Our postpartum culture is quite interesting. Women have babies and suddenly, they're expected to bounce right back.
Did you know that in the Chinese culture, women don’t get out of bed for 40 days? These women are being taken care of and being cooked for as she gets the rest her body needs. Her only job is to nurse and cuddle with her baby.
We live in a fast paced world where if we’re not out and
about within days after baby is born, we feel like we need to be doing more. We’re feeding around the clock and transitioning to a new life and we need to remember that a baby isn’t the only one that has been born, a mother has too.
I was on social media the other day and had seen a mom, 4 weeks postpartum running sprints, doing burpees and pushups in a high intensity workout. She was a fitness model before pregnancy, remained active during, and working hard to get her “body back”. This is an unrealistic and unsafe message to be giving new moms.
The fitness industry fails new moms in this respect. Everywhere I see, there is a new program geared to new moms, promising them to get their bodies back, without the knowledge to do so. This can affect these moms both physically and emotionally. This isn’t to say that these are bad trainers, most are great at what they do, they just don’t have the education or experience working with moms who have recently given birth. It’s like me teaching someone to powerlift. Sure, I’ve powerlifted with trainers who have the qualifications but it doesn’t mean that I should be coaching it to others.
I admit that at one time, I was a part of this problem but after experiencing it first had, I want to be a part of the solution.
For many moms, it’s not about the weight-loss but something much deeper. Adjusting to life as a mom can be very stressful as well as emotionally and physically exhausting. She may be nursing or trying to learn how to nurse, her hormones are everywhere and she’s probably not taking care of herself seeing that baby is her priority. She may not be herself and looking for something to fill that void.
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The problem is that as an industry that praises health, we are failing these women.
Many coaches are not screening them to see if their program is a good fit for their postpartum. Almost all fitness questionnaires (PAR-Q), ask is if there was a birth within the last 6-months but that doesn’t dig very deep. There is no discussion about the nature of birth, whether it was a traumatic birth, or even how a woman is feeling emotionally following the birth of her baby. We don’t even question if woman is emotionally fit for what she is about to take on.
Women need emotional support during this time and as I mentioned, it’s usually not about the baby weight. 11.5% of women experience Postpartum Anxiety and Postpartum Depression and many women don’t even realize they have it. Putting them through a fitness program when she is not ready for that type of intensity can do more harm than good. Exercise is typically a outlet to cope. When she’s being beat up in the gym, she’s beating herself up even harder.
We need to remember that new moms are being faced with a major life event and with that comes change which may be difficult. New moms need care and support, not to worked to the point of exhaustion!