The phrase, maternal wall, is commonly used to describe the career-related obstacles women face during and after pregnancy. From outright gender discrimination to societal pressure and subtle stereotyping…see if you recognize or can relate to any of these:
In the workplace, a woman with children is held to a higher standard than a woman without children or a man with children. For example, arriving late to a morning meeting, how would the reaction, assumption, or self-imposed guilt be different among these three?
Having kids is typically considered a positive trait in a male job candidate, but a minus for a female job candidate. Which traits would you attribute to men with children vs. women with children?
Motherhood triggers strong assumptions that a woman is no longer competent and committed to her job—even if her on-the-job performance remains unchanged.” ~Joan Williams
The maternal wall is real…a real problem that extends beyond the career and into the female body. As a former investment banker, nationally-ranked bikini competitor, and a fitness studio owner with a 17-mo old daughter, I see, feel, and recall how much of the maternal wall pertains to the female body, expectations toward that body, and the image we hold of ourselves.
But, whether this is about career or body…or both, the common thread here is disempowerment. With knowledge, we reverse that. Knowledge may not make the wall go away, but it does change our perception of it. With knowledge, we grow in awareness and we find solutions more easily…and comfortably. We do not have to collapse in defeat or damage ourselves against said wall. We locate a door to walk through with greater ease, dignity, and self-worth. We ultimately want to feel empowered by our choices…especially those that pertain to our bodies.
The maternal wall is an extreme example of a more general disempowerment issue in fitness. When behavior is driven by shame, fear, or flatout incorrect information, there is not much confidence and not much result. Even if you aren’t facing the maternal wall, there may be some myths below that pertain to (or are obstructing) your own internal or external transformation. Understand that pregnancy is merely bodybuilding at its most primal. We are all…always…building bodies. Most of the time, it’s just one, however!
Top 10 Myths about Prenatal & Postpartum Fitness
Myth #1: Stretch marks are inevitable.
Myth #2: How I deliver my baby or whether I use an epidural will have little bearing on my postpartum recovery.
Myth #3: Yoga will be the best and only form of exercise I can do while pregnant.
Myth #4: I may hurt the baby if I lift weights.
Myth #5: Baby fat is different than other types of body fat.
Myth #6: How I eat during pregnancy will not inhibit or influence how I can eat postpartum.
Myth #7: Losing the baby weight as fast as possible is ideal.
Myth #8: The best form of postpartum exercise is cardio…lots and lots of cardio.
Myth #9: A waist cincher or waist trainer will help me lose stubborn abdominal fat.
Myth #10: There is something in breast milk that is keeping me fat.
If you’d like my take on these myths, subscribe to my mailing list, swing by my studio for a class, or message me to schedule a personal consultation. And, if you’d like to read more about my postpartum journey to North Americans, you can find it here in the first chapter of my 100 Happy Days.
The before, during, and after.