A few of my good friends and a client of mine have all had a baby within the last month. New babies always make me feel a bit nostalgic and I think of that special time with both my babies. I am also currently studying and obtaining an additional pre-and post-natal fitness certification so I have also been thinking about how I returned to exercise after having my kids and what I think I did right and what I wish I would have known or done different. Here are the few things, not all exercise related that I wish I could tell every new mom.
A new baby is such an awesome, stressful, amazing, beautiful time and it goes by so fast and at times you wish it would slow down and at times you wish it would speed up to the time when the baby sleeps longer or when you think it might get easier. Wait to try to figure it all out. Wait to try to get into a routine. Wait to try to get things back to normal. And most of all, please wait to return to intense exercise. This is so much easier to say now that I am not at that stage but I wish I would have waited. I was often anxious to get back to my routine of exercise and normal life but once you have a baby there is no real returning to your life before. You are forever changed in wonderful ways and some very challenging ways. I had intense back pain 9 months postpartum and I just wish I would have waited longer.
2. Its okay to happy, mad, sad, exhausted
Nothing can prepare you for those first few months after child birth. It does matter how many books you read or how many other moms you talk to. Nothing will prepare you for the awesomeness of becoming a parent but it also one of the hardest jobs I have ever had or will have. The exhaustion is unlike something I have ever known. Postpartum is hard. Not are you only extremely under slept, overwhelmed and stressed, often breastfeeding constantly, you are trying to take care of this human being and figure out what the hell you are doing. All the emotions are totally normal. Not every day is going to be staring into your babies eyes in magical bliss. Some days are going to be a complete shit show. I remember my husband coming home when I was on maternity leave and I just started crying because Caleb wouldn’t nap that day and I thought I was doing something wrong and I was just so tired. Honestly, some days now are a total shit show. Some days I nail it, but many days I do not. I still have all these emotions on the regular. Embrace all those feelings as totally normal.
A really great and smooth morning on the way to school this week.
3 .Doubt is probably the second most common emotion you will have after love.
The love you feel is indescribable but so is the doubt. I do not think my doubt will go away until my kids are at least 35. 😉 In my blog on Caleb’s 4th birthday I mentioned that I will probably always question myself with parenting and I think that is fairly true. There is no manual for this. Though I like to be prepared and read a kajillion books on parenting and still do, there is no preparation for the everyday experiences and being in the trenches. Keep going mama, you are doing an awesome job even when you do not think you are.
4. When you start to workout again, don’t focus on getting smaller, focus on getting stronger. Most moms who come to me for post-natal training want to lose their baby weight. And I was the exact same. Losing the weight I put on and getting my ‘abs’ back were my main priority physically. As mentioned my recovery with Caleb was fairly easy so I thought I that is how it would be for my second. I did not do the necessary core and pelvic floor healing that I should have done which came back to hurt me a lot 9 months later with Madelynn. Fat loss and shrinking does not need to be the main goal. Can it be a nice side effect and perk of returning to exercise? Of course, but can we as a society and my fellow fitness professionals promote proper healing and recovery first? Can we stop gawking at the celebrities who pretend to get their body back in 6 weeks? If they lost the weight, great but who knows how they are really feeling and functioning. Regardless of how fast the weight is loss, no postpartum body is fully recovered and healed at 6 weeks. And how will they be feeling and functioning in 6 months? Our bodies are forever different and forever changed. Postpartum is forever. My main goal now as a pre-and post-natal fitness professional is to help mamas heal their body, stop being so hard on themselves and get their body functioning to a place they want to be. I hope they lose the weight if that is there goal but I more so hope their body feels good and they can get on the floor to play with their little ones, give piggy back rides, go running, lift weights without pain and feel good in their own body.
You are going a good job mama! What do you wish you would have known or could tell other mamas? Would love to hear from you!