Our bodies are so amazing, creating, carrying, and birthing life. But once our baby is here, we can have feelings of disconnection to this new body that had gotten really used to housing a little one. Our bodies now need time to settle in to a body without the extra being and that in of itself is quite the process. Our bodies will never be the same as it once was and that is OK, actually it’s just a part of the process. We need to give our bodies time to heal properly and not rush to “bounce back”. Bouncing back is a false perception pressured by society that is an unreasonable goal for mothers to attain. Focusing on our mind body connection and giving ourselves what we need in that moment should be the priority. Often times women get impatient with their healing, compare themselves to others, and plan their healing ahead of where their mind and bodies actually are. Proper postpartum healing takes intention and starts with a mind body connection.
Connection starts by meeting yourself where you actually are. Not where the latest social media influencer is in their postpartum journey, or where your mom or friend were during their pregnancies at your stage, this is about you and your unique journey and doing your best to be your best. Keep in mind, it is never too late to start healing.
So, how do you start to connect with your body after baby?
1. Self Awareness
Check in with yourself.
- Do you need rest?
- Do you need nourishment?
- Do you need space?
- Do you need help?
- Who can help you with your needs?
- How is your body physically feeling?
- How are you mentally feeling?
Self check ins are the first step to connection but also becoming more self aware. Self awareness might not be physical but it is key to connecting to the physical. When disconnected from our bodies, we can become neglectful of the things our body’s need. If we listen to our body’s, they are the best compass to navigate us through life. Going through the motions or ignoring our body’s cues can result in back pain, pelvic floor issues, depression, anxiety, fatigue, resentment, exhaustion, the list goes on.
These are the questions that need attention often during the postpartum period of life. In the arms of a flourishing mother you will find a flourishing baby. There are so many changes physically, mentally, and mostly physiologically that happen and then we are sent home with a new little being that needs just as much attention. We end up sacrificing our own health for theirs. I am in no way saying we should take away from a baby’s needs just saying, a little self check in will go a long way for your overall well being in this intensified season. Self awareness is a practice that gets better with consistency.
2. Self Care
Self care looks a little different after having a baby. Self care might look like a hot shower, a nap, 30 minutes alone, the more simple things that feel good in that moment can be just what you need to make it through that day. When you start truly listening to the cues your body gives you, you can act, and it eventually turns into a positive routine.
- What do I need to feel refreshed?
- What will help your mental and/or physical health in this moment?
3. Self Compassion
Babies have a flow of their own and we have to learn to align with that flow which can be a total 180 from what we are used to. Because of this, we don’t always get to act on the self care we need but rather, doing our best when we are able. It is a balancing act that takes a practice of self compassion, allowing grace and love for our bodies, minds, and emotions. Practice self compassion during the raw moments when you think you won’t make it until nap time, practice self compassion when you have negative thoughts about the body that created that beautiful being, practice self compassion when you don’t see the light at the end of that very long tunnel. YOU ARE HUMAN.
- Allow feelings to come up but actively try to turn it to a positive. This will encourage a natural routine where our thoughts flip to the positive without so much work. Example: When you find yourself impatient with your postpartum body, remember exactly what that body did for you, how strong it is, how it was made for this and how you are doing exactly the things you need to do to heal properly.
- Use Motherhood Mantras to affirm positivity to get you through your day. Find 30 Motherhood Mantras HERE.
- Forgive yourself and move forward from the moments that occurred due to the pure fullness of your mental load.
4. Implement Diaphragmatic Breathing
There are so many different tools that can help us navigate tough times but the one that I believe is most underutilized is simply breathing. Intentional, diaphragmatic breathing that is. Diaphragmatic breathing can be done anytime, anywhere to ease any emotion; trauma, anxiety, stress, grief, irritability, or just because…life. There really doesn’t need to be a reason because there are so many benefits to a regular breath work practice. There are also many different breathing techniques but diaphragmatic breathing is a great starting place. It has been studied that this type of breathing can have beneficial effects on physical and mental health, stress and negative emotions can be counteracted, and can enhance sustained attention.
Not only can diaphragmatic breathing lower stress responses the body produces but it can also improve pelvic floor musculature which should be a focus for women’s wellness. The diaphragm and the pelvic floor are synergists, they work together with inhalation and exhalation. They are both hammock like muscles that do the same thing at the same time. So, with inhalation, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor both drop, creating space in both the lungs and the pelvis. With exhalation, these muscles lift with the vacuum effect that takes place in the body. These two important muscles work best when the body is properly aligned. So, this is where posture becomes important for the pelvic floor and lungs to work autonomously.
Using this as a tool to calm, relax, fall asleep, use during exercise and yoga, whenever you need a little refresher to re center. This tool can keep the mind and body functioning at optimum health. Breathing is something that we don’t have to think about doing, but when we, occasionally, put a little intention behind our breath, it can create less resistance in the flow of life.
Learn how to take diaphragmatic breaths HERE.
5. Focus on the Physical Work you CAN do
Why is the Physical Work So Important?
- To ﬁnd our center of gravity, to be centered and conﬁdent in our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual states.
- To prevent or treat any pelvic floor issues.
- To prevent or treat any back and hip pain.
- To improve sexual function, sexual pain, and sensuality.
- Improve blood flow circulation to promote healing and healthy reproductive, gastrointestinal, and urinary systems.
- Cultivation and balancing of Shakti- the divine feminine energy that represents the Goddess within you.
- We can’t necessarily change the external world around us but we can change our internal state which radiates outwards to help create a better world.
Carrying baby carriers, breastfeeding, putting baby in the car seat, caring for other children, the list goes on.Carrying and delivering a baby is HARD WORK and tough on the physical body. It took 9 months to carry baby, it takes much longer than just the 6 week check up to be properly healed, especially if you have had a c section.
The pelvic floor muscles take the brunt during pregnancy which is why it should be the epicenter of proper physical healing. It takes a delicate approach to stabilize the pelvis after delivery. The pelvis and core needs to come back together after widening and that takes an intentional approach. It takes physical strength to be a Mom (carrying baby carriers, breastfeeding, putting baby in the car seat, caring for other children, etc). so starting with the foundation as early as day 1 after delivery can set your body up for optimal function. When we feel well parenting seems easier.
Pelvic floor/core stabilizing, softening, and strengthening exercises that can be done from as soon as 24 hours after birth…
- Kegels or Pelvic floor activation and release. This takes practice and the release is just as important as the contraction. So starting with a 1:2 hold to release ratio working your way up to a 10 second hold/ 20 second release.
- Mula bandha engagement
- Diaphragmatic Breathing
- Mindful movement
When we can focus our attention to tasks that will set our bodies up for an ideal healing environment we allow ourselves to make the most of the process. We can find peace in knowing we are doing our best while our mind and body benefit.
While you may be day dreaming of the day you can run again, lift again, or just feel like yourself again, there are important things you can be doing to enable healthy healing. Postpartum healing is unique to each individual but most of all be patient and loving toward yourself. Your body depends on your mind and your mind depends on your body and you can control the cycle. You can be the best Mom by just doing YOUR best!
If you would like further information on Ultimate Postpartum Wellness Recovery for the mind, body, and soul, check this LINK out.