Postpartum, Grace and Movement

Posted on July 22 2020

Postpartum, Grace and Movement
BY ROXY MENZIES FOR DAUB + DESIGN

 

Guest writer Roxy Menzies is an advocate for optimal Women’s health throughout every phase in life using the tools of Yamuna® Body Rolling, Dance, Gyrotonic®, and Pilates. Her curiosity for life and movement led her to live, perform, and teach around the globe. She’s returned to Toronto full-time as a new mom with her daughter Jazz and shares her postpartum journey thus far in the following blog.



Even though women have been giving birth since the beginning of time, it’s still a wondrous and amazing feat. There is so much fear about pregnancy and birth, especially because we are bombarded with images of screaming women, but I think women forget how resilient and powerful we are. I’ve been lucky because I’ve been surrounded by women that shared positive and empowering birth stories, not easy per se (well for some it was) and maybe intense, but always as an experience filled with fortitude and as a right of passage. I’ve also met plenty of women that feel a deeper and more sensual connection to their body after having children.

 

Pregnant woman walking in front of brightly coloured wall.

Image: Roxy Menzies


I know that every pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience is different, and not every woman enjoys the journey, but I LOVED being pregnant. Once I (mostly) got over my fears - and they were huge fears due to a previous loss - I rocked my pregnancy! I advocated for my own health, ignored the naysayers, and had a positive and empowering birth experience. I really worked diligently at blocking out any negativity in regards to birth and had almost no aches and pains due to my regular practice of Yamuna® Body Rolling. Postpartum, on the other hand, has been a bit of a rockier journey with breastfeeding challenges, feeling inept, weight gain, trying to balance work and motherhood and raging hormones -- plus COVID-19 certainly didn’t help.

 

Pregnant woman eating a cupcake at a baby shower.

Image: Roxy Menzies



What has helped, besides my beautiful baby girl and support of family and friends, has been conscious movement and body-work. I don’t mean jogging or crazy HIIT workouts (I’ve worked with too many women that rushed into those workouts and suffered from pain and pelvic floor issues for years) but rather appropriate movements that released, strengthened and stabilized a body that felt different. Wearing comfortable, high quality, and non-compressive activewear (unique, beautiful, and made with love, too) is a great motivator as well!

For me, the strangest sensation of my postpartum body is feeling tight and loose at the same time in the same muscles, joint or area, and very collapsed in my torso. I always prided myself on the length and poise of my upper body which now seems shortened and just tired.

It’s bad enough that we’re bombarded with mostly unrealistic images of one ideal of beauty in everyday life, but now the postpartum woman is bombarded with the concept of being a "super-mom." Hollywood and social media celebs smile happily in a bikini, with flawless hair, no bags under their eyes, and a well-behaved babe in their arms and they are praised for ‘bouncing back’. How can the average human/mom live up to that? I actually have had quite a bit of support and an easy-going baby and I still feel overwhelmed and certainly haven’t ‘bounced back’! At least not to the point of looking groomed and sporting a bikini.

The reality for most new moms, besides figuring out what we’re doing (no book ever really prepares you), is they are sleep-deprived, hormonal, hungry, navigating what’s happening and happened down there and can’t fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes, and if they do, it’s not quite the same because some areas are wider or softer than before. And with a baby, unless you have someone to watch your child, it’s rare to get a full hour’s workout or even 30 minutes uninterrupted (but who wouldn’t want cuddle breaks, right?).

And here’s the thing: IT’S REALLY OK. It took almost 10 months for our bodies to do this divine act of growing a beautiful human, getting it out of our body, and then starting the healing process as we navigate our lives with a new family member so... how can we be expected to have it all figured out so quickly?

 

Woman playing with baby.

Image: Roxy Menzies

 

A colleague of mine, who is also a Pilates teacher, had a traumatic birth experience; a c-section and fairly severe diastasis recti (it’s the separation of the abs, most women get it due to the stretching of the abs as the baby grows, some don’t know they have it and do crunches and planks making it worse and for months, years and even decades later can look as though they’re still pregnant -- but there is plenty that can be done to prevent or fix it). She took 1.5 years postpartum of working diligently and safely before attempting any intermediate or advanced exercises. At 2 years postpartum, she’s a beast! The grace and strength she has are inspiring, and she looks like she’s rehearsing for Cirque du Soleil. My point is, she didn’t do it in 2, 3, 6, or even 12 months.

Movement that releases, strengthens, stabilizes, and aligns during postpartum is so important. Too often postnatal women have hip, back, pelvic and neck pain. We need strength, from the inside out cause that growing baby, car seats, and strollers can get heavy! And as our little ones get older (and heavier) we want to keep up with them and run, play, and roll in the snow.

 

Woman playing with child on yoga mat in leggings.

Image: Roxy Menzies


It took a while, but I have been finding bits of time in my day to move my body. Many of them incorporate my daughter; such as a Stroller workout or getting down on my mat to body roll while she’s doing tummy time. It makes a difference; in a short time-frame, it has become easier to carry her and walk up the stairs and I have less stiffness while it’s also easier to sit up straight and my body feels supported.

I do feel the pressure and the scrutiny to lose the extra 20+ pounds ASAP and be strong like Wonder Woman, especially as an instructor in the Health and Wellness industry. At the same time, I sometimes feel like a hypocrite because I posed nude at 8 months pregnant for a Body Positivity story for a Toronto magazine, and yet have moments of feeling ashamed of my body.

So would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat!

It may sound cliche but with all of the adventures I’ve had in my life, my daughter really is the best thing that’s happened to me. The postpartum journey is just that -- a journey and one in which I’m learning, getting creative, and connecting deeper to my body.

 

Woman and child hugging.

Image: Roxy Menzies



For me, it’s a daily feat and sometimes a battle to show myself grace, love, and acceptance. I remind myself of the miracle my body performed and how I’m slowly and safely building up strength and realigning my body to adequately carry this growing baby and all the accessories she comes with (car seats, strollers). My hope for her is that she is confident, loving, and accepting of her own body throughout all stages of her life and my role in that is striving to be a good and honest example.

You can find Roxy on Instagram @roxyspiral and check out her website www.roxymenzies.com for updates and the launch of her blog ‘The Pregnancy and beyond Chronicles’; a positive, helpful and humorous blog for women seeking a positive and uplifting pregnancy and birth. Stay tuned for more Daub & Design and Roxy as she shares movements you can do at home!

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