The No Ahole Rule
A recent conversation with a client fueled a little fire and I would like to discuss return to exercise after baby. If you read this blog regularly you know how passionate we are at Foundational Concepts regarding rehabilitation after delivery. We have to recognize that carrying and delivering a baby is no joke. Understanding that our bodies can withstand some pretty intense change and injury is also important. We need this to resonate. Respecting what our bodies are able to do and giving ourselves time to heal is imperative.
My client voiced concern about her first class back at a barre class. She had waited 16 weeks post delivery due to my recommendations, giving herself the grace to heal and rehab so she would return strong enough. Upon her return a woman in the class commented, “You’re 16 weeks post-partum and this is your FIRST class back? Wow, I came back to this right away at 6 weeks!” It was implied that she was falling behind, not keeping up with the other women who pushed themselves back at 6 weeks. My client expressed her frustration and how it made her feel badly despite her knowing that she was making great gains with her therapy and her strength.
I want to share with everyone what I shared with my client. Disclaimer: I am certainly not bashing barre class or any form of exercise. This story just happened to be regarding barre. Exercise is good for us. It is important and I support any and all kinds. However, post-partum is a time to heal and return slowly as you are ready.
First: There needs to be a No Ahole rule. I live by it, and so should you. People who make statements like the one above don’t deserve your emotional energy. It is hard to shrug off a comment like that, but you should.
Second: YOU are the smart one. You saw a provider to help you rehab, to allow your body the time it needed to be ready to return to exercise. YOU are getting more out of that barre class than she is, because you know how to engage the proper muscles and you know your muscles and tissues are ready to handle it. Remind yourself of that.
Postpartum is No Joke
Third: Post-Partum is still a strain on your body. You just spent 9 months growing a human, an amazing feat that does not come without sacrifice. Physically, the abdominal wall and pelvic girdle suffer the consequences and have been under quite a bit of strain the last few months. After delivery, your tissues have undergone great stress to deliver a baby. Now you are recovering from the physical strain of that feat, not to mention the fluctuation of hormones, the emotional roller coaster of motherhood and likely breastfeeding. Your body does not have a lot of energy to put toward high levels of exercise right away. Respect that.
Respect What Your Body Has Done
Your primary focus is keeping a human alive. That is powerful. That is important. Hitting a barre class is not. Taking a walk outside with your baby is likely better for you physically and mentally (particularly if you will just feel shamed by returning to class too late, or not being thin enough, or not in the right size clothes…blah blah blah). We all go through our post-partum recovery at different intervals. Some women drop weight quickly during breastfeeding, many of us keep weight on until we stop breastfeeding. Some of us have incontinence after delivery. Some have prolapse. Some have pain with sitting, pain with bowel movements or pain with sex. The beauty of pregnancy and delivery is that it is your story, uniquely you. Post-partum recovery is no different.
Let’s Lift Each Other Up
Women. Sisters. Friends. Please stop shaming each other. Surround yourself with women who celebrate you, who encourage you, who inspire you. Make it a point to lift each other up. When a woman comes to a class and says its been 16 weeks since baby, your reply should be, “Its so great you are back!”. PERIOD. Who cares when or why she is back at that timeline? She doesn’t care when or why you returned. Stop making it a contest. You have no idea what that woman has been going through these 16 weeks after delivery. LIFT HER UP.
Take Your Time
If you are expecting or have just delivered a baby, take the time to heal. Enjoy that baby, and work on returning to exercise slowly. Click here for several of our post-partum and pregnancy blogs to help you along the way. We believe strongly that every woman can benefit from a consultation with a specialist in women’s health to help her know what her strength is, whether or not there is any dysfunction and how to rehab from it. This allows you to return to the exercises you want safely and confidently.
-Sarah Dominguez, PT, MSPT, CLT, CMTPT, WCS