Fitness After Birth Looks Different…and that’s OK!
May 27, 2021
A question someone asked me just over 3 weeks after having Emmett. Along with the vaginal wound from delivery, there is also an 8.5-inch wound inside my uterus that is still healing…
So no, I haven’t lost all the weight. My amazing dog Dash deserves decent walks throughout his day. This was my only form of exercise for the first 6 weeks postpartum. I have pants that don’t fit and shirts that fit different. It took 9 months to build a living, breathing human and it’ll take just as long -if not more – for my body to heal.
“Bye Bye Baby Belly Pooch”
You may have seen the ads targeted at new moms. They all claim to want to help you “bounce back”. I’ve never hated a term more. I get it, the bump is cute but the pooch isn’t. How are we supposed to not have body image issues when in our most challenging and vulnerable moments, we’re told our appearance is what makes or breaks us? They talk about the “miracle of childbirth” and follow it up with “How to lose the baby weight FAST” click bait.
In yoga we learn that the body is a vehicle to the soul. So, in that respect, I’m not this body. It carries me and it carried Emmett and that makes it amazing! I have so much love and respect for what it’s done…more so than I ever have in 26 years. But, I am so much more than just this body. So, it frustrates me when someone asks me if the weight is gone. As if it’s something to be ashamed of. They try to cover their ignorance by saying I didn’t gain too much during pregnancy. Does that make it acceptable for you?
I could have asked what difference it made to them…was their life affected by my weight gain or loss? But, I don’t see the point. What bothers me more is that people don’t understand why it’s so so very wrong to ask someone this question. I’m 26! I’ve struggled with disordered eating! I just had my first baby!
So, I haven’t lost the baby weight just yet.
I’m not in a rush. Yeah, sometimes I look in the mirror and think this body doesn’t look or feel like me. But, I came to love the growing bump! A little someone kicking me, letting me know they were there. It made any insecurity about pants not fitting okay because I got something at the end of those 9 months. Now that Emmett’s here with us though, all that’s left is a soft tummy reminding me of the new adventure I’m on.
Fitness after birth has to look different. I’m just starting to move in more ways than a daily walk. I trusted that it was important to wait those 6 weeks…to confirm with my midwives that it was safe to begin exercising. With that green light, I can feel the areas of my body that aren’t as strong as they once were. They aren’t weak; they’ve been through a lot!
Making time for postpartum movement is a challenge all on its own. With Justin back to work, Emmett, Dash and I are just trying to find our groove most days. I may want to get back to the old me sometimes, but the beauty of a newborn is they make you slow down. Even when you don’t want to or don’t think you need to; when you couldn’t possibly with the growing list of things to do. They make you rest.
Raise your hand fi you love schedules and to-do lists?
Schedules are great; truly I love them, but I know it’s just not realistic to put a baby or myself on a timetable. Because fitness after birth has to look different. Consistency and routine have value, but on-demand care is more important; being able to adapt to both of our needs as we go. Because sometimes we just need more feeds, more comfort, more skin to skin, more walks outside, etc.. I’m resolving to wake up earlier than Emmett so that I can have a little “me time”. We’ll see how that goes… Deep down, I know that as we find our momentum this time will come more freely. But, it’s not always easy to remember that in the moments when all you want to do is go to the bathroom without your baby crying because you put them down.
I did a Diastasis Check at 6 and 8 weeks postpartum (check out @theathleticpelvis for more on this. I’m learning so much from her; it’s kind of awesome being a few weeks behind her journey to see what’s coming up). I don’t appear to have a severe separation in my abdominal muscles and they’re definitely healing more and more each week. But, I know I need to take it easy. I’ll forever be a gymnast mentally, meaning that slow is not my first instinct or even my second. Yoga helps but of course, I have no idea what my practice looks like these days. I like to push myself and I really want to get back to headstands and planks, handstands and cartwheels. I can also feel just how sore my body is from the most basic of stretches.
Movement after Birth looks different…and that’s OK!
For now, my movement looks like daily walks, breathwork, core and pelvic floor exercises. I’m taking it day by day. What I’m always reminding myself of, and if you’re in a postpartum journey of your own I want you to remember this as well, is that it’s okay for your movement, exercise and fitness to look different after birth. We’re not meant to look the same our whole lives. We’re just NOT. Change is good. It may be hard, but change is good 🙂 So, lean into it. Lean into the change, to the softness of your tummy, to the slow stretching where there was once sweat dripping. Lean into the jeans that fit you NOW (remember that clothes are meant to fit you, not that you’re meant to fit into clothes). Most importantly, lean into the moments of rest especially when you think you don’t have time to stop.