Postpartum fitness. It’s been blogged about before but every woman’s journey is different. Here’s my story so far…
A little background first:
Before I got pregnant, I really thought I’d be the fit, pregnant gal who ran and lifted up until the day I gave birth. Nothing ever goes as planned does it? At 12 weeks pregnant I did a TRX workout. A workout that didn’t feel over-strenuous or too far out of my comfort zone, and I felt good all the way through it. The following week I had horrible back pain. I was being woken 2-3 times a night from it. I was only 12 weeks pregnant! Surely, the ‘pregnancy’ back pain didn’t start this early! I continued to run and workout within my comfort zone, thinking the back pain was from the pregnancy and not an injury (as trainers, we tend to push ourselves a little too hard, am I right?). I mentioned it to my OBGYN at my 14 week appt and she said she wanted me to see a physical therapist because the pain was likely to only get worse. At 15 weeks, I saw the physical therapist who diagnosed me with a misaligned pelvis. Ouch! This meant, no more running or heavy lifting until everything got realigned. Tough pill to swallow! I never fully got realigned until I gave birth so my pregnancy was full of walks and that’s about it. Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy…an out of shape mama who could no longer run or lift and needed to do some serious postpartum work to get back in shape.
Birth is a serious workout. Your whole body goes through something quite traumatic so you have to be smart about recovery. I didn’t do anything but walk when, and only when, I felt good during the first 5.5 weeks. It took that whole time for me to start to feel good enough to stay awake for a workout much less actually do one. Not only was I recovering, but also taking care of a tiny little nugget!
At 5.5 weeks I felt good enough to do simple upper body workouts like bicep curls, shoulder presses, etc. Nothing that was too strenuous or pushed myself. Just the bare minimum to get myself back into a rhythm of working out again. At my 6 week follow-up appointment, I was cleared to run, lift, swim, etc. Woohoo! I went for my first run the next day and felt great! It was a very slow, short run but it felt so good to move again! From there I began focusing on lifting and body weight exercises. My pelvic floor muscles still weren’t 100% healed so I didn’t want to over do it with a high impact sport like running. I also avoided any exercises that put too much direct strain on my abs. I didn’t have diastasis recti (separation of your abdominal muscles), but I still wanted to fully let those muscles heal before putting too much direct pressure on them. I had a lot of work to do to get into pre-pregnancy shape not only because I had gotten so out of shape, but breastfeeding didn’t take the weight off like I was told.
I focused on HIIT workouts. Workouts that gave me the most bang for my buck, especially since I was racing the clock, aka nap time. Some days I felt great and would do 5 rounds of a workout and other days I could barely make it through 2. I just kept telling myself that progress is progress no matter how small and every little bit counted. Slowly but surely, I started to regain my strength and be able to continue on a more consistent workout schedule and push myself harder. It really helped me wake up each day and feel strong so I was able to better take care of my little girl.
I’m now almost 4 months postpartum and feeling great! Working out helps me stay sane even on the most exhausting days with a baby. I know that taking care of myself will help me take better care of sweet Madeleine. No, I’m not back into my old pre-pregnancy jeans nor am I at my pre-pregnancy weight, but I feel strong and healthy again. My journey isn’t over but it’s progress and that’s the most important thing. Progress not perfection!