MOUNTAIN LIFE - Coast Mountains | Winter / Spring 2021

61 words :: Danielle Baker Social and mainstream media is awash with stories, slideshows and film clips celebrating “mountain mommas who rip” within weeks, sometimes days, of giving birth. But many new mothers have discovered those back- in-the-saddle success stories are not always the norm. Set up by the expectation of quick and uncomplicated recoveries and hampered by a lack of information available, women looking forward to returning to the sports they love are instead often finding further injury, frustration and depression. Rosara Joseph, a New Zealand-born mountain biker and former Olympian, found herself struggling to return to her regular activities after giving birth. “Four months postpartum and things were getting worse,” Rosara says. “ I was not able to do what I needed—mountain biking, running, and even just going for walks—to make myself feel grounded. I was in a really desperate state, mentally and emotionally.” Diagnosed with a bladder prolapse, Rosara was given no medical guidance. Although she had done plenty of research during her pregnancy and approached her first few months post-birth conservatively, she was surprised to find out later that basic daily activities like lifting the car seat and baby together, using a front pack for carrying, or being on her feet a lot, should be avoided. When she finally sought professional help, she was told she would be managing her symptoms and restricting her activity for the rest of her life. “That was my lowest point,” she recalls. Eventually, she connected with Rachel Richards, a physiotherapist with advanced training in pelvic floor rehabilitation and personal experience in motherhood and athletics. “I worked very hard and it took so much energy because any little time that I had to myself was dedicated to doing these boring exercises Rachel had prescribed,” says Rosara. “At around 12 to 15 months postpartum I started feeling strong in myself again and, although I continue to experience urinary incontinence with running and certain movements, the other prolapse symptoms eased.” Rachel’s approach is effective because she doesn’t minimize the importance of women returning to the movement that is so needed for their mental and physical wellbeing. “It’s not that they can’t heal,” she says. “It’s just that often the approach needs to be a little more conservative and thoughtful.” Many new-mother patients come to her feeling the pressure to quickly return to their previous levels of fitness and activity. “A body takes nine months of changing to get to that one moment of childbirth,” Rachel says, “it’s going to take a little longer to get back to where it was before. As well, there may be additional injuries combined with the extra tasks and things they now have to do as mothers.” For Kootenay-based yoga teacher, Tanya Skok Hobbs, when a decade- old back injury—calcified compressed L5 vertebra—suddenly flared up postpartum, she discovered just how much the physical actions of motherhood can contribute to core weakness and back pain. “Things like breastfeeding or picking up and holding a baby lengthen and weaken the Sea to Sky Corridor moms are sharing the unique, and sometimes unexpected, realities around getting back on their bikes and boards after childbirth POSTPARTUM EXPECTATIONS WELLNESS For many new moms in outdoor culture, getting back into the mountains, with the babies and solo, is a top priority. ERIN HOGUE