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Morgan's Postpartum Journey

I’ve been training postpartum women for years now so it’s exciting to have my own experience to share! I want to share my postpartum experience to give some insight or inspire other postpartum women to seek out strength training in their postpartum journey. I want postpartum women to feel empowered by their body and not disappointed with the changes. Postpartum is a wild experience that is unique to everyone so it can feel very lonely, but our shared experiences can bring inspiration and community to one another. 

Postpartum exercise can be scary because there are many resources and information on the Internet, and it’s hard to tell what information is backed by research and what information is outdated. It can be scary, and when people are scared, they do nothing instead of doing something. Fortunately, postpartum doesn’t have to be a scary time to exercise. When I say postpartum exercise, I don’t mean running a marathon right after birth.  What I do want is to help women move their bodies in ways that feel good to them during postpartum and also prepare them for interacting with their newborn baby. A lot of times after Vaginal delivery and cesarean delivery women are warned to be careful lifting weight over ten pounds but they’re bringing home a six to ten pound baby in a car seat that probably weighs about ten pounds and so they walk out of the hospital carrying twenty pounds. Can you see the issue here? I’m not recommending that we should ignore our doctor’s recommendations, especially if you’ve had stitches with delivery either vaginally or cesarean. Another concern during postpartum is postpartum depression and we know that exercise is linked with decreasing depression and so why wait to inspire postpartum women to exercise? 

I want to give women confidence in their ability to move their bodies postpartum. In the first weeks following delivery, your movement should be very limited to staying in or close to your bed and taking care of your newborn baby. (To see how I prepared for having a baby, read my last blog here.) Some of the things that I thought about immediately following delivery was reengaging my abs and my pelvic floor muscles. I experienced a vaginal delivery with a grade two tear, so I did have some Stitches. My issues after delivery included normal postpartum bleeding and incontinence and neither of those things are very fun and so I wanted to heal as quickly as possible. I was lucky enough to have a lot of help at home and so I was able to basically rest for the first week while my husband took care of things at home and brought me the baby frequently so I could do as little as possible. Week two I started walking around my house a little bit more and doing more of my normal tasks of daily living and feeling a little bit more and more like myself each day. By week three I was feeling up to very short walks and getting outside for some fresh air. One way that I really helped myself mentally was by spending time outside. I do want to mention here that if you are worried about postpartum depression or are experiencing postpartum depression, it’s super important to get professional help. Even in those first two weeks when you don’t want to get out of bed if you can go sit outside in a chair, especially in the sun, can be incredibly helpful.  

As I continued to heal during my postpartum journey, I slowly increased how far I was going for walks each day and intentionally spent time one to two times a day focusing on my breath and reconnecting with my abdominal muscles and my pelvic floor to continue to improve my issue with incontinence. By the time I made it to my six-week appointment I was feeling very good. I had worked up the ability to walk a mile and a half and did intentional breathing and light movement at home. I had stopped bleeding by the three-week mark and that was a pretty good indication to me that things were healing properly, and I felt good about the amount of movement I was doing. I’d like to add a note here that everyone heals differently, and you should consult with your doctor if you have concerns about your healing, especially if it's before that six-week mark, don’t wait.  

Once I was cleared by my doctor at the six week mark to start increasing my exercise I began my strength training routine and a light yoga routine. These are things that I was doing throughout my pregnancy and felt very confident in my body’s ability to resume my activity but at an easier intensity than I left off with even during pregnancy. Strength training during postpartum is all about staying connected to your body and preventing injuries that are common with newborn care. Just like preparing for labor is important so is preparing to take care of a growing child. I also believe that it is very important to start an exercise routine as early as possible during postpartum because then it just is a part of your routine and you model that healthy behavior for your child. Creating time to exercise with your child or time away from them, whatever works best for you, shows that you make time for yourself and I think that’s a really great thing for our kids to see. As I’ve been taking my own advice, I have days where exercise just can’t take priority, but I make sure that the following day it does. I make sure to give myself grace on the hard days and look for small wins, just like I do with my clients. Remember, exercise is about the overall consistency and showing up even when it’s hard, not the quality of one workout here and there. Consistent average workouts yield better results that sporadic workouts.  

At Breakthrough Fitness we use evidence-based resistance training models to create programs for women who are postpartum in person and virtually. Making exercise sustainable is a part of our mission. If you have questions after reading my postpartum blog, contact us for a free complimentary workout to learn more. Also, you don’t have to be immediately postpartum to get the benefits of postpartum exercise. It’s never too late to start strength training! 

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