The pressure of bouncing back!
Can we all just stop talking about "Getting your body back”…..? Where exactly is it supposed to have gone?
Don’t you just hear this all the time. It’s on Instagram, it’s in magazines, on tv, it strategically used for bootcamps and workout or diet regimes. Is it just me who absolutely HATES it! I especially despise its use in relation to “bouncing back after baby”, as if you have to bounce back to that woman that you were before you had a baby, or whatever life changing event happened to you. Which, lets be honest, is complete nonsense.
In a society which is so completely obsessed with aesthetics, I think the terms "getting your body back" and "bouncing back” can apply a certain pressure to women. As if “normal" was only what they were before their pregnancy….. When you go through something major, such as pregnancy, it changes you mentally, emotionally and physically. And when these major things occur, aren’t we supposed to use it as a tool to learn, adapt and improve? Not revert back to what or who we were before our situations changed us! We are not meant to remain the same.
The changes you experience in pregnancy are unparalleled, you will quite literally never be the same again. And this is not a bad thing. Its actually an amazing thing. When you realise that your body has grown and nurtured a baby, then birthed this baby, which is roughly the same energy expenditure as running a marathon; you realise that your body is so incredibly strong. So resilient. And capable of things you didn’t know possible. So why bounce back to before?
Despite this revelation, there is still the pressure to be a certain way. Hearing my women tell me “I hate my belly”, “I don’t recognise myself”, “I’ll never be in shape again”, “why can’t I bounce back?” is soul destroying. Why are women even expected to bounce back anyway? And what are you going to bounce back to? The woman who never had a baby, who had different priorities, had one child instead of 3, who wasn’t leaking from her boobs, who slept a solid 8 hours each night, who could sit up just using her core strength and who wasn’t having the worlds longest period after squeezing a human out of her vagina? That woman, she is different now.
I prefer to think of it as evolving. You are now a mum, partner, you stay at home, you go to work, you have postnatal depression, you are the happiest you have ever been, you love your post pregnancy body, or you hate it. Or all of the above. Instead of bouncing back, we should be addressing these feelings, these individual circumstances and we should be working on that evolution with them in mind.
Evolving from the woman you were, to the new woman you are now. Taking in to account what your body and mind have done. And starting from this point to progress in to a healthier, happier you, based on your goals. Going backwards is never a good goal. As women we are under such scrutiny, such pressure to look, act, perform a certain way, more often than not from ourselves and our peers. And not to mention social media. But remember, people aren't all they post that they are!
What we need is this perspective to be shared throughout the fitness community as well. I recently went to a postnatal class at Mamabfit at Smart Fitness here in Dubai. It is ran by a British midwife and PT. What I really liked about it was that at no point was there any talk about “bouncing back”. There was discussion about what having a baby does to you physically and how to correctly approach training as a new mum, taking personal circumstances in to account. This is what needs to be promoted. This is the kind of training support postnatal women need. There was not one second where an ideal was placed in front of these women which would apply any sort of pressure.
Setting goals in the postnatal training period, or any period of your life, is an invaluable tool. I firmly believe that. But we have to remember that they are achieved through time and hard work. Be flexible with your methods. Be kind to yourself. Don’t feel like you have to bounce back to anything. You just need to continue evolving in to this awesome woman, who recently delivered a tiny human, amongst all the other epic things she has achieved this far.
For Midwives, Doctors, Physiotherapists and Personal Trainers…… can we please remember the impact terminology has on our patients. I am also guilty of not thinking things through before I say them sometimes. But the effect of certain terminology can negatively impact women. It can apply pressure. It can make them question their bodies, their emotions, their mental strength. And that is just plain wrong. I don’t need to share the evidence (though if you want it, I have it in abundance), we all just need to make sure we are using positive terminology, to remind our women just how amazing they are, whether they are back training at 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years. The main aim should be encouraging a healthy and confident women though training,nutrition, positive mental wellbeing, peer support and education.
Let's not go back in any way.... especially by bouncing. Let's just concentrate on the best way of evolving forward, supporting each other every step of the way.