Some post-birth thoughts about movement and pregnancy
Many people in the movement/dance world think that children will hold them back from moving/practicing/teaching, etc.
I would like to view this thought in a different light. Being pregnant and giving birth is probably the ultimate movement of a living being. While the body alters and grows to create new life and during birth actually creates movement in the way of contractions, our responsibility as women is to follow the movement that is happening.
The beautiful phenomena of the female body to be able to bring life into our world does not mean you cannot keep being who you are, doing what you were doing.
There are many aspects that change when you have a child. One aspect that I would like to present is about moving after pregnancy. This is a personal post. I share my experience.
Before the birth, our midwife told me that in our society the idea of childbed becomes more and more neglected. Our world is so much about achievement and doesn’t give the women time to recover from the big change their body went through, neither is there time for their mind to adapt to the new situation. In the old times, the first weeks after birth was a honey moon for mother and child. The other women in the village were taking care of them, cooking, cleaning, bathing them. According to my midwife, women should stay in bed for three weeks after giving birth. The saying is as follows: ‚One week in bed, one week next to the bed, one week around the bed.‘
I managed to do two weeks of this. Towards the end of week two I started to feel the need to move. My midwife allowed me to go for a walk. During this first walk I realized immediately that my body is still very weak from going through the birth and especially my pelvic floor needed a lot of recovery. From then on I started to go for little walks in the forest. Every day my body got stronger. During the third week I started some breathing exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor – very basic tensing and releasing while inhaling and exhaling.
In week four I did shoulder bridges, tensing and holding the pelvic diaphragm in lying, sitting and standing positions, lifting of the legs individually and simultaneously, again in different positions, and split squats. On top of this I moved around freely to get to know my body again.
In week six I had a check with my midwife where she told me my core muscles moved back to where they are supposed to be and that I could do everything I want again movement wise.
On that day I wrote myself a plan: https://www.facebook.com/annika.dorr.52/posts/1904382856241817
Once my shoulders and back felt strong enough I altered the plan:
Bend arm: Eccentric pull-ups alternated with Push ups
Straight arm: Arching active hang alternated with Protracted push ups, Leg raises
Legs: Split squats with weights alternated with Deadlifts
Especially Circles and Waves are very healing and releasing for my spine that was not moved for weeks.
I realized how many things can be done with a little child and how helpful a baby sling can be to still move around when having a child. Its a win win situation – the child is in close body contact, I can keep following my practice. During pregnancy the body becomes very soft in order to ensure the birth to happen. For this reason, I realized that strengthening the body is one of the most important things that need to be done. If carrying the child in a baby sling, you already have some weight to work with. Since the baby is growing and becoming more heavy, the weight you work with increases naturally. A nice side effect.
My plan is strongly based on exercises. Even though I prefer dancing to pure exercising, I realized that it was needed to focus very isolated on developing my strength and mobility in certain areas before integrating them.
For a detailed training plan, the weeks after birth: https://www.facebook.com/annika.dorr.52/posts/1904382856241817
Another advice I received from our midwife is to demand for help from friends and family. Many people want to bring presents after a child is born, most of the time these presents are clothes. What is much more helpful though is if visitors bring food, maybe clean a bit, do something effective. Its not very common to ask for help nowadays, if we do, then we often offer something in exchange. This is our capitalistic society.
Why not just ask friends to cook when they want to see the newborn? Every parent will know its the best help you can get.
Our son is often around during movement classes or rehearsals. Sometimes we hold him while moving, sometimes he watches.
He grows up around people that move. I believe it is nice that movement is a present subject for a little human and I also believe it is good for us older ones to share the space with the little ones. They can for sure teach us a lot.