Postpartum women want to know how long it’s going to take for them to be back to their baseline.
Here are my tips for answering that question:
1.Take what your MD or OB says with a grain of salt. An experienced primary care physician who focuses on prevention and maintaining good health reconfirmed to me that women’s health is still an emerging field. Your doc, however well-intentioned, really might not know the answer to this question. It might not have been part of their training at all. You might gather that you were “cleared” by your OB at the six week postpartum visit. But did you notice that the checks she did were kind of…minimal? (If that wasn’t the case for you, I’m thrilled!) You might want to lean more on listening to your own body, educating yourself about postpartum changes and how to cope with them, and seeking out healthcare professionals–maybe in lesser-known fields (physical therapists, postpartum doulas, trainers who work with the postpartum population ((me!))–who are knowledgeable about the large amount of recent research out there on women’s health.
2. Open your mind to welcome a new normal. Especially if you were very active before and during your pregnancy, you might be itching to get back to your normal routine. You will get back there. You will. But right now you have the chance to slow down and find a new–temporary–normal. I’d encourage you to get analytical about what you loved about what it is you can’t do right now, remembering that there were probably multiple factors that made it something you’re missing so much. Was your morning run not only how you stayed in shape, but also a way to coast through your metro commute still on an emotional high? Was your lifting routine also how you cleared your mind of your clients’ or students’ or patients’ problems? Was your hot yoga class what centered you–the one time of the day when you didn’t have to talk to anyone? Right now, you have a chance to grow. Change invites (demands?) growth: there are new things available to you that can give you what you’re missing. Take this opportunity to increase your repertoire, as therapists are wont to say.
3. Delete external pressure to get “back in shape.” You are an accomplished, amazing person who just did something awesome. Your self-worth is not based on how quickly you lose weight or any other nonsense like that. Did you know that in South Korea, a female news reader recently (April 2019, f’real) stirred up controversy because she dared to wear a provocative item while she presented the news? It was an item male anchors had been wearing for literally like since they first had TV news, with zero comment or controversy. Know what it was? Glasses. Insane! I love Korea. (I really do.) But that is some sexist sH%(! Anyway, reject those idiots who want to focus on whether you look “great” or not. That’s really, really not what it’s all about.
4. Finally, give your body time to change back. Nine months to grow, nine months to recover, one year to return. For a lot of people, two years to return. When I got that news, I was like nooooo! But the reality is, looking back, I gained -so much- from trying new things while I couldn’t do my usual ones. I honestly am stronger physically and emotionally now than I was even when I was kickin’ it at Muay Thai three nights a week. You don’t know what’s ahead of you. You’re going to grow so much. Turn that frown upside down.