Sore back? Sore everything? Since having Theo I feel that on the one hand my outlook on everything has changed (for the better I hope) but on the other hand my body has taken a battering! Sound familiar? Let’s try to help each other out a little…
Hopefully it goes without saying that I love my son. That is unconditional, even when he is throwing a temper tantrum for 5,000th time that day because he has to put his coat on. I love him with all of my body and all that I have. Just wanted to make that clear. However, I don’t shy away from telling people that I find parenthood challenging sometimes; the highest of highs but some very tough lows. The lack of sleep is something I will never get used to, and the physical battering of everyday motherhood is still something that I am trying to overcome. I am not a ‘Mama Blogger’, nor am I trying to be one; there are many out there who show so brilliantly and amusingly the bare and honest truth of parenthood. However I just wanted to share some of my thoughts about how motherhood has taken its toll on my body. Hopefully if anyone else feels the same then I can reassure you about how massage therapy can help, we can help each other through, and share some tips on how to look after ourselves.
I feel very fortunate to have had what I would consider a ‘pretty good pregnancy’. I won’t brag about feeling ‘glowing’; sweaty maybe but not glowing. I felt for my friends who were guzzling a bottle of Gaviscon before bed every night or had cankles like polar bears from water retention. I was definitely lucky in comparison, but by the end of my pregnancy my lower back was pretty painful. ‘Get sleep while you can’ they said. ‘Sleep for hours’ they said. Do any other pregnant women sleep well? Even if my back wasn’t sore, my bladder was squeezed to the size of a pea so sleep was a bit of a yoyo game for me. Not the end of the world though, I was pregnant and ecstatic; these things were surely to be expected. I had pregnancy massages when I could and enjoyed pregnancy reflexology to ease the pains and muddle through. It still blows my mind that I grew a real-life human inside my own body. It still feels like a sci-fi film to me. I was high on pregnancy hormones so thought it’s little wonder we’re left feeling a little ruined afterwards.
The Arrival of Theo
Theo took his time to grace us with his presence. He was very cosy and arrived 13 days after his due date. I was induced - ‘Oooh, you don’t want to be induced’ they said. Does anyone want to be induced? I’d waited long enough, I wanted this baby out. I was fortunate that ‘the baby grenade’ (as my husband called it) brought on my contractions thick and fast and 14 hours later Theo was here. I won’t go into detail about my labour but I wouldn’t consider it ‘a breeze’; however all I can say is that I think back on it positively (despite the obvious pain). I was grateful it was not the Hollywood scream-fest I had dreaded.
Then an abrupt change took place. For the two weeks after Theo was born I felt like I’d been hit by a bus; I was walking like a crab, I got tired and sore if I walked more than 100m and always felt like I wanted to just sit in a bath and close my eyes. Breastfeeding also left my girls feeling sore as hell at the start. What was going on to my body?! I felt like I was a service station for Theo; different areas providing him with lifelines. I was constantly giving him bits of myself, giving giving everything I could to keep him happy and thriving. Thankfully the hormones definitely saved me during that time; keeping me going through the night feeds and making me feel high on life and Theo generally.
Then the hormones dwindled, and with it my energy. Two weeks of sleepless nights were manageable for me, two months were not. I felt surrounded by others whose babies were apparently ‘sleeping through’. SLEEPING THROUGH?! I wondered what I was doing wrong; now I realise it is very common for babies to not sleep through; they’re babies and they need us and need feeding. It was hard to get any perspective on this at the time, but I hope I will remember not to beat myself up about this if there is another time, and to just get rest when I can.
It’s pretty boring for people without children to listen to parents moan about their lack of sleep. It’s not exactly a new subject, but I really underestimated how the lack of sleep would leave me feeling. My emotions were all over the place, and my body felt like it had aged 50 years in two months. I had so many headaches, could barely focus on a sentence that wasn’t about Theo and craved sugary foods. I don’t think you can anticipate this feeling; that after a couple of months of broken sleep and your whole life changing, you feel a little bit ruined physically. The relentlessness of looking after a newborn is exhausting enough, and the short stints of sleep just don’t cut it. I will always be all ears for anyone who is suffering from broken sleep. I promise to never offer (unwanted) advice and will always be here for a cuppa and a hug and will help you switch off as much as possible during your massage.
