Sarina Beasley, PT, DPT
My Postpartum Recovery Journey, part I
As I am now 6 1/2 months postpartum from baby #2, I have realized so many changes in myself since becoming pregnant over one year ago. Part of the reason behind creating Pittsburgh Pelvic Health was to be able to make a positive impact on the postpartum journey that so many of us women go through. What this journey looks like for each person is completely different from the next - and can look very different each time around, both mentally and physically.
Today was the first day that I can say that I comfortably left my baby at home to go for a run without feeling the guilt of not being present. Six month - yes, SIX MONTHS. I could go on about the mental aspect of the postpartum journey, but we can save that for another day.
My main form of exercise prior to my first pregnancy, during both, and after my first was road running. It was convenient and quick - throw on my shoes, walk outside, start my watch and get going. After my first was born, I started taking him in the jogging stroller. Again, quick and convenient, and mentally fulfilling. This time around I'm finding a major mental block that keeps me from throwing my Brooks on and heading out the door. I'm slow and weak. I still haven't been able to shake the baby weight and my clothes don't fit quite right. It's depressing to say the least.
I've personally found a need for something different
The first time around was so simple to "get back to my old self." I was put on activity restrictions less that halfway through my last pregnancy that forced me to stop running. This time, I've really struggled. Not wanting to leave a much needier baby, stress of working long hours, the need to share attention with my older son. Forget trying to get out and run the hilly neighborhood where a wide open space ahead of me only perpetuated the mental suffering of how weak I've become.
After a recent impromptu trail race I participated in, I've realized how much more I have enjoyed getting back out on the trails. Before I had my first baby, I was able get straight to the park after work and on weekends - no stress of leaving anyone behind. I love the fresh air and changes in scenery on every path. Today was no exception. Was I slower than I used to? Yes. Were there A TON of hills to climb? Of course! But for some reason, I felt strong and confident. I found peace in the ability to be surrounded by nature without others to judge my need to stop and walk a few feet.
I encourage all of you on your journey to take a moment to ask yourself if you are suffering or are enjoying the moment. Being postpartum is HARD in so many ways. The expectation to "bounce back" - to fit into that LBD you wore for date nights - to quickly return to your prior level of activity. If you find that you are forcing yourself to get up at 5 am against what your body tells you or if you are dreading walking into the gym to do an hour of cardio, I encourage you to reframe your mindset and find something that fulfills you, not tears you apart inside.