We asked Chloe from Stretched Mums Yoga to write a guest blog for us and when I read it, it took me straight back to those first weeks. How I wish I’d met her then…
Concepts like “recovery” or “rest” often conjure up ideas of weakness, which is weird when you think that Olympians – the highest performing athletes in the world – understand the concept very well.
They know that you need to rest in order to go out and smash a gold medal. That the body and mind need preparation and recovery before they dial up to their highest setting again.
But when it comes to the postnatal period, there’s very little discussion or focus on the idea that we might want to plan or be in charge of our own recovery. There’s a strange cultural silence around what happens after the baby is born, because we’re so worried about frightening pregnant women that we think it’s better to just not mention anything at all.
I think that the opposite is true – that it is empowering to be the ultimate boss of your own self-care, the curator of your own recovery package. Acknowledging that our bodies and minds are put under more duress in pregnancy and birth than they ever will be again is not a sign of weakness. It’s a fact and a testament to the ultimate fierceness required to bear and mother a child.
Recovery and progression are often slower than we might expect and it’s easy to feel impatient and frustrated. It can take great strength to readjust our expectations and design our lives to prioritise our own mental and physical health as we navigate this path. It can mean being courageous enough to reach out and ask for help even though it goes against your deeply held belief that strength is self-sufficiency. It can be banning visitors for the first month. It can be saying “sorry I can’t come, I’d love to see you but today I have to prioritise preserving my energy”.
All other aspects of your postnatal recovery will be individual to you. Only you can decide what you need and when. It might involve:
– staying at home in your pyjamas for weeks
– getting out for some fresh air or going to a gallery to feed your soul even though you’re sleep deprived
– telling your office you don’t want a baby shower but instead vouchers for healthy ready meals delivered to your house
– investing in a doula to support you at home
– resting even if you can’t sleep
– making an appointment with a pelvic floor specialist
– going for a solitary walk around the park while someone else holds the baby
– having a glass of wine with your best friend on your sofa
– Skyping your mum at 11am every day
– Going to a postnatal yoga class
It can be very helpful to think about how you might want your postnatal recovery to look before you have a baby. Like a birth plan, it can be helpful to have this as a set of preferences with the proviso that you can change it up depending on how you feel when you’re in the thick of it.
Motherhood is something to be ultimately celebrated but is also an initiation that requires great care and support. But there’s help and resources out there, and people who will encourage you and be your cheerleader. You’re really not alone, and feeling that you’re in charge of your postnatal destiny can be a huge game-changer.
Chloe’s Post Natal Yoga course will be starting here at Punk Me Up on Tuesday April 23rd at 1.30 – 2.30 and booking in advance for the whole course is available here or for individual sessions (if available) via hoop.