Thursday, May 15, 2008

Postpartum Body Image Ideas Part 4

Move your body to gain respect for the marvelous capacity it holds.
Continuing the series on postpartum body image...

Moving your body can be deeply healing. When you move your body, you experience it in different ways and on different levels. It can be freeing, relaxing, and cathartic. OHSU describes the benefits of dance therapy:

"helps improve body image and self-esteem, decrease fears, express anger,
decrease body tensions, reduce chronic pain, and more."

A local dance/movement therapist, Chelsea Harper, integrates movement with counseling in her business Moving to Balance. She notes, postpartum mothers can be overwhelmed by so many changes happening so fast and suddenly finding that their old ways of thinking and processing are not accessible anymore. Sometimes it is the waves of hormones, the lack of sleep, the intense focus on another being, or any number of other changes, but familiar patterns of coping with change may not fit into this new system. Turning to the body to “think for you” can be one way to honor and integrate a new postpartum body image, whether it is through more active movement or relaxing practices such as meditation. Trusting the wisdom that this new body holds can help postpartum mothers to find comfort and strength when it’s most needed.

Kristy Rose Leech at Rosehips Doula Services is starting a movement group called Mothers In Motion. She writes that dance and movement can be healing for postpartum in the following ways:

  • to safely and comfortably reunite with our bodies

  • to identify and release tension

  • to develop movement patterns of greater efficiency and expression

  • to listen and reflect our body-mind wisdom

  • to socialize with other mothers

  • to cultivate acceptance

  • to experience freedom of movement

  • to expand our movement vocabulary
There are many dance and movement classes in Portland, and many options with a postpartum-specific focus. Kristy recommends clarifying what you want or need: a bonding experience with your child (which has added benefits) or time alone, a "work out" or restoration, to meet other mothers, a class with music or a quieter atmosphere, and so on.

Several places offer dance/movement therapy or classes with a postpartum focus:

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