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Physical and mental health
One of the most surprising parts of my postpartum journey has been how much pain and discomfort I've had in my body. I really should have listened to my grand-mother when she often urged me to make sure to have a supported posture while nursing. It really does go a long way. From diastasis recti, to mother's thumb, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, frozen shoulder, lower back pain to nerve impingement causing my hands to fall asleep throughout the day and night, it has been a really challenging journey for me. Not to mention the nervous system depletion from lack of sleep and just generally not handling stress very well. I've personally also struggled with chronic anxiety, panic attacks as well as postpartum depression.It can be a very dark time and a lot of the time I felt like I was drowning and in complete despair. This made every little tiny task feel like a giant mountain of an undertaking. And most days I wasn't able to take full deep breaths. Wow. Modalities such as massage, physiotherapy, cranio-sacral therapy as well as acupuncture have helped a lot. I'd also like to share with you what else has helped bring me back to a state of health and balance. Now, I feel strong, healthy and full of vitality again!
Tightly binding your belly after birth is a beautiful way to help close up the hips and abdominal muscles after birth. It also feels very supportive emotionally as it makes you feel held. There are many different versions out there so do some research to see what suits you best. Here is the one I used. I loved how easy it was to put on and take off. I was more inclined to wear it often. It really helped me a lot even though I didn't discover it until about a month postpartum! It is designed by a team of pelvic floor physiotherapists and postpartum pelvic floor fitness specialists.
I'd say the most crucial piece to consider for an overall physical recovery is how you nourish yourself. This website offers a daily sign-up program for people to bring you meals each day, for as long as you need the support. You can specify exactly what you'd prefer and when is the best time to drop-off. And the program is free! I personally chose to follow a more Traditional Chinese Medicine way of eating postpartum and so that is what I had requested. Also preferring no visitors for the first while. We had just moved to a new community, didn't really have any friends yet and no family but still, a warm meal was dropped off each day for a month by different people within the community. Sneaky little elves leaving care packages in our cooler on the porch. What a dream! It was super helpful. Making meals ahead of time and freezing them is also a great thing to do for those first few months especially.
Bellies inc. offers an 8 week online program called core confidence which gradually progresses you through a core exercise program that is designed for use in pregnancy, the first 8 weeks postpartum and as a restorative core program for people struggling with incontinence, prolapse and/or diastasis recti.
"Rebuild your post-baby core, pelvic floor and hips so you can do the things you love without pain, fear, or peeing yourself." This offers support through exercises and yoga which I loved! And I found it personally very effective!
Movement Medicine for the Modern Mama~ Embodied Coaching to Empower Women + Moms. Online classes of Embodied Movement, Therapeutic Yoga, 5 Element Wisdom, Meditation & Community. A beautiful way to find your way back to yourself postpartum.
This wonderful website offers information and courses with the primary commitment being to maternal health and the revival of true postpartum care. They say women are the heart and foundation of the people. Supporting Mothers supports healthy and empowered families, which supports thriving communities, which supports all of humanity.
Our mental health, as new mamas, takes a beating. There is so much newness, and your entire world is transformed in a way that feels like your time is no longer your own. And that is very challenging. I was in shock for a good two years, while adjusting to all the changes. I love being a mother and I enjoy it so so much. But still, there were times, when I didn't even recognize myself. There is nothing else in this world that rocks you in this same way and the amount of giving is just endless. We are adjusting to all this beautiful newness while being severely sleep deprived and constantly over-stimulated. It takes self-regulating to a whole new level. I hope to master it one day! Ha! I realized very quickly that my mind isn't as strong as I thought it was. Luckily, we have allies...and thank goodness for that! My personal ones have been herbal medicine, homeopathy, microdosing psilocybin, kundalini yoga, yoga, guided meditations by Sarah Blondin as well as the YouTube channel "Therapy in a nutshell". This channel saved my life! Emma McAdam is my angel. She offers free tutorials on how to overcome anxiety disorder and panick attacks. A few Instagram outlets have really helped as well such as MamaPsychologists whom are parenting and postpartum experts, as well as Fruits of Motherhood which "normalizes the sweet, the bitter and the bittersweet fruits of motherhood"! This last one can get quite funny. I always appreciate a good laugh! Afterall, parenting should be fuuuun! I sometimes forget that!
Of course, my husband, my family and my friends have played a massive role in maintaining a healthy mind. Both parents truly deeply need a network of support. Yes, a network. Not just one person once in a while. Just before my son turned 3, we moved to a communal land with lots of families around. That has felt also very supportive. So, create a village around you, because that's how we're meant to raise our kids! And never be afraid to ask for support. It doesn't make you weak, it makes you stronger. Humans love to help each other. You can't care well for others without first caring for yourself well. It's ok to lean on things that can help you keep a healthy mind.
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