My first massage after giving birth
When Theo was 10 weeks old I had my first massage. It was not the idyllic treatment I’d envisaged; I tried to time his naps so that he’d be asleep during my massage. Of course this backfired and he was wide awake and in need of cuddles. We grabbed five minutes here and there where we could though, and Theo lay underneath the massage table on his play mat while I tried to make funny faces through the hole to keep him entertained. We managed to get enough time for my lovely Therapist to release some tension and help me tap into the knotty areas on my body. Why is it that often we don’t know how tense we are until we lie on that massage table and think ‘oh dear’…?
I was shocked to have found myself a victim to all the advice I’d given my pregnant clients before having Theo; I realised I couldn’t always get into the premium position to feed him and that sometimes I just really needed him to latch on properly and have a good feed; I didn’t care if I was bending my back in a weird position to enable this to happen. I would often fall asleep sitting up, again just happy that he was asleep and rather that than risk waking him when I was just so desperate for some time to shut my eyes. I would bop around the kitchen for hours to try to keep him chilled or help him go to sleep, putting so much pressure on my knees and lower back. At the time I just blissfully ignored it all though. Priority: as much sleep as possible!
My clients always ask me when they should have a massage after giving birth. I always say this is such a personal question with no ‘one size fits all’ answer. I usually recommend at least six weeks, but it really does depend on the birth experience you’ve had. I always work with each of my clients to decide the best time for them. We always take more time for these post-natal appointments as it’s rare to get an hour or so when your newborn will not need you at some point. I’d hate for this to cause any stress; I am very laid back about these appointments and want them to be all about what is best for you and your baby. For appointments at my house; I have a bouncy chair, a play mat and lots of toys and cuddles to help here. We’re in this together.
From Newborn to Little Person
As Theo has grown older and less dependent on me, I feel that parts of my body have become my own again. I’ve found this emotional at times but bloody brilliant at other times. It’s nice that, after nearly two years, my body is now (mostly) just for me. However, I am a pretty petite person who has given birth to a whopper on the 96th centile for his age. I am super proud of this and love his healthy appetite which is one less worry.
Until Theo can walk and doesn’t need holding quite so much though, my left side is permanently tense from holding him. My neck clicks in ways it never used to. My lower back tenses up if I sleep in certain positions. My lumbar spine needs constant stretching. My knees almost burst into tears every time I bend down with him in my arms. A monthly massage (at least) is an absolute necessity for me.
Time for myself leaves me feeling guilty
As a new mum I find it pretty hard to find time for myself (said every mum ever), and booking in a massage leaves me feeling guilty that I’m not only leaving the house but also taking time to indulge myself. Why do we do this to ourselves? We work hard all the time! Even when we’re not at work we’re looking after tiny people; the responsibility is constant and exhausting. I know I am not alone with this - I won’t be the first and I won’t be the last; our biggest battle with this is ourselves. But I just want to say it’s ok to take an hour, one little hour, for yourself. There are 168 hours in a week and over 700 in a month. Finding one hour every month for yourself is definitely ok in my book. For me, even looking forward to a massage if I’m feeling a little battered from motherhood keeps me going for a week or two in anticipation, and the lovely feeling afterwards can stay with me for days and weeks.
My promise to you as a Mum…
You don’t have to be a New Mum to enjoy these promises. This sisterhood in Motherland lasts forever…
A relaxing and effective massage, focusing on your tension areas with the appropriate level of pressure as you wish (Deep Tissue or Swedish Massage)
A relaxing therapy room with lovely scents, relaxing music and some thoughtful pamper touches to leave you feeling well looked-after
A peaceful treatment with zero chat from me (unless you really want to talk obviously!)
A pamper pack to enjoy post-treatment to ensure your relaxation lasts as long as possible
Some stretch demonstrations that you can take away and do for yourself when you are feeling the strain
A pair of understanding and non-preachy ears for a quick chat about motherhood (or anything!) pre and post-massage.
I just wanted to share some thoughts that I’ve had since becoming a mama. If you can relate to any of these thoughts then hopefully it will make you feel like we’re in this together.
I hope to meet some of you soon if you’d like to book in for a treatment with Massage and Me. See the ‘BOOK NOW’ button below to find your slot. If you can’t find a time to suit you then please just give me a call and we can discuss some alternatives. I try to be flexible with my timings where I can so always call/email/text and we can discuss. I hope to have the chance to meet you soon!
Jo (M&M) x