It seems there's a growing trend in our culture to not let pregnancy change you. In many ways I think this trend is a reaction to the "old school" way of thinking that you had to "eat for two" and "rest" during pregnancy. Or maybe this generation of mothers is reacting to the experience of their own mothers and wanting something different for themselves. Whatever the thrust behind it, there is a very real and present pressure to return quickly to the body you had before having a baby.
I'll be first in line to admit I've created this pressure for myself, not so much with my first pregnancy which was a time of healing in and of itself (you can read more about that HERE) but most definitely with my second pregnancy this past year. I was just coming off a fantastic year of running and racing when I found out I was pregnant with Jack. I had PR'd in every distance and was a little disappointed to know that I'd have to work so hard after giving birth to get back to that place. I didn't want pregnancy to change the runner I was becoming. I ran and raced throughout my pregnancy and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love to run, pregnant or not.
But my plans to return to running after baby were too aggressive. I laugh now when I look at those posts I wrote back in July, they were uninformed and unrealistic. I thought (wrongly) that if I ran up to my delivery (which I did) that I'd be able to pick up right where I left off after giving birth. I didn't pick up where I left off, in fact I did a bit of damage. I think many women (especially bloggers) are in the same place as I was: heaping pressure on themselves to be who they were before giving birth.
Just this fall the story of Anna Bretan was all over running websites and blogs everywhere. She was the woman who ran (and won) the Oakland marathon 6 weeks after giving birth. Most of the feedback I saw regarding her race was praise: So amazing. I wish I could do that! I didn't see much educated critique of what she did. In an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle Bretan said, "It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would." I'm not sure if she was talking about her quads or her pelvic floor, regardless your body still takes a beating when you run a marathon. As my physical therapist mentioned in our interview, there are no studies out there on the long term affects of running so soon after having a baby. It seems that the generation of women who are giving birth now are really the first to push the boundaries and preconceptions of what can be done during and after pregnancy. But at what cost to our own bodies? Twenty, thirty years down the road will there be an epidemic of women with prolapse issues?
In our drive-thru, hurry-up, instant, fast paced culture pregnancy and birth are being treated as a speed bump. Instead of embracing the change of motherhood and allowing ourselves to heal completely, we rush through in a hurry to get on with the next thing. I now this is true of myself, all you have to do is read my old posts and you can see for yourself this distorted perception.I wanted to be THAT girl who wouldn't let anything stop her or slow her down, but the truth is I NEED to slow down. We all need to slow down. Life needs to flow at a natural pace, free of pressure; a pace that allows for healing.
If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant do/did you feel pressure, either external or internal to get back to who you were before pregnancy?
How has becoming a mother changed you? In what ways have you not wanted to change?
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