Happy Fitness Friday! Congratulations. You’re now in the fourth trimester and you just had a baby. Let me repeat. You. Just. Had. A. Baby. It is ok to look and feel like you just had a baby. I have no idea when the postpartum journey became a battle between who can bounce back the fastest.
Was it Heidi Klum who walked the Victoria’s Secret runway 6 weeks postpartum, in her underwear nonetheless, or a mom who competed at the Crossfit Games 8 months after popping a kid out? You cannot compare your postpartum journey to someone else’s. A general rule of thumb is 9 months to grow a baby, 9 months to get back to normal. If you make it back faster, great! Good for you but do not make any other moms feel bad about their journey.
No one cares that you lost your baby weight in 1 week. No one cares that you’re working out 1 day postpartum. We all secretly hate you and your good genes. Clearly these are exaggerations but you get the point. It is important to set realistic goals. It’s important to not push your body more than necessary. If I could take it all back, I would not have committed to a team and to the 2016 Crossfit Open. I would have taken my time returning to competitive crossfit but there’s no crying over spilled milk. Hindsight is 20/20.
What is the Fourth Trimester?
The fourth trimester is the first 3 months after you have your little one, when everything is so new to you and your baby. Even if this isn’t your first baby, you have a brand new tiny person to get to know. Sparing all the gory details, the fourth trimester is a 6 week long menstrual cycle, coupled with complete and utter exhaustion all while wanting to lose the baby weight ASAP. Here is the best description of the grossness of the fourth trimester.
Your days will blend together. If you’re breastfeeding, you will feel a pain in your boobs like none other. Your baby will possibly cry for no reason. None of your regular clothes will fit but your maternity clothes will be too big. If you have more than one child, you will be doubly exhausted because “sleeping when the baby sleeps” is impossible. The list goes on and on.
Just know that after 3 months, you will find a routine and you will find your new normal.
“Did your doctor approve you to workout before 6 weeks?”
Yes and no. At my 6 week check up, her first question was, “When did you go back to the gym?” My response was 16 days. She was surprised I waited that long. It was an unspoken agreement that I would go back when I felt ready. I do not recommend going back before 6 weeks, 10 weeks if you had a C-Section.
Feeling my way around a barbell again. Postpartum things to remember: 1️⃣ you just grew a human 2️⃣ your hands will be raw and tender until your calluses grow back 3️⃣ your muscle have atrophied due to not using them as much 4️⃣ you will be sore. Like really sore. 5️⃣ everything will feel ten times heavier than normal 6️⃣ sleep deprivation does not help recovery AT ALL. TAKE NAPS. 7️⃣ listen to your Doctor. #liftlikeamother #postpartumjourney #postpartumfitness #roadto2016 #teamCFWS #snatch #crossfitmom #doAsISayNotAsIDo
“How did you heal your core (diastasis recti)?
Breaking Muscle has a great guide for healing your midline post baby. Once you’re cleared to start exercising again, I highly recommend their program. I did not use my weight belt until I felt stable without it. While my lifting numbers may seem heavy, I didn’t go past 70% of my maxes until around 6-8 weeks postpartum. At 7 months postpartum, I have yet to hit any of my old maxes and I am 100% ok with that. My maxes are true maxes (235lb clean and jerk and 205lb snatch) so I’m being patient.
My least favorite move – the clean. I've definitely been taking it really easy with this lift. I wasn't able to squat my whole pregnancy so I've lost a lot of leg strength. I started getting shaky around 165lbs so I naturally I switched to the power clean 💁🏾 I've also been focusing on rebuilding my core using breaking muscle's diastasis recti 12 week program. Even after 10 days, it feels so much more stable! I will not use my weight belt until my core is healed. #diastasisrecti #postpartumfitness #takebackpostpartum #liftlikeamother #teampowerclean #babydeerlegs #allthesquats #crossfitmom #breakingmuscle #cleanlikeamomma
“Did you diet?”
100% yes. With the help of RP Strength and Jen Case, I was able to lose most of my baby weight during my 12 weeks working 1:1. If you are going to diet, I highly recommend you wait until 6 weeks postpartum and do so with the guidance of someone who is familiar with breastfeeding. I would NEVER risk my milk supply for a diet.
Some other important things to remember during your fourth trimester:
- You just grew a human. That is one of the hardest things you can do in your lifetime. Be patient with yourself.
- Once you’re cleared to exercise, pay close attention to bleeding. Bright red means you’re pushing yourself too hard. Slow down.
- Breastfeed or pump before exercise or risk squirting milk into the sink because you’re super engorged (said from experience)
- Do not neglect your core work. Avoid sit-ups, GHDs, Toes to Bar. Hanging hollow holds are a great sub!
- Lack of sleep makes recovery more difficult. Keep this in mind when you’re wondering why you’re too sore to wash your hair.
- If you’re feeling abnormally blue, please do not ignore it. Postpartum depression is a real thing. Know when to ask for help.
- Enjoy the journey. It goes by way to fast. You’re going to blink and your newborn will be crawling around getting into everything.
Now excuse me while I go make another baby. This post brought up all the baby fever feels!
Disclaimer: This is not to be taken as medical advice. Please seek the approval of your OB or primary care physician before beginning a new workout regimen.