I am going to try and keep this shorter than the last post. I want to cover the post-partum period and getting your body back.
My post-partum period was a whirlwind of emotions. I was adjusting to being a new mom, learning how to get out of bed in under a 3 minutes to attend to my baby, breast feeding, not knowing if I am feeding Theo enough and adjusting to hormonal surges. It’s is a lot to handle, and I feel that a lot of people never talked about adjusting into motherhood. Being an A type and an athlete I had very high expectations of what I was going to be able to accomplish and do. I set myself up for a hard fail. I felt as a mom that I should be able to do a lot more than I was able to. I was supposed to be able to give birth naturally, somehow I failed at that. I was supposed to be able to breast feed my baby, and I didn’t do that, and I am supposed to be automatically bonded with this little crying small human, and that took time. I think I was so exhausted from birthing Theo that my emotional status to bond with him was diminished. My bond with Theo grew more and more every day. I did not receive that instant OMG feeling. I still am getting my head around being a mom and it has basically been a year.
The transition into motherhood was hard. I had many learning lessons. I was so caught up on learning how to pump and feed Theo, while being able to sleep, I forgot to eat. I started throwing up in the mornings when I had gone too long between meals. After a lot of research I found that this happens when you are sleep deprived, stressed, and not eating regularly. My mindset while I was pregnant was that I am not going to try and be supermom, I am going to take care of myself first so I can take care of my baby and partner. It was so much harder than I expected. I needed so much more love and understanding for myself than I could have imagined. I remember being weepy every day for almost 3 weeks after giving birth. I thought I was experiencing post-partum depression. After talking to my midwife she told me that it is normal. Who knew that after your child is born it is not rainbows and sunshine all the time?
I want to set the record straight on pumping/breast feeding and losing weight. It is not a guarantee that you are going to lose the weight. You still have to watch what and how much you eat. I lost about 20 lbs right off the bat with Theo, the afterbirth (which was large), and some water weight. The last 37 pounds did not just shed off, even when I produced double the amount of milk a normal female produce. It took time and discipline. I had to watch what I ate and how much I ate. I started my post-partum journey on the anti-inflammatory diet with chicken broth 2x/day. I was taking my prenatals, collagen and homeopathic arnica and intensive probiotics; to offset the IV antibiotics I was on during labour and after when I had to clear an infection for my membranes being open for too long. I gradually started to eat all different types of foods to expose Theo to that in my breast milk. He had no reactions and loves spicy, even now. I was very careful and stayed away from a lot of supplements and herbs to make sure he was going to be fine. Theo was thriving, but little did I know that I was not keeping up with myself care and I was starting to deplete more than I should be.
I was cleared to start running about 2.5- 3 months after birth. My pelvic floor physiotherapist was the one that cleared me, and told me not to use the MUTU system since my pelvic floor was still very tight. I did not stretch the pelvic floor since I had a c-section. I still had to work on loosening it. I found that having a C-section allowed me to get back to cardio faster, but abdominal work was a slow and steady climb. After my C-section I remember thinking how often we use our abs and never even think about it. Standing was hard. Getting onto all fours was horrible. Try lying on your back and keeping your knees at 90 degrees…. It was tough. I was determined. I was going to get my pre- pregnancy body back, and weigh the same if not a little less. This is still a goal I am trying to achieve. I am about 5 lbs away 11 months later.
I worked hard and thought I was going slowly. I remember I ran my first 5 Km 4 months after giving birth and my first 10 km 5.5 months after giving birth. I though running and doing weights on alternating days was a good way to start. It wasn’t intense. I made sure to keep up my exercise throughout pregnancy and I walked every day and did my ab work to make sure I would get back into shape quickly. After being cleared at 3 months to run and work out, 2.5 months later was not a smart Idea to be running 10 KM. My athletic mommas, it will come, but you have to be more realistic. It is possible to do, but it took its toll and I didn’t see it until I my son was 11 months old and I could not clear a cold. My face started to swell and my lymph nodes were the size of small tennis balls. I did too much for too long.
Take your time to get your body back. I mean your goals need to be gentle. I know you are more than capable of achieving those impressive goals where on the outside it seems very impressive. In the long run it isn’t worth taking your time to build properly. The analogy of lifting too much too quickly comes to mind. You think you’re ready and all you are doing is setting yourself up to get hurt. My mentality should have been, I’m going to get there, but I am going to give myself a year. You will get there before a year, but how hard you push is going to be different. I hated looking at my post-partum body and I wanted my body back. I pushed to accomplished goals, but my body took its time to get back to normal no matter how hard I pushed. I had to stop breast feeding to get my waist line to narrow, and get rid of all the water weight. Even then it is 3 months after you stop breast feeding where your hormones will regulate better. Your brain is going to take 2 years to go back, but that is a whole different story.
In general your strength is going to still be there. Your body mechanics are going to be off. Your body is morphing back to pre-pregnancy and your tendons/ligaments are still more flexible than they were before. So start at a weight you know is going to be safe and adjust accordingly. I really recommend doing Yin yoga and sprints first compared to distances and heaving weights. The more you honour your body the better your body will build. The faster you will get the results you are looking for. It takes a different mentality that most athletes have. Your body has been through so much and if you are breast feeding, not sleeping and maybe going to go back to work, you’re body does not need that extra push at the gym. It needs nourishment through movement. Incorporate this longer than you think you need. Trust me, the athlete mentality was not my friend right off the bat. I am having to rebuild all over again so I can sustain my results for the years to come. It is about longer term gains not short term wins that athletic momma’s need to focus on.
Now I am back at work, no longer pumping and 5 lbs away from my goals. I’m going to tell you, when I was trying really hard to lose the extra 7-8 lbs at the gym, the scale did not budge. I was thrown a health set back where I needed to readjust my mentality and the weight is shedding off. Your body is going to hold onto whatever it needs to. If you are too depleted, your body is going to hold onto the extra weight. I started honouring yin and nourishment and I feel better. I am losing the weight I was desperately trying to shed and my skin colour is starting to come back. Please use my story as encouragement to be nicer to yourself. I know athletes have high expectations and a give it all mentality. Motherhood is going to teach you many lessons, and balance is key. At least this is what it has taught me.
Thank you for following my Pregnant Athlete Blog series. I hope you enjoyed it, and as always if you have any questions, or comments please feel free to comment below or email me at email@example.com.