7 Steps I Took to Heal My Postpartum Body
Once upon a time, I fell apart, emotionally, spiritually, physically, broken. Postpartum depression meets pelvic organ prolapse, meets adrenal burnout, meets chronic insomnia meets newborn meets plus 3 little kids. The fetal position in my bed was the most likely position you'd find me assumed in. It was ugly.
I reference this period in my life so often because it was such a critical time for me. I had to dig deep but also face a lot of things I had been running from, but no longer had the energy to run from. One of the biggest realizations I had to face was that I wasn't listening to my soul or my body. I hadn't been for years. It seems so loving to serve, to pour out, even righteous. It's what we women do so well. I can sleep when I'm dead I told myself.
I'm stubborn and strong. These characteristics have served me so well, and yet, have almost destroyed me. When I was alone and quiet, I had to admit that I needed help. I couldn't do it all on my own, and that this did not make me a failure, but rather a human in need of connection and support.
This realization is what I'm passionate about.
The Practical Steps I took towards healing:
- Going to my naturopath- My husband literally had to make me, he made the call and set up the appointment and watched the kids (bless that man) but I had to get in the car and go. I had a lot of resistance to spending money and time on myself. I had to power through and get professional help. Blood tests, man. Do it.
- Daily walks, outside whenever possible- this started so small, 5 minutes a day. But for me, this was so healing. The movement, alone, with my own thoughts were huge. As I healed, they grew longer, this became my podcast time. A time for me to learn or laugh and listen to whatever struck my fancy that day.
- Nourishing Liquids: Bone broth is king here, but also teas and hot chocolates and even coffees filled with yummy additions of collagen and herbs to support my healing and keep me hydrated.
- Diet: Keeping my diet nutrient dense and gentle for my healing and digestion. I highly recommend the cookbook The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou for inspiration and recipes.
- Gentle, intentional movement. Don't underestimate the power of gentle stretching and intentional low impact movements sprinkled throughout your day. It doesn't have to be a long workout session or 3 mile walk.
- Community - I found a book club that I go to weekly, to discuss thoughts bigger than myself, to hear other people’s stories and to be in community.
- Learning more about myself- I'm a creator. I don't feel good internally if I go too long without creating something. These tiny people I was creating bi-yearly were amazing, but I also needed other outlets for this to feed my soul, get to know you and feed your soul whatever that looks like for you.
If I could sit my then-self down, I would say something like this: “As a woman it's time to learn to listen to your body and your soul. It's time to learn that having needs doesn't make you needy but a human being, you are normal, not a failure. It's time to enter into a relationship with yourself, your body and your mind and your spirit, giving them the attention and listening ear, understanding and compassion you would give your best friend. It will feel strange and awkward at first, that's ok. You won't do it perfectly, ever. That's ok too. It's time to learn to observe yourself without judgement. To make observations and adjustments, taking the shame right out of it. Shame is killing you. Please don't listen to its lies. You were never designed to do this all on your own, but you also can't wait for someone else to save you. You have the power to take the next right step, that's all. And you will know what it is, if you slow down and ask yourself. It will be the thing that you don't want to do but know is good for you. Taking a nap and ordering unhealthy Chinese food, taking a shower instead of folding laundry, taking a walk without your kids, so that you can hear yourself for the first time this week. Don't scoff the small, because your healing will come through the small next right steps. The sooner you decide to stop waiting for a magic potion to fix you, and decide you are worth the hard hard work of the journey of the next right step, that's when your healing will come. And then find support, your people, they are out there. They too will sometimes be hard to find, but they are worth it. The people who love and support you not in words but in actions, by showing up and being there for you, they are also worth the heartache and effort it takes to find them. There is no formula, outside of walking through our pain to finding our freedom. And it's all connected, the physical and emotional and spiritual and every part of us is us. So, don't worry about working on each area, just work on you and healing will come as you continue to learn. You're not as far off as you think, you are not broken. Life will be hard, but as you become brave, it will be so worth it. Don't pull back or turn inward. You have a voice that needs to be heard. And you will learn to use it, one step at a time."