exercise, health, mom blog, moms, motherhood, pregnancy

Why It’s Hard to Be a Strong Momma (and How to Take Back Your Body)

So you had a baby. GREAT. Good for you. You grew an entire person in your body. Whoop-dee-freaking-doo.


>>Raise your hand if that’s what it felt like for you after you gave birth.<<

Admittedly I cannot see you, but I feel like there’s a good chance your hand would shoot right up. And possibly, pain would shoot right down your neck, shoulder, or back thanks to that sudden arm movement above your head. But did you connect that shoulder pain or neck pain to pregnancy or childbirth? Or did you think you were the only momma in pain?

I can assure you: you are not alone. All bodies change as we age, but women’s bodies really change when they are pregnant. Subtle injuries and misalignments can occur during childbirth. The focus of most births is the baby, not the momma; if mom is not in distress and the baby is OK, it’s business as usual.

Business as usual unfortunately can mean taking care of the baby and ignoring your own needs. Your own needs are confusing anyway since your body was an incubator for 9 (really 10) months and now it’s not and you aren’t sure where you end and the baby begins. And your hormones are making you feel everything and nothing. And you have no idea what you are doing.

But you do it anyway. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

And a couple years later when your neck or your shoulder is giving you so much pain you are downing ibuprofen regularly, you figure that’s just normal. Or you start an exercise program but are frustrated when your midsection isn’t feeling as strong as it should after all the work you’ve put in, or when a weird thing in your back makes you skip workouts. So you give up and blame yourself and just decide to live with the pain and frustration because you don’t know what else to do.

Well that’s not OK. You shouldn’t have to settle. It’s outrageous to me that we as women don’t know more about our own bodies or have the resources to help us heal. That as soon our babies are born, our bodies don’t seem to matter.

I want you to take back your body. And I know who can help you do that.

But first, let me share a bit of my situation. My body was a wreck before I even had babies. Prior to my first pregnancy, I’d had four abdominal surgeries. Then during my first pregnancy, I had one more. Healing from surgery while growing a baby is not ideal, to say the least. After giving birth to my first child, I tried to get back to regular exercise. I knew that I needed to be stronger to handle my day-to-day mom life and that I needed to be in good health if I wanted to have another baby.

Turns out, it wasn’t so easy. I didn’t understand what was going on with my body. I thought I had neck problems and a weak core. I was only partially right.

After my second child was born, my pain increased. My mid-back seared with pain regularly. My right shoulder became so painful I had a hard time using my arm. I tried chiropractic adjustments. I tried Airrosti. I tried massage. All of these things helped, but the results were temporary. Working out more didn’t help; I consistently injured myself during group exercise classes OR didn’t get the support I needed from the instructor when I would try to modify the moves.

I was trying so hard to understand my body. I was trying to fix it. I needed help, but no one had the right help for me.

Until I found Courtney Wyckoff and MommaStrong.

I discovered MommaStrong about a year ago, thanks to a segment on our local ABC newscast. Courtney was working with a reporter who had just had a baby and all of the things she was telling her were all the things I’d been looking for. I immediately went to MommaStrong.com to see what it was all about. And not even five minutes later I became a member.

I’d been searching for a way to engage my destroyed core FOR YEARS. In my search, I’d picked up a lot of language related to my core, the names of the muscles, the areas where I probably needed to focus but didn’t know how. Courtney’s online workout videos were reinforcing all of my beliefs. She was what I was looking for. And a monthly membership to MommaStrong was only $2/month. How could I not join?

As soon as I started her Core Camp, I felt stronger and less prone to injury. It wasn’t just about my core; it was about the support I needed to do the work. My neck problem was actually a symptom of my weak glutes and stiff right hip joint. Her bracing technique was the missing piece to the puzzle of my weird body.

Courtney’s experience as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and a mom gives her a unique understanding of our bodies and our pain. AND SHE CAN HELP YOU.

This weekend I had the opportunity to talk to Courtney in person — she lives in Houston, too. I attended a MommaStrong clinic in town where she taught me and the other mommas about how our bodies should work. She told us some of fallacies we have been taught over the years and why we need to unlearn them.

When our bodies are wonky, we end up overcompensating somehow. Other muscles in our bodies take over for the muscles that aren’t doing their jobs. And that just messes everything up. We end up hurting and we don’t know how to fix it.

For example, have you been told to stand up straight and put your shoulders back?

Structurally that doesn’t make sense because we are taking our natural curves and arches out of our spine.

The arches and curves of our spine make us stronger and, if our spines are healthy, those curves help us balance our big ol’ heads with no pain.

We have to untangle the mess that’s been accumulating in our muscles and fascia so we can use our bodies the way they were designed to work.

(This pic makes sense if you think of the rubber bands as muscles. Also it makes sense if you were there.)

What I learned from talking to Courtney one on one is that MommaStrong grew out of her own pain. She needed a solution for her momma-related-issues, so she created one. Her MommaStrong videos address nearly every need a momma’s body could have, regardless of how long ago you had your last baby. I mean, I’m seven years postpartum and I still need help!

The videos are short and you can do them at home, even with your kids around. And, if you live in Seattle, Washington DC, Boston, NYC, or San Francisco you can see Courtney in person this summer and attend a clinic just like the one I attended here in Houston.

Strong isn’t the new pretty; we are supposed to be strong. Our bodies were meant to move and carry us through our lives. With the proper support we can be mommas who model strength and confidence to our children. Strength and confidence should be the rule, not the exception. Some of us mommas just need a little help getting to that place.

What is stopping you from becoming the strong momma you want to be? 

Momma Strong
Courtney and her kiddos

Do you know a momma who has been struggling? Share this post with her.

>>>I need you to know: THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST. MommaStrong reached out to me as a blogger but I was already signed up and planning to attend the event. They graciously arranged time for me to speak with Courtney after the clinic, but I attended on my own dime and would have been there regardless. MommaStrong ROCKS.<<<