New Moms face an enormous job every day. Not only are they responsible for caring for a new life but also making decisions about their own health and well being. How can a new Mom know if she is making a good decision? A woman’s body goes through massive change during pregnancy. Her organs are shifted, ligament soften, the rib cage and pelvis widen and skin stretches. During birth, there is tissue trauma which results demands a period of healing. After birth, new Moms’ face weeks to months of sleep deprivation. The profound gift of having a child is one that far outweighs all of the complexities that come with it. However, the struggles a new Mom faces are real and should not be minimized.
The struggles I am writing about are not with the essentials of parenthood. Instead, I am referring to the self inflicted pressures a Mom puts on herself fueled by media and social pressures. Consider the following true story about a woman named Ann…
Ann was a fitness professional and competitive cyclist and triathlete for 10 years prior to making the decision to have children. She and her husband tried unsuccessfully and ultimately used hormones to achieve a pregnancy resulting in a beautiful healthy baby boy. During the pregnancy, Ann, was careful to supplement with vitamins and minerals, exercise daily and eat well. Ann did everything she could to ensure physical health of she and her baby. Ann exoerienced a physically healthy pregnancy but struggled with her changing body. She compared herself to other Moms who trained during pregnancy and challenged herself to push through workouts. After delivery, Ann was overjoyed with the birth of her amazing baby boy. But, now the real struggles set in. Although she was an educated woman and knew how the body worked, Ann ignored that knowledge and set off on her plan to resume her training schedule. Ann worked out a diet and exercise plan. Between breastfeeding her new baby, Ann exercised. She worked hard and lost a lot of weight quickly. Ann felt proud of her accomplishment. But, what she did not realize was the goals she had were actually compulsions that resulted in unhealthy behavior.
Ann began to have joint pain, instability in her joints, mood imbalance and signs of nutritional deficiency. Ann pushed herself through extreme fatigue and under ate for months and her body, although it looked good on the outside, was suffering on the inside. Ann developed a diastasis recti and resulting instability through her pelvis. It showed up as joint pain and weakness. When Ann’s baby boy was six months old, her body was beginning to break down. Ann spent the next two years trying to recover her health. She suffered from a collection of health problems and was forced to face her body image issues. Once Ann was able to begin recovering her health she realized she missed some of the most precious time with her son because she was so stressed about what other people saw.
When I spoke with Ann about what caused her to make these decisions, she told me it was what she thought other people saw. Ann had always been the “fit girl”, the one who everyone looked to as an athlete. When her body started to soften and grow her mid panicked, thinking that she was losing her identity. There was no way to control these changes. Exercising and watching diet were the only ways Ann knew how to control her world.
This is a very extreme example of what some women go through when their perceptions over power their reality. Can you imagine the stress and pressure that a Mom puts herself through if she is facing these thoughts. It is my goal as a coach and educator to help Moms filter through these thoughts. Moms4health will help empower women to regain control through strength and nourishment. Stay tuned for exciting news to come!