- Have you had a baby and feel like you are trying to get your body back, but it’s not working?
- Are you feeling like you don’t fit in your own skin after having children?
- Do you want to be active and strong, while taking care of your kids AND yourself?
Let’s be honest, your body changes after having children no matter how many kids you’ve had. There is no “getting your body back” and that fallacy should be transformed into “finding your new norm”.
Becoming a mom can be one of the most amazing changes in your life and challenging all at the same time! There are so many books and advice about what to do when you have your baby, how to feed them, how to sleep train, how to become the best Mom that everyone wants to be…and more!
BUT, the information that is not out there as commonly is what can happen to your body after having kids. Our bodies change so much during pregnancy AND postpartum. We need to improve the level of care for our moms after baby to make sure that they get what they need.
There is a huge emphasis on your newborn and most of the concern is diverted away from YOU, the woman helping to take care of this new little one.
So, Let’s Talk a Little About What Happens to Your Body After Baby!
Your stomach will unfortunately not change instantly after having your baby and remember, it took 9 months for your body to prepare for your birthing time. BUT we do live in a society of instant gratification, and we expect that things will change overnight.
In the third trimester of pregnancy, your muscles will separate in the middle of your stomach at a band of connective tissue called the linea alba. The reason why this is important is because the muscles do not always come back together on their own. Sometimes we need guided exercises that will specifically help the abdominals to get stronger, lessen the separation and prevent injuring your body (or back).
Many women come into physical therapy saying that they want to “close the gap” of their abdominals. That being said, some women’s abdominals completely come back together, and other’s do not ever completely close. The important part of this is that you need to make sure that you can strengthen your abdominals and prevent any separation that you may have from worsening. Protect your body, prevent back pain, be able to lift up your kids without feeling unstable along your system are some of the goals of physical therapy postpartum.
So right now, try to find your deepest abdominal muscles called the transversus abdominals. Put your hands on your hips bones and then walk your fingers towards your middle where is gets soft, you are into muscle. Try to tighten these muscles by saying “haaa” and then holding the contraction while continuing to breathe! Can you hold this for 10 seconds and repeat it 10 times while making sure to keep breathing?! This is the start of your strengthening program.
What Else Happens to our Bodies When We Have These Amazing Little Ones?
Our pelvic floor is greatly affected no matter how you deliver your baby, vaginal, cesarean section, or both! These muscles live under our bladder, bowels, and uterus to help all these systems work. They are impacted during our pregnancies, during our birthing time and then need to heal afterwards.
There are many women that have leakage of urine after having their babies. And yes, I am even talking about you leaking with sneezing and coughing! Most people think that it’s something that just happens with having kids and that they should just accept it.
Women also struggle with urgency meaning their bladder is giving them NO time to make it to the bathroom and they are constantly running to the toilet. This is not fun when you have a small baby relying on you for their every need and your bladder is ruling your life (no one wants to live in the bathroom or be constantly searching for one when you are not at home).
Also have you heard about prolapse of your pelvic organs? Prolapse is something that can really scare you because things just feel out of place after having babies. And it’s super scary when you feel like something is coming out of your body, have strong pressure and heaviness (especially after having a full day on your feet).
Our babies come out in the safest way possible (ideally), but that does not mean that the pelvic floor muscles aren’t injured in the process. It’s common for women to have tears, episiotomies, incisions and more during their birthing time that all must heal afterwards. Throw on sleep deprivation, trying to balance out all the things that still have to get done and then your partner wanting you to return to intimacy…intimidating right?!
You get the idea that our pelvic floor is greatly affected with having children and we need to make sure that we get help so that all these areas can heal properly.
Speaking of this area of the body, there can also be a lot of impacts to our gastrointestinal system during pregnancy and afterwards. Constipation is very common due to our babies pushing our intestines out of the way as they are growing. Getting your bowels back on track is very important for your health and your pelvic floor physical therapist can help you with a program!
And then there is the chronic back pain that may start during your pregnancy but never disappear. Back pain does not magically go away after you give birth and it’s something that you need to work on. Think about it from the perspective that your body had to change and accommodate to fit your growing baby. Your hips had to spread, the ligaments along your pelvis loosen, your abdominals separate, your pelvic floor impacted and more.
After baby, you need the proper guidance on what muscles to strengthen, what areas to stretch and what muscles to work on control and coordination. Did you know that in France, every woman is sent to pelvic floor physical therapy after they have their babies?
What’s The Worst Thing That Could Happen?
You learn about your body and get set on a program to ensure that you can get back to doing all the things that are important to you (in addition to your family).
Once you have worked on your body to balance your system, you will blink and it’s time to go back to work. Finding your work life harmony is a challenge and something that is going to be different for everyone. This also may change as you have more kids, and your family dynamics shift.
We in general are naturally judgmental of others and this happens a lot as Moms. You get judged for going back to work and you get judged for staying at home. You get judged for breast feeding and you get judged for formula feeding your baby. You get judged for sleep training and you get judged for never sleep training your baby. Let’s be honest, you get judged for everything that you do as a mom.
Understanding this and realizing that we are all in this together, is a pivotal moment to let go of some of the judgment and sometimes, just listen without responding to your mom friends as they are venting. Ask them if they want your help and opinion before just giving it to them.
Making time for everyone after having kids is super challenging and realizing what you need to maintain your relationships may be different than what someone else needs. You may be the mom that can have a bay and take a trip 6 weeks later leaving your little one at home without a care in the world. Or you may be the mom that does not want to leave your kids for years until you are ready. One of the pediatricians said to me right after I had my first baby, there is no right or wrong answer as a parent, except helmets, car seats and she was not a huge fan of football.
The point is that we all get judged for the decisions we make, the boundaries that we set and more as a parent. But there are few instances when there really is a right or wrong answer, there is just the best answer for you and your family.
One of the most important things in becoming a mom is to make sure that you are your best self. This means making time for yourself and the things that make you feel like you as a person, outside of a mom and all the other hats that you wear.
Your health is one of the most important things to you, keeping your family healthy and making sure that you can enjoy this life together. This all comes back to taking care of your body during and after you have your amazing babies. It’s important to see the right healthcare professional that will put you on a path to you becoming your best self, Mom Strong!
If you would like to learn more about this topic, check out my book, Mom Strong by Shaina Clemons to read more about living your best life with your family. Hope that this sparks your interest in taking care of you so that you can be your best self to take care of your baby too!