So mamas, we should be able to do it all, right?
We should be able to heal post baby without help physically and mentally. We are expected to. We are told we will be back to normal in 6 weeks. A small subset of women feel this way and then there are the rest, who feel like a failure on the inside but hold it together on the outside, waiting to feel like themselves. Some return to feeling good and compensate well and others struggle with feeling like they live in a body that is not theirs. Some may have occasional back pain or infrequent leaking- nothing that will slow them down. There are others who enter motherhood feeling like their body has betrayed them. Either way, our issues are marginalized and often women feel the need to push through no matter what. All well and good until, pain and dysfunction sets in again or ramps up. This is no time to admit you are unravelling. Now self blame enters and we blame ourselves for not getting help sooner. So, we take ibuprofen, wear pads since we leak playing with our kids and eventually politely decline social activities that will aggravate our symptoms.
Adding to this conundrum is our traditional medical model of treating disease not treating for prevention. Most of my clients come feeling unheard by medical professionals and feeling lost because their problem isn’t “big enough” to insight medical action. Many just wait and sit tight because there are few places to turn. Our intuitive body awareness is negated because we do not fit full diagnostic criteria of a particular dysfunction. We wait until the pain is bad enough, wait until a loss of function and joy is big enough that we begin to look for change.
So here’s how the American Model has failed us. We are taught that being Type A is the only successful characteristic to tout. Throwing yourself under the bus for everyone else is mandatory to prove your worthiness. Asking for help is admitting failure. It is ok to live with dysfunction if it isn’t terrible and if there is no obvious diagnosis you must be a hypochondriac. Prevention is for the few not for us all.
Think I am exaggerating?
How many of you have said, well, pain with sex isn’t that bad… I will just try to avoid it when I can.
A 2012 study (and you can find more like this) showed that women utilize preventative care more than men. This should mean a lower incidence of healthcare needs but that is not what the data shows. Instead, women are seeking out medical care more than men. The study wrote, “Perhaps, worse self perception of health and health related quality of life, self preference, worse state of health and the different overall approach to illness might have led women to a different process for seeking healthcare…” Maybe we are not getting the care that we need. Maybe we are not allowed to voice our intuitive sense of what our body needs. Maybe we aren't given full permission to ask for help without criticism.
Maybe we all need “to take a different overall approach to illness!”
I hope that someday, I have few women to treat who have spent years “dealing” with dysfunction or trying to unravel their symptoms on Google. I hope that all women feel safe and supported getting support early so that they don’t need to walk the path so many of us have.
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Is a mom of two, life long exercise & nutrition enthusiast, women's health specialist & physical therapist.