trickle of urine that escapes when she laughs, coughs or sneezes, hemorrhoids, and other “inconveniences.”But all of them had to allow their bodies to recover. I can’t think of one woman who has given birth of any sort and not said,
“I never had ______ until after I was pregnant and gave birth.”
It just goes with the territory. Most of the so called “badges” are minor, simply little reminders of our journey. However, if women engage in activity that is too vigorous too soon after delivery, even returning to work before their bodies have had a chance to recuperate from the marathon that was pregnancy, labor and delivery, what may have started out as a minor inconvenience can develop into a major problem requiring more time, therapy and sometimes surgical intervention to resolve. Truly it would have been far less traumatic to simply ease back into daily routines.
American culture does not make it easy for women to recuperate from childbearing. However, women themselves can take these 7 steps to ease back into their pre-pregnancy routines.
- No vigorous activity until at least 8 weeks post partum, but if post c-section, consider waiting until 12 weeks post partum to fully heal.
- Learn and do pelvic floor strengthening exercises.
- Rest as much as possible, and whenever you can, take a nap.
- Let major housekeeping go and even get help with the small stuff if possible.
- Say no to outside activities. You don’t need to chaperone, bake cookies or make calls for any event. Focus on you!
- Spend time at home with family. This is precious bonding time for you all.
- Reduce work hours as much as possible.
I realize that some of these suggestions will be easier to implement than others. This list is also not exhaustive, but just a starting point. It’s just imperative mamas that you take care of yourselves so that you can get back to your daily routines with full strength and joy. It’s also important to fully heal from this pregnancy, especially if are planning to have other pregnancies in the future. If you start back too soon, you may set yourself back several weeks or injure yourself making subsequent pregnancies more difficult.
I know that it’s been a long haul, especially if you’ve spent weeks to months on bed rest. But please, please, please take a little more time to heal. Don’t compare yourselves to other women, especially not celebrities. Your journey is your journey and its best to honor your inner time table as much as possible, allowing your body to heal and prepare for subsequent pregnancies or to simply chart new territory as a mom! Whatever you decide to do, do it with a healthy, strong body!
Do you have a tip for recovering after pregnancy you’d like to share? Do you have a question? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Your words could be just the thing a mama needs to read today!
Mamas on Bedrest and Beyond introduces the Get Your Body Back After Bedrest Program. These 30, 60 or 90 day programs help mamas regain strength and muscle tone, lose the baby weight, boost their nutrition and increase overall wellness. Each program is customized to individual mamas and begins with a 5 Day detoxification and then slow, steady, transformation to a pre-pregnancy level of health and wellness (or better!) Former Mamas on Bedrest are able to participate in the programs when they are at least 6 weeks post partum and have been released from medical care from their obstetricians or midwives. Our first programs will kick off on Sunday, July 13th, and supplies need to be ordered by July 3rd for timely shipping. If you are ready to “Get Your Body Back!” send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org today and we’ll get you started!
I am always so thrilled to get an e-mail that has a beautiful cherubic face of a newborn from a Mama on Bedrest. You mamas (and dads) rock! But with all that you have gone through with your pregnancy, labor and delivery, have you ever considered taking a little post partum vacation? They are called “BabyMoons”. But we all know that such a “pre-baby” vacation is impossible for Mamas on Bedrest. So I called representative for the California Association of Boutique Bed and Breakfast Inns and asked, “Well, do you offer similiar packages for new mamas and dads which will accommodate newborns? The answer, a resounding YES!
Now to be fair, the term “BabyMoon” actually refers to a vacation an expecting couple takes before the birth of their wee one. Coined by the California Association of Boutique Bed and Breakfast Inns, BabyMoons are designed to provide (one last) escape for expecting couples before the baby arrives. The destinations offer couples’ massages by prenatal-certified massage therapists (for mamas) and an array of “babymoon” package indulgences.
Mamas, these places are spectacular!!! Dotted along the California coast, they span from Sonoma all the way down to San Diego! The inns are the height of luxury and just what weary “Former” Mamas on Bedrest and The Dads who love them need after months on bed rest. Imagine beautiful accommodations overlooking the ocean. Firepits to sit by and watch the sunset. Massages by certified perinatal massage therapists to soothe and smoothe all those aches and pains from the weeks on bed rest. Sumptuous meals and a calming atmosphere are just what Mamas and Dads need-in addition to relaxing time to bond with their little one.
Participating properties are listed below with links to the sites with descriptions and pricing. I truly hope that some of you have the opportunity to relax in such luxury after all you have done to birth your little ones!
Timber Cove Inn (Baby Moon Retreat is the Second Special listed)
Mount View Hotel & Spa (Oh Baby! BabyMoon for 2 is the last special listed)
Old Monterey Inn (BabyMoon Getaway is fourth special down)
Does this type of post partum vacation appeal to you? share your thoughts in the comments section below. I wanted to know more about these getaways, so I have put in a request for an interview. We’ll podcast as soon as there is a response and acceptance!