So you just did one of the most miraculous things in the universe, you gave birth to a tiny little human! Congratulations! After nine months of pregnancy and a seemingly never ending series of changes in your body, are you ready to dive back into your fitness routine?
Maybe the answer is fuck yeah, let’s do this! Maybe the answer is, fuck no, I couldn’t possibly. Or maybe it’s, fucking maybe, but I’m exhausted and I have no idea where to start.
Great news, wherever you happen to land on this spectrum, you are perfectly normal and definitely not alone. Also, this transition is not as simple and swift as “they” say or as social media and television make it out to be.
If you are already a Ninja at MFF, then you are familiar with the phrase, “Run your own race.” Each of our journeys will look a bit different since we are all unique individuals with our own experiences. This could not be more true than when you are discussing postpartum needs and fitness.
So let’s talk about it! Where should you start?
That Elusive Pre-Pregnancy Bod
But alas, we know our bodies are more complicated than that. We are constantly inundated with media images of totally unrealistic bodies and timelines to get said bodies. It is a TON of pressure!
It’s also not realistic or helpful in any way. While wanting to recover, resume normal activities and feel strong and fit again is TOTALLY normal, allowing for some self-love and compassion are key here. A little self-love and gratitude go a long way.
A desire to get something back that you once had is something I think every human can relate to at some point in their life.
As a coach, I often hear things like, “I want be as strong as I was when…..” or “I want to get back to the size I was when…”. You fill in the blank. We all have those landmarks in life that we would like to time travel back to.
Most often though, we fail to recognize that we are different. Not only is our fitness different, but we as thinking and feeling humans are different. We have experienced new things that have allowed us to grow, change and have new perspectives.
So while we may want to go back, we are instead finding entirely new, uncharted and exciting territory. You may even surprise yourself and end up feeling better than you did then!
With that lens, I offer that you are forever changed after you have a baby. Not only your body, but your whole being is changed. You sustained and gave birth to a tiny human! You have entered into this exclusive club of female warriors who have given life!
You are forever changed. You are forever postpartum. Your body won’t go back to EXACTLY what it was before. It will, however, evolve and change and transform just like your mind and soul after experiencing one of the most magical and life-changing things in the universe.
You are going forward, not backward. Letting go of these expectations can be challenging but totally freeing as well. What will this new chapter look like for you? You are a SuperMom now, congratulations!
I Gave Birth, Now What?
Our current set of guidelines says that you can resume normal physical activity including work and intercourse six weeks after delivering a baby. That’s right, you created a miracle but in six weeks you should be good to go!
Now, all kidding aside, this recommendation may be realistic for some women but for most, it is not. It just adds to the pressure that you “should” be able to bounce back and have it all together.
There are so many factors that go into postpartum recovery including how active you were during pregnancy, if you had pain or complications in pregnancy, how many births you have had, how long and what type of delivery you had and whether or not you had any injuries in delivery.
There is such a wide range of possibilities here and each woman will have their own personal healing experience. For some it could be could relatively fast and for others it could take up to a year. Just know that wherever you happen to be, you are normal.
Your First Six Weeks
In both cases, breathing exercises that help to connect to core and pelvic floor muscles are able to be done immediately. If they cause pain for any reason, stop and try again in a few days.
Attempting light house work is OK, but if the birth was C-section avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby for these first six weeks. Here are some examples from our friends at Girls Gone Strong of things you can do almost immediately after giving birth:
At the six week marker is when most women have a check-up with their healthcare provider to receive clearance to return to exercise. You must have this clearance to begin working with a fitness professional.
At this point, you can return to the gym and create a plan with your coach. If you are already an MFF Ninja, this can be a great time to dive into some semi-private training and get a program designed for your exact needs.
If you are not and need some help getting started, the best way to reach out to us is to schedule a Health & Hotness Strategy Session. We can’t wait to take care of you!
Is This Normal?
There are an array of common issues that may or may not present in your body postpartum, all of which are normal but may require some extra help.
Pelvic floor dysfunction (when the muscles of the pelvic floor do not function properly) is very common both during and after pregnancy as well as pelvic pain and Diastasis Recti (when the rectus abdominis muscles in your abdomen separate to accommodate a growing baby).
All of these things are common but should be discussed with your doctor and coach to determine if you need specialized care.
For many women, seeing a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist will be incredibly important and helpful to retain optimal function in your pelvic floor. Pain and incontinence following birth are common but NOT normal and should be addressed to help you return to full strength and function. To locate a Pelvic Health PT, look here.
Again, if you have any questions, call your doctor.
The Power of #Community
Having a support system is key to our healing and success. 80% of women experience some form of “baby blues.” If you are struggling to get back to your fitness practice, reach out! Find a friend who wants to workout, join a parent group, stop by MFF and we will give you hugs and shower you with glitter!
No one ever said being a SuperMom was easy but don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
You’ve Got This, Momma
- Let go. Allow yourself the space to heal and let go of the idea that you will do this perfectly.
- Pace yourself. Run your own race when it comes to jumping back into physical activity and let your team of health care providers (doctors, midwives, doulas, pelvic health PTs, mental health specialists and trainers) be your guide.
- Get by with a little help from your friends. Reach out to friends, family and loved ones for support and seek out other new mothers to share your experiences.
- Baby, Baby. Enjoy your brand new little bundle of joy and take care of yourself. You deserve it and you’ve got this, SuperMom!
What’s been your postpartum hint to getting back to your workout? Comment below and share your amazing tips! #sharingiscaring
Looking for a loving fitness family to wrap their arms around you at any point in your journey? Schedule a Health & Hotness Strategy Session at Mark Fisher Fitness.