Written by: Ashley Gammon
If I could write a letter to my pre-mother self as somewhat of a seasoned mama ten years later these are the things I would tell myself and I would want all women to hear and know.
Becoming a mother is going to one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life. From the moment you bring your bundle of joy earthside the stressors of motherhood will never end. You will enter this postpartum phase everyone speaks of and you will stay there forever! Postpartum is forever and being a mother is something no one can ever take away from you! You will do many things you said you would never do simply because you’re in survival mode and that’s OK! You will always be doing a lot better than you think you are and remember to be kind to yourself. This one simple moment is going to turn your world upside down in so many ways, ways you never even thought possible. The good, the bad, the ugly and so much more!
The big day may not go as planned, but no matter what that baby will come earthside. The best thing you can do is prepare yourself with as many resources as possible. Reading “What to Expect When Expecting” is just skimming the surface and I want you to dig a lot deeper. I want you to hire an amazing doula who gets you as a whole person and will support you during this journey. I want you to take a hypnobirthing class and work on relaxation techniques as much as you can. I want you to take classes with fitness professionals that specialize in pelvic floor and core health, maybe a prenatal yoga class. I want you to find a breastfeeding support group and a lactation consultant to have on hand just in case you need them. Last and this by far may be the most important is to book a session with a women’s health PT. Learn your core and pelvic floor inside and out and fill your tool belt with techniques for that big day. Remind yourself everyday that YOU CAN do this and build your dream birth team and ensure you are all on the same page every step of the way. Your mind is powerful and your body is amazing, you we created to do this! YOU CAN do this and you will do it one way or another!
When baby arrives your sole purpose is to mother that baby! Get to know your baby and do the things you feel right in your heart and not what the voices around you are saying. Because there will be a lot of them! A mother’s intuition is no joke, follow that feeling and it will never fail you. Lay in bed, rest, relax and let others help you. If they don’t offer don’t be afraid to ask. Give your husband very specific directions because he will never understand the feelings you are feeling becoming an entire new person in an instant! You’re a mom! You just grew a human and delivered it, that’s a lot to take in. It’s OK to give yourself some time to adjust to the mom you have just become! Your body, your heart and everything you have ever known yourself to be has just shifted! Give yourself a lot of grace during this very delicate time and remind yourself every single day that you are freaking amazing!
Things that I want you to let go of and I know as a perfectionist this is not going to be an easy one. The house! Let.It.Go. Your baby is never going to remember what the house looked like those first few months or even years of life. This is where asking for help and giving your husband very specific direction come into play. Or better yet, hire a postpartum doula, because that saying “it takes a village” is also a very real thing! The other thing I want you to do is be kind to your body! Nourish it with healthy food and never try to “get it back” because you never lost it! The number on the scale, the way it looks, what pants you can and cannot wear… let it all go! The only thing I want you to worry about when it comes to your body is moving it, nourishing it and doing your pelvic floor and core exercises. There is no boot camp, there is no 90 day challenge, there is so such thing as getting something back that was never gone! Embrace your beautiful body and most importantly love it!
Make time for you and your marriage! Yes you’re a mom now, but never forget you are still a unique individual and a wife too! It’s easy to forget about the things that were so important before baby came. Make time for you and to do things that fill your cup. We all know you can’t pour from an empty one so fill yours first mama and say no thank you to that mom guilt! It’s important to take time for you and you only! I promise you will never regret giving yourself that self love and self care, but you will regret not doing it!
And most importantly it’s ok if the journey and the feelings you are feeling are not the ones you expected. It’s ok to feel sad, lost, angry, overwhelmed, and anything else you might feel. What’s not OK is to go through it alone. Ask for help and find support and throw all of the judgement out of the window! You have been through so much in a very short amount of time and it’s ok for it to take a little time to get comfortable with the new you! I promise! Your life may not seem instagram worthy at this very moment, but it’s yours! Own it and your unique self because no one else can ever take your place! Embrace every single second of this journey – the good and the bad!
I delivered my first baby at the age of 26 in a foreign country and I look back and realize how unprepared my husband and I were. I I ended up with an emergency cesarean and I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I showed up to the hospital terrified! I was absolutely terrified and wondered how in the world this baby was going to come out of the vagina. Fear is a real thing and if you allow it to, it can and will control you! Within the next four years I delivered two more babies via cesarean. Believe it or not almost a decade and three babies later I am still terrified of birth. I have so much fear associated with one of the most amazing days of my life – becoming a mom! I suffered with postpartum depression every single time and was always afraid to ask for help or go get any. I also suffered with pelvic floor dysfunction for six long years and it was a very long and frustrating journey to say the least. To live in my own body and not have it work was a very disempowering event to say the least. I wish someone would have told me all of the things I now tell the women I work with today. I wish someone would have handed me this letter or a book so that I could feel empowered going into that big day. Knowledge is power and being informed and educated about the journey can be life changing! I know it’s all very overwhelming, but if anything after reading this I hope I have planted a few seeds or at least given you somewhere to go for answers when you are searching for them! I have found that sharing my story is when change happens.
My mission in my work is to empower women with tools, education and resources on their own bodies. Being a woman and becoming a mother is no easy task! It’s never too early or too late to start healing a body or heart that may feel broken! There are so many resources out there that I wish I had access to during my journey. This is one of the many reasons I’m huge on sharing and speaking up about women’s health issues before, during and after babies. Surround yourself with women who lift you up and will support you along the way!
CPT, MUTU Pro, Military Spouse, Mom to 3, and M.O.M.S. Community Manager
Ashley has made it her mission to bring awareness of pelvic floor and core health to military spouses and female service members across the globe. Women are suffering in silence and Ashley knows all too well the everyday struggles of the military life. This is why her passion to empower military mamas through education, resources and tools is so strong. Her personal journey with MUTU and healing her postpartum body inspired her to bring awareness to military communities. Ashley and her husband have three girls all named after presidents, Mckinley, Madison and Monroe. Ashley’s husband has been serving in the Army for 19 years and they have been married for 14. They have spent a great deal of time being stationed at Ft. Bragg and Germany. They are currently stationed in Detroit, MI where they have been able to experience a taste of what civilian life might be like. Ashley and her family very much enjoy the journey the Military life has given them. They don’t know exactly what’s next because let’s be real, Military families don’t make plans! When Ashley isn’t busy spreading her M.O.M.S. mission you can find her sipping hot coffee from one her polish pottery mugs or chasing her 8 chickens and rooster Hank to get them in the coop.