During my first pregnancy I followed the advice I’d always heard, “Just listen to your body; do what you’ve always done; working out during your pregnancy will make delivery easier so stay fit and train for labour – the more fit you are, the easier your labour and recovery will be.”
So I did what I’ve always done. I went to the gym 1-2 times a week (modifying things as my pregnancy progressed), I did yoga and barre, I found pregnancy workouts on YouTube. I was so sure that staying fit during my pregnancy would mean I’d have a quick, easy labour and my body would bounce back sooner.
But that didn’t happen.
After a very long, hard 22 hour labour and ultimately a vacuum delivery, I was so relieved it was over. I was a mom. I was so exhausted. Yet so happy.
I was bawling and in awe of this little girl that I made. With my own body. It felt amazing to hold her and try to be present in the life changing event that just took place.
But I couldn’t help but feel like my body had let me down. Wasn’t that supposed to be easier? The labour went nothing like I’d planned. Little did I know that the labour I didn’t expect was just the beginning.
I came home from the hospital feeling weak, exhausted and completely in love yet overwhelmed. As the weeks went by I fell into an all-consuming routine of feeding, changing, snuggling, and trying to sleep in between all the things. I began to feel a bit more comfortable in motherhood but I couldn’t ignore the changes to my body.
My belly was squishy, my boobs were huge, I was getting insane back pain, I couldn’t even walk up the stairs in my house without getting crazy pressure in my pelvic floor and at 8 weeks postpartum when I tried to get back into the workouts I love, I struggled. Real bad.
I couldn’t do anything. I felt clumsy and weak. My core felt like Jell-O. Doing any kind of lifting made me feel all kinds of wrong. I couldn’t even do a basic squat or lunge without feeling weak and wobbly. I kept feeling this heaviness in my pelvic floor. Nothing was working the way it was supposed to.
And this was so hard. I was so worried and scared of what this meant. I felt like my entire identity was in jeopardy. Fitness is a huge part of who I am. I love to lift weights, push my body, challenge myself. So the fact that I couldn’t even do a simple lunge without feeling like I would fall over was devastating.
I was so frustrated. So worried. So crushed.
I was worried that I’d never feel like myself again. Never be able to stand in front of a 100lb barbell again. Never be able to jump, or run, or dance without feeling heaviness in my pelvic floor or feel like I might pee myself. Never be able to do the fun, athletic-y things I love without worrying if my body could handle it.
I wasn’t expecting to feel so weak.
I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life worrying about whether I could lift that weight, or do that move, or even just run and play with my kid.
And I hadn’t been a beginner exerciser in so long. So this was a huge blow to my ego. I didn’t want to be a beginner. I just wanted to get back into my usual workouts and have my strong body back.
I tried to hide it and pretend I was a totally happy new mom because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful or selfish because I was too focused on my body instead of my baby, but I was devastated. I resented my body. I felt betrayed. I felt angry.
I kept thinking, “Why is this so hard?”
“Why can’t I just feel normal again?”
“Why didn’t anyone tell me this would happen?”
And that last question led me on a very powerful path.
I was so lost with no idea what to do. I wanted to figure this out and I didn’t want other new moms to feel the way I did. So I did what I do best – I researched and I learned as much as I could about all things postpartum health and fitness.
I earned four postpartum fitness certifications from respected leaders in the field and learned how to regain my strength (and help other moms regain their strength too).
I’m now a mom of two. I have a 4 year old and a 1.5 year old.
I’ve had personal experience recovering from diastasis recti, dealing with bad back pain after my first delivery, as well as pelvic floor issues after both pregnancies (I had some symptoms of uncomfortable heaviness in my pelvic floor and feeling like – if I pushed myself too hard – I might pee myself).
I had to work hard to regain my strength and stability in my core, pelvic floor and entire body to feel strong enough to get back into my favourite high intensity workouts again with lots of lifting, planks and sit-ups, and high impact movements like running and jumping.
I now feel as strong as I did before my first pregnancy – if not stronger.
I move my body to feel good, not “look good” (although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look a certain way as long as it’s not at the expense of your mental, emotional or physical wellbeing).
I understand my body a lot better. I have the strategies I need to do the challenging workouts and just fun things I love to do without worrying if it’s safe or if my body can do it without symptoms.
The other night my 4 year old asked me to koala bear her (which means hold her on the front of me like she’s a koala baby) and I started dancing with her. It was the best. She was laughing. I was laughing and I had this huge feeling of gratitude over the fact that I could do this without worrying about peeing myself or putting too much pressure on my pelvic floor.
I don’t want other moms to feel the way I did, but I’m so grateful that I had the experience I had because it led me to this place today where I get to empower other moms to feel strong and enjoy their life again, without constantly worrying if whatever they’re doing – in the gym or on fun adventures – is safe for their body.
Our bodies are so resilient and I’m so happy I found the tools I needed to feel good again.
I’m so grateful I now have the freedom to just enjoy my life. Be happy. Feel strong. Have the confidence that my body is able to do all the things I want to do. Feel like my strong self again.
So while it may feel impossible at first, feeling strong, happy and good in your body after baby is possible.
As I often say to my clients, “Can you be open to the possibilities?”
Open to the possibility that you can feel strong?
Open to the possibility that you can feel good?
Open to the possibility that you can feel happy?
Because you can.
I’ve seen it happen over and over again.
So don’t give up hope.
With some patience, self-compassion and the right postpartum fitness strategies you’ll get there.
You’ve got this.
I’ve got you.
If you’d like to learn more about working with me, book a free Postpartum Fitness Strategy Session.
We’ll talk about what’s going on in your body and life, what’s not working, what you’d love to be able to do, how you want to feel, and I’ll let you know what working with me looks like.
And – if we’re the right fit for one another – I’ll invite you to become a client. No pressure. No salesy gimmicks. Just an invitation where you get to decide what feels right for you.
So many moms put other people’s physical and emotional needs before their own.
It’s time you focus on what you want and need.