Updated: May 17, 2020
Moms sacrifice quite a bit when it comes to bringing babies into the world. Our bodies morph into unrecognizable round protrusions, we can become overwhelmed with fear, emotions, and pregnancy 'no-no's' as well as physically being unable tie our own shoes. While pregnancy and new parenthood can come with some perks (best excuse to get out of anything, ever!), I think its beyond reasonable to wish for life to return to as close to pre-baby as possible.
What I find over and over again when working with clients is that many moms resign themselves to a sub-par existence because they are told over and over again that once motherhood hits---that’s it. You’re a mom. You are expected to roll with any and all punches that come with that decision, no matter what. While some amount of self sacrifice is a given, no-one tells you that so many symptoms, signs, and feelings can and should be remedied!
Although motherhood does permanently change a woman in countless ways (many of them wonderful), here are 6 things you do NOT have to ‘just deal’ with after babies.
1. Never Sleeping Again. (Had to start with this one as a SC!) We hear this from our parents, our friends, and our friends of friends on the daily when we’re pregnant. To a person who loves loves LOVES her sleep, those are fightin’ words. As a Sleep Consultant and Momma of 2 (+1 on the way!), this was one aspect of motherhood I was just not willing to accept. Sure, there is a certain amount of sleep that is sacrificed at certain points in parenthood, but getting the sleep you need after having kids is not a pipe dream. The best piece of advice is to plan ahead. I always tell clients to write down and visualize your sleep goals for your family. What do you want sleep to look like down the road? What are your ideal amount of hours per night for your kids and yourself? Often this helps re-channel our nervous bedtime energy into taking intentional action that will help avoid sleep deprivation.
2. The 'Mom Pooch'. Or in other words, diastasis recti. Many of us experience the lovely result of our abdominal wall separating to accommodate a growing belly. After the baby is born, those abs do not come back together automatically and result in ‘mom pooch’, or a round midsection that many moms cannot seem to exercise or diet away. The good news is, there are many professionals who can help. I recommend working with a PT or OT post-partum with pelvic floor expertise. There are also countless videos and exercise programs available if you are more inclined for the DIY version. OR you can rock this like a badge of honor for bringing another human into the world. It does not matter to me that we look perfect, but just know that there are treatments out there.
3. Painful Sex. Alllll Moms can relate to the anxiety that comes with intercourse after a baby. Yes there will be some natural discomfort your first go at it-- but truly painful sex, although being a very common occurrence, is not something you should or have to live with. As a matter of fact, any type of pelvic pain can and should be addressed by a pelvic floor therapist. Please, do not ‘just deal’ with this one. Moms deserve pleasurable sex too!
4. Peeing Yourself. This is one side effect of pregnancy that mom’s seem to ‘just deal’ with the most. Just know that any loss of urine during activity or sneezing is not normal and does not have to be your new normal. Pelvic floor exercises can address common incontinence issues. And what do you know? Pelvic Floor therapists are experts at addressing this too!
5. Losing your sense of self. This one hits home for me personally. Motherhood certainly takes hold of you when you have babies and is all-consuming for a while, but I believe it is paramount that we not forget who we were before babies. Motherhood is the most important job you will ever have—it’s exhausting trying to raise good humans! BUT your prior career, your interests, your hobbies, and your social groups were all made better because of your contribution. Don’t forget that. Take time for yourself and feel absolutely no guilt or shame when you spend time and energy on YOU, even if it’s just getting your hair done. You are a Mother (synonymous with warrior, superhero, and miracle-worker) but you are also many, many other things.
6. The Blues. The blues can be characterized as frustration, hopelessness, constant fear and worry, disconnect with your baby, resentment towards your partner or baby, as well as feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, or anger. Whether you think you just suffer from the blues or true anxiety and depression, you do NOT have to ‘just deal’. When in doubt, talk it out. We see more and more research on how common mental health issues are for moms post-partum. Never be afraid to talk to your MD, your friends, your partner…or literally anyone about how you are feeling. There are many ways to resolve these feelings, whether it’s through medication, therapy, or holistic medicine. Many of us don’t even recognize our symptoms as the blues, anxiety, or depression. Know that these issues are not in your control, you are not alone, you are not a bad mom.
There is a reason why on an airplane the flight attendant instructions say: "put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others with theirs". Take it from a momma who has experienced each and every one of the things on this list. I'm with you. Let's practice some self-care together.