The majority of women will end up giving birth during their lifetime. Because becoming pregnant and delivering are so common, they aren't often thought of as extraordinary experiences. The fact is though, pregnancy and delivery are unique to each woman and are a monument in the life of a woman.
There are topics surrounding pregnancy that may be uncomfortable or less exciting for new moms but knowing the facts, based on studying the anatomy and changing body of pre and postnatal women, can be a significant game changer for new moms.
Giving birth is a major physical event for a woman, not to mention the emotional and hormonal components. With this awesome experience comes challenges and changes. The extent of these challenges and changes are directly impacted by the woman's lifestyle choices and self care. After delivering your baby there is a period of recovery that should include rest and strengthening of stretched and damaged muscles and connective tissue.
If a new mom neglects caring for her body (although easily argued that she can't or doesn't have time), this can create muscle imbalances, issues with incontinence, weakness, compensation patterns, pain, and other issues.
You may be surprised to learn that once a woman has given birth to a child, she is forever considered postnatal. This is not merely to throw a label on her, but instead illustrates the physical impact having a baby plays on her physiology. It is no secret that many women feel they can't and probably won't ever have their pre-baby body back but, to me, that is laying down and surrendering to an idea that has been perpetuated through generations based on a lack of information surrounding pregnant women and recovery from child birth.
There is no doubt that a woman sacrifices a lot for her child, but her body doesn't have to be one of those things. Through strengthening exercises, good nutrition, stress management, and adequate sleep during and after pregnancy, a woman has more control over her immediate and long term recovery. Passively waiting and hoping is not an effective strategy and often can increase instances and severity of postpartum depression as well as physical complications.
Many women are unaware that they may begin doing light exercises immediately after delivering their baby. By this, I do not mean traditional gym exercises. Kegels, for instance, are exercises you can do in your hospital bed without anyone even knowing you're doing them. Increasing blood circulation to those traumatized muscles of the pelvic floor can help reduce swelling.
Slowly, you can and should increase your level of activity. With that said, if you experience pain, incontinence, bleeding, or pelvic organ prolapse, know that while common, this is not normal. The good news is that many of these symptoms can be treated and cured so speaking with a trusted professional is advised.
Women no longer have to suffer is silence. Make your postnatal physique your ideal body; one you feel great in. Maintaining your fitness throughout your pregnancy and postnatal period also is a wonderful way to prepare for any subsequent pregnancies and can help motivate you in staying the course. Knowing you have a choice is empowering and exciting for all women regardless of whether you chose to have a baby or not.
Julia Broome is passionate about health and exercise but is most excited about educating women concerning the short and long term impact of exercise on pregnant women and their baby.