How occupational therapy can help with pain-free parenting:
A chat with Lisa Westhorpe
In this episode I am chatting with Lisa Westhorpe, owner of Nurture Occupational Therapy. We talk about what occupational therapy is, and how it can help a wide variety of challenges. She shares how she helps moms to “parent pain-free” – managing and overcoming the aches and pains that new moms experience when moving their bodies in ways they haven’t before, and how she provides support for new moms as they adjust to the new physical demands that come along with first-time motherhood. We also talk about how our bodies change in ways we might be fully aware of. So often moms try to jump back into exercise at the six week mark post-childbirth, but Lisa talks about how it’s important to consider how your body has shifted and what might have been easy pre-pregnancy is not always the best thing for you. Just think about jumping rope pre and post-childbirth as an example!
Lisa shares the idea of “matrescence,” the transition from pre-parent to parenthood. We talk a lot in society about adolescence – a time of huge change, growth, fluctuating hormones, etc – for kids as they grow up. Matrescence is the same thing, but it’s rarely acknowledged or understood. It’s like we’re expected to just jump into motherhood and just “get used to it,” but when you liken it to the drastic shifts of adolescence it really paints the picture of the challenges we face in that first year of motherhood. So much focus is put into the birth plan, but rarely do we look forward to a postpartum plan for what support we might need in place in those sleep-deprived months. This is one of the things that Lisa works on with her clients, ensuring that new moms have the support they need in those first few months of adjustment and recovery.
I always say that while it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to raise a mom. This was a fascinating chat about motherhood and how we often negate or downplay the major changes that occur when we become moms – physical, emotional and mental. It needs to be acknowledged just how massive this transition is, and just how much we all need our village.
I became interested in women’s health after my own experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood. Although I had always wanted to be a mum, the reality of the postpartum period was a complete shock to me – how much everything changes: your body, your roles and routines, your free time, your relationships. I felt like no-one had told me about this, and because our culture tends to be more focused on birth than what comes after it, I hadn’t known to research this. I knew that other women must be feeling the same way, and I knew that I could put my skills as an occupational therapist to use to support them.
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