There is a lot of pressure to return after a baby. One new mom explains why she is not returning to her regular workouts.
“I did not work out on my yoga mat for a while. corona classic is a pre-vaccine. I was pregnant at 4 weeks and didn’t know it. I knew it but had not yet had a baby.”
“I had 6 years prior to my first child being born, so I wanted to work out during my second child’s birth. I wanted to. I was going to do that. You know what they say about plans and God. Make plans, laugh.”
The pain in my body was almost immediate and it was related to my love for Baptiste power yoga. I went 40 weeks without a dog.
I half-heartedly did Child’s Pose when my lower back pain became a bit unbearable, but the closest I got to my former three-times-a-week practice was Savasana at the end of the day when I got into bed and went to sleep.
I asked my doctor if I could work out to get my body back after I had a baby.
My doctor said that it would hurt.
I tried my roller. I lost all my strength in one roll. I have worked my way up to 10. I have not done it on a consistent basis but I am getting there.
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The pressure to get my body back is internal. I know what I looked like before. I have outsized expectations about how I should look now that I am no longer pregnant, and how my clothes should fit.
It is also external. Every now and again my mother will remark, “You need to do some situps.” The quick quip stings and adds to the pressure and overwhelm I already feel as a parent.
And then there is society, always pushing us to get beach-ready. I will never forget the image R&B star Teyana Taylor posted after having her first daughter, showing her 6-day postpartum snapback with her abs intact. I for damn sure don’t look like that — let alone like my old self.
The pressure to snap back is not justified. The standard set on women is impossible because men and society find that aesthetic desirable.
“Beauty companies, health brands, and specialty fields in medicine have made their fortune by preying on the worst of women’s insecurities at some of the most vulnerable times in their lives.”
The fourth trimester is more like a year than 3 months. At a time when mothers are just focused on keeping a new baby alive — be it baby number one, two, three, or more — shouldn’t our society be more focused on giving grace and space for women and their babies to not only survive but thrive?
“I don’t give myself this grace often. I can only work out for a limited amount of time because I am a work-from- home mother.”
One time, I actually set my alarm for 5 a.m. I had excitedly subscribed to a new yoga podcast and figured I would wake up 90 minutes before the kids to have time to work out, pray, journal, and, all around, get myself back in alignment.
“The alarm went off. I got out of bed and went to work out, but I heard a baby’s cries in the bassinet beside my bed. It was as if she knew I was no longer with her. I planned to do something for myself without her.”
I got back in bed, dressed in my workout clothes, to nurse and lie hostage at the request of my dictator. I wore those workout clothes for the entire day, not even bothering to touch my toes.
I felt guilty, frustrated, disgusted, and even a bit ashamed. Though I’ve never said it out loud nor allowed my internal thoughts to give voice to the feelings, they are there — and loud: I’ve let myself go.
“When I see all of myself for too long, this thought and feelings are magnified. They inspire me to work out when I see a sideways glance at my belly or when I write about fitness. I don’t want to incorporate my daughter into my workout.”
“I don’t want to be a part of that life, where some mothers have the gusto to do baby-ups, baby curls, and a full-body workout in their living room with their nursers, crawlers, or toddlers hanging from their limbs. It is bad that my daughter treats me like a jungle gym.”
Working out, and doing yoga, is a sacred time for me. It’s time for me to both clear my head and move my body. To do something that is healthy, grounding, and healing. Call it selfish, call it lazy, but to include my baby in this practice makes it less self-care and more chore.
My yoga mat, towel, blocks, ball, and strap are all stored in a bag on a shelf in the corner of my closet. I will try to attend to my health and body once my baby girl is in day care.
I will accept a soft, pudgy mom-bod and a bigger butt, and when I take my kids to the beach, the beach will be satisfied with whatever body I give it.
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