Let's Change the Conversation
For the past week I've subscribing to an online summit for birth professionals. Lynne Schulte, a local pelvic PT and one of the leading players in postpartum birth recovery, hosts this every year. Birth professionals from around the world come together over the interwebs to share their latest findings, ideas for research, and how they best serve their clients from many different angles. One thing that's missing in the conversation? How to get your client to lose the baby weight in a short amount of time. Why? Because it's bullshit, it's not sustainable, it completely misses the point of the postpartum experience, and we're all really F*king sick and tired of hearing about it.
I started working with moms 10 years ago as "just" a personal trainer. When I started seeing women throughout their pregnancy and early on postpartum, I knew we had to change from a weight-loss goal to a recovery one first. (Especially when, 10 years ago in NYC, the popular birth choice was a scheduled C-section.) My clients would return to me after major abdominal surgery, and things were just "off. They were completely exhausted, simple exercises "felt bad" or there was a sudden change in the execution of their movements, and they were SO stressed out. Knowing what I know now.... this all makes complete sense. Why the hell did we ever encourage women to get back into the gym after birth??? Our cortisol levels are through the roof, most of us suffer from extreme adrenal fatigue, many of us experience physical and emotional birth trauma, and FFS there's a baby that needs 100% of our attention. What I'm loving from this Summit is the change in conversation from nutritionists, healers, PTs, doulas, and other fitness professionals. Not a single one so far has even brought up weight loss. It's ALL focused on recovery and wellness... because our clients are in desperate need of it. If we are truly focused on helping our postpartum and prenatal clients, we need to emphasis healing over "body back". Of course, we have a LONG way to go. There are still hundreds of "wellness" companies all desperate to make money off of overwhelmed new moms. "Fit moms" posting "inspirational images" of themselves exercising unsafely trying to get you to buy their protein powder, "3 week challenges" hosted by untrained professionals promising quick results, and bootcamps focused on "mommy fitness" that encourage outdated and contraindicated movements that are extremely dangerous for moms and babies. What I can promise you is this, if you really want "results" after having a baby... we have to repair before we can rebuild. The motto I share with my clients all the time is this:
Pregnancy and birth, (regardless of how baby came out of you), is like a car accident on your body.
You would never push yourself to get back into your "pre car-accident" clothes or "look good in a bikini" after getting in a major car crash... so why the hell are we convinced we need to do so postpartum???
Does it mean you can't have a personal goal of getting your core recovered, flat, and strong? Hell no.
I was back in my pregnancy jeans in 3 weeks and I've had many a client get serious physical results postpartum. But I train my clients safely. I teach them techniques that work from the inside out... and that's how you get long-lasting results. My workouts are a slow progression that avoid high-impact exercises, stresses proper postural and breathing technique, trains new and soon-to-be moms for real parenting, and they work.
You don't need to add shame, fear, stress, or negative body-talk in order to achieve a personal best; but for whatever reason, we've allowed that negativity in the postpartum space. We've somehow allowed trainers who are not certified to train and create extremely popular programs. We've let marketers shame us into feeling bad about our bodies, and sell us products and programs we have no business doing. We've listened to many a celebrity boast about how they "got their body back", and told ourselves that's the overarching goal we should be focused on after building, extracting, and raising a new baby.
I'm really, really tired of this... and I think you are too.
Let's stop supporting negative body-talk, stop buying products who are selling us with shame marketing, check the credentials and experience of the people we listen to, and bring the conversation back to the real needs of new mothers. Let's train our bodies with the respect it deserves, and allow our bodies to heal completely before we start a new goal postpartum. Let's give ourselves a lot of time and grace while we're in the thick of pregnancy and parenthood.
That, my friends, is a conversation I'd rather be having.