Postpartum is Forever
“Oh 💩…I’m a mom.”
Six months later, and this thought still creeps into my mind when I look at Addison. In part 1 of this series, I talked about how I navigated my pregnancy, and in part 2, I shared some things to consider as I reintegrated back into working out. The postpartum period can often get a bad rep. But postpartum doesn’t go away. There are so many considerations for a new mom (or mom with another new addition) and they only change as a child grows.
Here are the 5 things I’ve learned in this postpartum period:
Ask for help – and take it when it is offered.
It takes a village y’all. Family and friends want to help. Right now, I can’t make it to the gym without help. In order to coach, I need my parents to watch Addison. If I bring her to the gym with me, I recruit her “aunts” (or “Uncle Todd” preferably 😁) to hold her or entertain her while they’re waiting for their class to start while I finish my workout. If your gym community isn’t willing to help you, just in a small way, then you should reconsider that community. But help also comes in the form of therapy if you need it. If you’re depressed, see someone for it. If you’re having physical problems, see a pelvic floor physical therapist. If you aren’t sure how to get back into fitness, find a Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism coach. You, and your growing family, want you to be at your best. Getting there can be a journey that doesn’t have to be done on your own.
Do what you can, when you can. But know you can’t do it all.
We try to do it all. There’s this voice in our heads that tells us that no one can do our jobs as moms. (True, but that’s a conversation for another time.) But there are just not enough hours in the day to take on everything. The to-do lists are never-ending, so just be honest with yourself about what you can realistically get done in a day, and if you don’t even get through that, then just keep it moving. I recently came across a hashtag on Instagram: #morethannothing. I can’t do it all, I can’t even do things the way I used to do them, but I can do more than nothing. I may not be able to spend an hour and a half at the gym, but sometimes I can do the 45-minute ZipFit class. And when I can’t do that, I can do 15-20 minutes at home. You can almost always do more than nothing.
Do something, anything, just for you.
I tried so hard to do everything for everybody. I had to take care of my baby, the dog needed walking, and, of course, my husband still exists and desires (and deserves) some attention too. It is so easy to put everyone else before yourself during these first few months with a new baby. But eventually, that leaves your cup drained and empty. So whatever your thing is, make time for it. For me, it’s working out. Fitness just makes me feel good. Instead of complaining about not making it to the gym, I told my husband we would need to set aside some money in our budget so I could get some kettlebells. I workout in the garage or the living room, with and without Addison. For you, it might be reading a book, getting together with friends, or sleeping uninterrupted (haha, yeah right). You can’t take care of others, if you haven’t taken care of yourself. We hear it all the time, but it’s another thing to do it.
Your body won’t “bounce” back, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t strong.
This has probably been the hardest thing for me and the one I will struggle with long into this postpartum phase. I didn’t have a 6-pack or anything before, but I could wear a small t-shirt without my stomach showing. My body does not look the way it did before. I’m still 10 pounds heavier than my pre-baby weight and when I do suck in my stomach I see wrinkles from stretched skin. But my body is healthy, strong, and still more than capable to carry out my daily functions and then some. As moms, we have to extend ourselves the grace to focus on our overall health before our weight or body fat percentage. Also, if you’re talking to a new mom, even if they look great after having a baby, maybe compliment on something other than the way she looks.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
This one took me a while too, but it’s gotten better. There were two professional athletes, a CrossFitter and an Olympic weightlifter, who had babies right before I did. I loved seeing their posts during their pregnancies and felt like we were all part of a club even though we don’t know each other. But I was slightly discouraged when I saw them return to fitness so early and get their abs back so quickly. Why wasn’t I making the same progress as them? Daily, I had to tell myself that I am not them. Our birth stories weren’t the same, our recoveries, our circumstances, our goals and priorities are all uniquely our own. I appreciate their transparency in sharing their struggles, but at the end of the day, fitness is their job. I can only compare myself to where I was previously and where I’d like to see myself go.
This is my story.
If you’ve stuck with me through this series, thank you. Again, nothing I’ve said here is brand new, nor is it prescriptive for all. It’s just one woman’s story that maybe somebody else needed to read. This series isn’t just for pregnant and postpartum athletes, but also for those who live with, work with, and coach them. If you learned something about how you can help and support a mama, then I accomplished exactly what I set out to.