By Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Hi Mom. I know you read all of my blogs, so here’s one for you.
I write this, not as a parent, but as a grown child. My mom sacrificed a lot of her life for us. She always cared for us and put the family first. As parents go, I pretty much hit the jackpot. They were always there for me. I was loved and supported—not in illusions of perfection or ‘you’re the centre of the universe’ way, but I had all I needed, my dreams were encouraged and my accomplishments celebrated.
As I have embarked on my own healing journey as an adult, I have come upon some things I did not expect. Some anger, some shame, but one thing that I thought I had I did not come across: self-love. Oddly, that was surprising. And I have learned that no amount of love that you receive from others can teach you that.
My message to new moms is that you have to support yourself if you want to support your baby. I have been told that new moms don’t want to hear that. Unfortunately, I am more in the habit of telling the truth than what people want to hear. I get that from you, Mom—haha.
I would love to be able to tell new moms the one magic exercise that will stop you from peeing your pants when you sneeze or exercise, but the truth is that mechanism is not the same in everyone so there is no ‘one size fits all’ cure—you need a pelvic floor physiotherapy assessment to know how to proceed. I would love to be able to tell you the magic way to wear your baby carrier so your back doesn’t hurt, but the truth is if your pelvic floor and/or your abdominals are not healing properly, your back is likely going to be angry and you need an assessment and likely some treatment to help you out.
But, there is some good news…
Because the truth is also that just because you are now a mom, does not mean that you have to have all the answers or be able to do everything yourself; it’s okay to ask for help. The truth is that even though your every instinct may be to throw all that you are into caring for your child, you are still an important person in this world in your own right. The truth is that even though your body may not feel ‘normal’ and may not even feel like your own right now, with help you can heal. After all, you have already grown a full human and squeezed it out of an orifice that looks like it has no business doing it. I know that sort of thing happens every day but, when you think about it, that’s a pretty bad-ass thing to do, so you can’t possibly have less potential than you had before.
As I have embarked in my pelvic floor physiotherapy practice, I have come across a lot of moms, many of whom are stressed and tired and find it difficult to find the time for self-care. I understand that you have an important job and great responsibility to nurture and care for a vulnerable new child—sometimes more than one. But, it is not selfish to care for yourself. You are not neglecting your child to do so—in fact, it is also true that the greatest gift you can give another is the best version of yourself. Give your child an example to follow in loving themselves. Light their path.
I now have the joy (and sadness) of watching my mom go bravely forward after the loss of my dad. Through our grief I have been able to watch her further find herself, set her boundaries, and spread her wings. Her courage and her example are an inspiration to me. Thanks for everything, Mom. I love you and I am proud of you.
By: Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Shannon is a Physical Therapist with an interest in helping her patients achieve holistic healing from whatever ails them and achieve optimum functioning in pursuing their passions.
Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.
Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.