Updated: May 19
During this Confidence Conversation in honor of mothers around the world, we’re getting real about the transition into motherhood: from the changes that happen in your body that no one wants to talk about, the joys and the challenges of the journey to parenthood, as well as how you can maintain your self-identity while navigating this new stage of your life.
Our guest, Arielle Martone, is a doctor of physical therapy and neuro-clinical specialist turned yoga teacher and certified pre and postnatal coach. Arielle made her transition from PT to coach after overcoming postpartum depression and pelvic pain after giving birth to her little one. During her own postpartum journey, Arielle realized the importance of addressing both the physical and emotional healing that needs to happen, and now she spends her days helping new mothers due just that.
Arielle created The Postpartum Revolution to help new moms reconnect mind /body and soul so they can reclaim their identity and ditch the "not enoughness" in order to parent confidently, partner passionately, and feel vibrant.
What does confidence mean to you?
I believe confidence is more of a practice than a static state of being. It is constant action knowing that you will ultimately be OK, whatever the outcome or situation is. It is knowing that if a circumstance isn't exactly what you were expecting or hoping for you can still make it through. Confidence is a deep self-trust. It is knowing that you have your own back, accepting yourself fully, and not apologizing for yourself.
In your experience, how does becoming a mother shape or change your confidence in self or sense of self?
Becoming a mother completely transforms you. You are stepping into a brand new role, one in which there is no preparation. I believe this is true whether you are a first-time mom or with subsequent children. You have to learn how to re-identify yourself. It is really common to feel lost and not know who you are anymore
It can feel really unsettling and because of that, we start to lose trust in ourselves, our abilities, and thus our confidence. Tack onto that all the physical changes that are occurring; the feeling that it's not even "your" body anymore and all the pressure to "bounce back" and it can spiral all those feelings of uncertainty with yourself.
How can we get feel like ourselves again after giving birth?
We have to first acknowledge it, admit we are feeling a bit disconnected, and be willing to start from scratch. I like to walk women through three main stages to get there.
Identify. What you are feeling, how your body is feeling, and what your values are.
Integrate. Focusing on reconnecting mind and body and integrating simple practices into your day.
Ignite. Committing to yourself and putting into practice what you uncovered about yourself in all areas of your life. Giving yourself space to acknowledge your passions and desires outside of motherhood and permission to be a whole person. Motherhood is a piece of who you are, a very important piece but still a piece.
As a postnatal coach, what are some of the core challenges you help moms work through?
One of the biggest challenges is the sense of not being enough, there are also a lot of perfectionist tendencies and people-pleasing to work through. As well as the physical issues ranging from general aches and pains while feeding or carrying their baby to pain with intercourse.
What are some quick and easy wellness practices for new moms to feel good and centered?
As a physical therapist I truly believe movement is medicine and yoga is an excellent tool for connecting mind and body. In early motherhood, a lot of what works best is getting back to the basics. I love encouraging walking outside, you can do it with your baby either in a stroller or carrier, it doesn't have to be very long, 10 minutes is a great start. I do suggest not listening to anything though so you can be present in the moment. Deep breathing is also a great goto that you can do anywhere. Visualize your pelvic floor lengthening and dropping on the inhale, and lifting gently on the exhale trying to keep your inhales and exhales even. You can think about breathing all the way down to your pelvic floor.
Tell us about your personal motherhood journey and how you found your way.
My journey to motherhood was long. I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility so it took me four years to have my son. Ultimately I had to do IVF for both of my children. I had to be induced with my son at 41 weeks due to low amniotic fluid and eventually after a very long labor and lots of pushing needed an emergency cesarean. I had a lot of thoughts about how my body was failing me on my quest to motherhood and how I didn't do it "right". There was definitely some shame with that. I never addressed that fully and when I had my daughter those thoughts resurfaced even though I had a successful V-BAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) I ended up being diagnosed with postpartum depression and rage as well as having physical symptoms of vaginal pain. I was putting a lot of effort into my recovery the second time around, there was no avoiding it this time around. On top of that, I was struggling with my identity and what I "do." I was taking time away and pausing my career as a physical therapist. I was really happy with the decision and ability to pause but it didn't make the transition any easier. Don't get me wrong even though I was struggling there was so much I was grateful for and I was strongly bonded. I think that can be part of the messiness of the postpartum journey. As I put in the work to heal my body physically, I resumed running and my physical yoga practice. I was also in therapy and reading and listening to a ton of self-development. It wasn't until I really started leaning on my yoga practice, really re-establishing my mind-body connection and staying more present that I started to feel better. Once I was able to accept who I was, flaws and all, and really understand myself better that things started to shift. Slowly things started to shift and I had more good moments than bad. It was a long road but putting the work in to heal the physical and emotional aspects of postpartum was so worth it. I have regained my confidence and feel like I parent and partner better because of it.
There are a lot of moments in life that make us question our identity and place in the world.
Did you experience that at all when you made the transition from full-time physical therapist to coach? Absolutely. It was a huge transition for me. I went from full-time physical therapist to stay-at-home mom to coach. One of the reasons I shifted was to be with my kids more than when I was in clinic (the other was because I saw a huge need to support new moms more fully), but I had some hesitations with it. I worked so
hard to get to where I was in my career, and I loved it. It took some time to adjust to the title of stay-at-home mom and once I finally was comfortable there, I changed it up again.
On your website, you share that you are a recovering perfectionist, as I think many of us are. Can you tell us about your path to overcoming perfectionism?
Allowing the space and time to heal postpartum is what helped me overcome (or at least check) my perfectionist tendencies. There is no room for perfectionism in motherhood so whatever aspects of perfectionism that may have served me well in my career were hindering my ability to feel good in motherhood.
How can moms do a better job of giving themselves grace?
First, learn how to give yourself grace when trying to give yourself grace, seriously. If it's new to you it will be a challenge at first so don't beat yourself up about it. I believe it becomes more natural as you start to re-identify yourself and acknowledge both your strengths and weaknesses. When we start to see our flaws but learn to love ourselves anyway we naturally have more compassion.
Do you have any self-care hacks for moms juggling different responsibilities?
I think the biggest thing I can say for self-care is to make it manageable and start with the basics. Make sure you stay hydrated, have water with you everywhere, and make sure you are eating enough. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and depleted when you are not nourished properly and so many new moms try to start dieting so early and I don't believe postpartum is the time to do that.
If you had to pick three positive affirmations to keep you inspired on a daily basis, what would they be?
"You got this!" I think this is a great one to start the day with as a new mom or really in general, reaffirm that you have your back and that you can and will get through the day, even if that day is just feeding, changing and trying to nap your baby.
"What I have to share is Valuable." I believe this is a really important one for those early days postpartum when you have had minimal adult interaction, share your day when able and share what you have to say because it is important.
"Everything I am seeking is already inside me." To me this gives me some peace and also gives me my power back.
Any final words of wisdom?
I said this previously but I think it's worth mentioning again. You are a whole person, mama! Please do not forget that. You are worthy and valuable as you are AND you can still be a loving mother when you acknowledge your needs. Also, I think it is really important to state that what is common isn't always normal and what is normal isn't always OK and while it is OK to not be OK you do not want to get stuck there. So if things seem off or you are not feeling how you would like to be feeling please seek some support and help as needed. You do not have to go it alone.