I truly believe that pregnancy and childbirth is the most amazing miracle ever. Every time one of my friends tells me they’re expecting, my eyes well up with tears and the biggest smile takes over my face. Its’ something so incredibly special and really hard to put into words. To this day, despite the excessive weight gain, I was fortunate to have very healthy pregnancies and I look back on them with such fond memories….I loved being pregnant. LOVED IT! Feeling the baby move inside was something I will cherish forever.
While I had healthy pregnancies, my deliveries were not so great. With my first (who is now 14), I was past my due date, got induced, didn’t progress and ended up having a c-section. But the outcome was that my son was healthy and that was all that mattered to me. We got home, somewhat settled, and then 2 weeks later I ended up with some post-op complications that required 3 months to heal. All the while trying to figure out how to breast feed for the first time, stop a crying baby, and maybe, just maybe get 3 hours of sleep in a row…mamas I know you can relate.
But things got better like they always do, so we got pregnant with #2 two and a half years later. Because of my experience with post-op complications, I really wanted to try a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). I was told I was the perfect candidate; 2 years between pregnancies, young, fit and healthy. So that was my plan. But, my babe and body would have other plans. By the grace of God and being in the right place at the right time (always follow your intuition), with the right nurses and docs on staff, my second labour turned into an emergency c-section because of a weak uterine scar that my daughter felt would be the easier exit route. I remember waking up from the surgery (I was put under a general anesthetic), looking at my black and blue, stapled up stomach and just crying…..but again, the damage to my body was worth it right?….I was able to hold my healthy daughter (who is now almost 12).
Then reality settles in. It’s hard….really hard. You watch your body change, your hormones are out of control, your clothes don’t fit, you can’t move like you used to, your identity changes and you lose all control. You tell yourself it’s all great because the baby is the bigger picture…and it IS….but still, it’s hard.
I want to say here too that not all stories are like this, mine was an exception. I know so many women who have AMAZING birthing experiences! But I also know the reality for some. AND that our bodies are NOT the same after baby. Although some women bounce back very quickly, it is important to understand that pregnancy and birth are trauma on the body. In fact, over the past 2 years I have learned a lot about the effects of pregnancy on our bodies, the common but not normal post-partum changes we women feel are just supposed to be a part of our life ‘because we’ve had kids’….
….like the mom ‘pooch’, peeing when you jump or cough or god-forbid laugh too hard, or the good ol’ ab separation that pops up like a tent when you do a crunch or sit up. And it can be even worse….your uterus could prolapse.
And this is where I want to tell you about my friend (who also happens to be the step-mom to my two children) – Lindsay. I’m make it a brief story because I really want you to hear it from her. But, she was given the typical 6 week check-up medical clearance to go back to ‘life’. Being an avid gym goer and fit woman before pregnancy, that’s just what she did. And the next thing she knew she had a very significant uterine prolapse. I encourage you to reach out to her to hear her story – it could just change your view on a few things.
While this happened to Lindsay, I was also becoming more involved in the fitness industry. I have always considered myself an athlete and had taken on weight training more regularly because I love everything about it. But what I observed was this constant ‘tenting’ my abs would do with every crunch or sit-up, v-up, Russian twist, leg lift, and even with all this ab work, I could never really get a flat tummy. I also had intermittent tweaks in my low back with weight training, minor bladder leaking, and I always had this nagging feeling in my right hip joint that no chiro, RMT, Osteo or physio could seem to release for me.
This combination of events led me to Bellies Inc. (www.belliesinc.com). A trio of Pelvic floor Physios and Personal Trainer who created a Core Confidence Certification Program. Lindsay and I both took this course, along with our friend Erica, and I can tell you it not only changed the course of our own personal training and activity, but also sparked what would become our new mission. A mission that empowers women to understand their bodies, respect them for the miracle baby homes they are, and then to love them enough to properly rehabilitate them post-pregnancy.
I am proud and empowered to say, that even 12 years post pregnancy, with the help of Dr. Sinead Dufour, Pelvic Health Physio and the education from the Core Confidence Program, that I have rehabilitated my diastasis – that tenting of my abs no longer happens, my back is strong, my hip discomfort has disappeared and I am better connected to my body; and I have a flat tummy! A strong inner core (which is what we teach women to train), has enabled me to live a better quality of life……
So to answer the question “will my body ever be the same?” The answer is no….it won’t, how could it be when it grew a baby! But it CAN be STRONGER….you can educate yourself before, during and after baby. Reach out to us to learn more. Seek an assessment by a qualified Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and work with trainers or fitness instructors who understand the trauma a woman endures from pregnancy and childbirth. If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms I just talked about, it doesn’t mean your life is over….it means your body needs a little extra TLC and some specialized re-training that will honor, strengthen and empower it.
We’re here to help you…www.everydayfit.ca