Let’s be honest here. There are so many moving parts after having a baby. From your body not feeling like your body to this tiny human needing you every single moment of the day, to say your life just changed is an understatement. I want to shed some light on exactly what is happening inside your body in hopes you fall more in love and in awe of yourself.
Throughout pregnancy your body is increasing the amount of estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone is most widely known for being the pregnancy hormone, but did you know its also a neurosteroid? This means it helps produce more neuronal connections in our brains! Estrogen effects our brain too. It has been shown that neurons in our brain expand in the taste, smell and emotional areas of our brain which heightens our emotional intelligence. Our body is preparing us for new learning.
How cool that our body does this all by itself? It’s kind of like getting ready for a big move. You have to pack up your old space and get rid of the things that won’t serve you in your new space. Then once you are all moved in, you notice how much more space you have. Our brains do this as we transition into the role of motherhood.
Now the interesting part comes into play when we are in this space of learning (postpartum), we have so much coming at us! From figuring out what the heck our baby needs to what the heck we need, postpartum can come with a bit of stress. Now stress is totally normal, and our intelligent bodies can handle it. It’s when this stress lasts for a long period of time that it can wreck havoc on our precious bodies.
Our bodies respond to stress through the sympathetic nervous system or “fight or flight response”. This stimulates heart rate, breathing, muscular strength, palms sweat, pupils dilate, and hair to stand on end. It slows body processes that are less important in emergencies, such as digestion and urination.
Sympathetic Dominance can cause:
Feeling wired but tired
Experiencing anxiety or panic attacks
Unable to mentally slow down
Feeling constantly ‘rushed’
Feeling like you have to constantly be doing something
Increased blood pressure and blood sugar
Shoulder and neck muscle tightness
Sound like postpartum much?
Here are SUGGESTIONS and stay more present with our bodies. Please take them with a grain of salt, and please don’t add these to your to-do list. Pick one that calls to you and try it on, see how it feels.
Get good sleep- like the saying goes, Sleep when baby sleeps, but for real. Don’t stay up late trying to finish the baby book or to read the parenting book. There will be time for that. Consistent deep sleep helps heal our bodies, and that exactly what our body is craving. HEALING.
Eat nourishing food and drink lots of water- Making sure you are properly nourished is vital. Just as a well fueled car will go the distance, your body needs the same. Try to eat at least one fruit and vegetable with each meal. Fat intake is huge for our brains, which we know is changing at this time. You can find great recipes in the book The First Forty Days by Heng Ou. It is always a good idea to partner with a practitioner who understands the post-partum period to guide you in any extra supplementation you may need.
Gentle movement- walking 30 minutes a day spread throughout the day is a great way to get your blood pumping. You may be waiting to be cleared from your doctor to start any movement, but there are basic abdominal and pelvic floor exercises you can start right away. And even once you are cleared by your doctor that may not mean you are ready to start vigorous exercise. Your body just went through 9 months of change, respect that and don’t push it too soon. This may lead to more severe injuries.
Connect with Loved ones- the arrival of a new babe is so exciting, and everyone wants a piece of that new babe smell. But this is also your sacred time. Placing boundaries around who and when visitors can visit is crucial. This may even be a task for your partner to be involved in. Only you can decide who will bring good energy into your space. And make sure to continue these connections past the honeymoon phase. Reaching out in a time of need may just be exactly what you need.
Limit your Social Media- for any new mom, seeing tailored photos of the “perfect” life is going to trigger the comparison game. At this time in your life, you want to surround yourself with a community that promotes an array of different parenting styles and is open minded. And if you only get one piece of advise out of this entire article hear this: When people start giving you advice (such as I am doing now), it is all based on THEIR own experience. At the end of the day you will have to live with the choices you are making for your family, no one else. Do your best to remember that when discussing parenting advice with others.
Enjoy the moments- There is no doubt that the transition into motherhood is difficult. But there are also some really sweet parts too. When you are in one of those sweet moments, stop and close your eyes and integrate that into your system. Remember that there will be more of this.
Surrender to your season- just as the leaves turn brown, snow falls, then flowers start to spring we experience different seasons of life. This season is full of dirty diapers, bodily excretions, and a lot of unknown. The more you surrender to that, the more ease you will feel in your body. Trust that, and know that the season will turn sooner than you expect it to.
Balance your autonomic nervous system- as we discussed above, in a chronic state of stress our bodies can get stuck in sypathetics. Work with a practitioner that can help assess your autonomic system as well as provide home exercises.
Do you have mom friends that should hear this too? Share this with them, they’ll thank you for even thinking of them <3