I know we have quite a few pregnant ladies at KFIT right now (and perhaps some thinking about becoming pregnant soon), so I wanted to share my experience with exercise after giving birth. I know everyone’s experience is different, but when I was pregnant, I found it interesting and even comforting to hear other women’s stories. I hope you find mine helpful!
It’s been just over 8 months since I gave birth to Quinn. And, just now, I’m finally starting to feel like my old self with regard to exercise and my body.
In the days following his birth, I didn’t even recognize myself. Things were swollen, sore, bleeding, oozing, and… well, it was not a pretty picture. I couldn’t even roll over in bed without wincing in pain, but those days of discomfort flew by and, before I knew it, my body mostly went back to the way it once was. I say “mostly” because it took quite awhile for my body to return to its old self and some things are still not the same even today.
My stomach: Right after I gave birth to Quinn, I was surprised to see that my previously pregnant belly didn’t deflate right away. The baby was out, but I still looked like I was 8 months pregnant! I really thought once I gave birth, I wouldn’t look pregnant anymore, but it took quite awhile for my uterus to go back to its pre-pregnancy size.
My bladder: I knew that a lot of women experience bladder issues after giving birth, so I did my kegels every single day during my pregnancy. (I was doing about 50 reps per day – usually in sets of 10 – just to give you an idea.) I went back to CrossFit at 5 weeks postpartum and one of my first workouts was one that included double-unders. (You know where I am going with this, right?) Thankfully, it was a HOT day and everyone, including myself, was sweating like crazy, so I acted causal as urine trickled down my legs as I did double-unders. My pelvic floor/bladder definitely wasn’t fully healed, so I kept doing my kegels and things eventually went back to normal. I still do kegels on a regular basis as well as planks and bridges at KFIT, which help to strengthen my pelvic floor, and now I don’t have any issues with my bladder– even when I do double-unders!
My abdominal muscles: Even 8+ months later, my stomach is still not totally flat. I have a little bit of ab separation (diastatsis recti), which doesn’t seem to want to heal. I’ve done all sorts of exercises to try to close the gap (it’s about 1-2 fingers wide), but it is still there. It’s only noticeable when I lie down and do the “finger test” (how to do it is linked above). The separation also prevents me from doing sit-ups, crunches, and any sort of exercise that puts pressure on the abdominal wall since it can make the separation worse. Planks, “dead bugs” and core exercises that have you “drawning in” your abs are said to help repair the separation, so I keep doing them and hope that things go back to normal.
I hope the moms-to-be found this post helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to stop me in the gym and ask away. I’m more than happy to talk about my experience!