Disclaimer: For some, writing openly about nutrition, diet, weight loss and a return to fitness postpartum is controversial. If you find this post triggering or off-putting, feel free to pass these posts by when they appear. Everyone’s journey is different in unique, and while I definitely don’t intend to make anyone feel bad or question theirs, I realize this could happen and it’s definitely not my intent. I only hope to share my own experiences. Note: This was written at the end of 2 weeks postpartum.
It’s no secret that there are a million “horror” stories about birth and postpartum recovery. Everything from women crapping on delivery room beds (yes I just wrote that) to never feeling like their lady parts resembled anything “normal” again. So then you can understand how someone like me couldn’t help but wonder what my own experience would be like.
For the most part, I was unmoved by a lot of the stories. I didn’t care about pooping (if it happened), bleeding, or hemorrhoids (okay I cared about those a little), I just wanted a healthy baby and a reasonably uneventful birth. I also cared about my recovery and ability to resume CrossFit training and running, because I knew both would be essential for my mental health over the first few months and winter. Plus it’s fun, reason enough right?
Everyone’s goals for “body after baby” are different, and rightfully so. For me, getting back to doing what I love and feeling good emotionally supercedes body part measurements and the scale. So that’s what my posts will focus on
I was surprised by how normal I felt after giving birth. After laboring for 24 hours naturally and a low-intervention “mobile” epidural, I hopped off the bed and used the bathroom under my own steam soon after, which the nurses said was atypical. I took the meds (800mg Ibuprofen, and a stool softener) they gave me at the hospital because they were pretty insistent and scheduled, but quit taking all but the stool softener within a week because I just didn’t feel that bad, save a little general soreness. I’m just the type that would rather feel a little pain and adjust my routine accordingly then mask it.
My only significant physical symptom over the first two weeks was the bleeding. The nurses were kind enough to load me up with pads, gauzy underwear, and witch hazel wipes, which helped immensely, and now (at 12 days postpartum when writing this) the bleeding is barely a period and I’m wearing my own undies. If you are pregnant, definitely find out what they will give you or make a big batch of padsicles, they will do wonders for your happiness level.
My body’s shape and size looks pretty close to pre-pregnancy, but I’m definitely feeling a little squishy in the mid-section, understandably so. I also feel like I have a much weaker midline, again understandable. I packed away all my maternity clothes and have been wearing mostly my old stuff, though I’m going to need all new bras.
For the most part, I’ve spent the past two weeks on the couch nursing. Kaitlan hit the magical day 10 growth spurt and has been eating pretty consistently about every 45 minutes to an hour. While I expected to pretty much be a boob buffet, the sheer magnitude of her eating is astounding. This leads me to…
I made it my primary goal to eat really well during pregnancy, and continued training until I went into active labor (literally). It allowed me to maintain good energy levels and stay more physically capable overall, and I knew I was doing right by Kaitlan. I also did it in the hopes that combined it would make labor and postpartum easier as well.
While my labor definitely wasn’t shorter, I feel like it definitely has made postpartum a lot better. With the exception of a little soreness, I barely feel like I was ever pregnant. I resumed walking the dogs solo and cleaning my house at 4 days postpartum. I still plan to wait until 4 weeks to begin a slow climb back with PT/CrossFit, but hope to do more vigorous walking beginning next week.
As I mentioned, I am focused on recovering performance and muscle much more than lowering the scale or measuring my body parts at this point. This is because in reality, it will actually be good to put weight on and for some areas of my body to regain size in muscle. In total, I ended up gaining around 18-20 lbs during pregnancy, and walked out of the hospital at pre-pregnancy weight, which wasn’t my lowest weight in the entire pregnancy. How it ended up shaking out for those interested:
6 week weight: 136 lbs
14 week weight: 127 lbs
37 week weight: 145 lbs
3 days postpartum: 135 lbs
12 days postpartum: 126 lbs
How I’m feeling mentally
The whole process of getting pregnant, being pregnant, and delivering a baby feels like the blink of an eye, and the contrast between the “before,” “during,” and “after” is so stark its surreal. It’s weird to go from hugely pregnant to not pregnant, and as I recovered pretty quickly, the contrast feels even more stark. Someone called me “mom” the other day, and it still doesn’t even feel real yet. It was the single biggest physical moment of my life and it’s over. It’s just…weird.
That being said, it’s both wonderful and a huge adjustment. I was used to going and doing whatever I liked, when it suited me. And now, while I wouldn’t say I’m hugely limited, it’s definitely a new normal. I’m largely tied to the house right now, and everything I have to get done has a greater sense of urgency and “hurry” to it. I’m heavily reliant on my lists to keep me organized and on task.
Sleep has been the greatest tragedy of parenthood so far. I haven’t had a full nights sleep since I went into labor, and although I’m not depressed, I definitely feel a sense of dread when night-time rolls around. She’s a really good baby and hardly fussy, but she definitely wakes up several times a night and doesn’t want to be in the bassinet alone. We’ll get there eventually.
So that’s what 2 weeks postpartum is looking like. I started talking to my coach about returning and starting mobilization and activation work next week, but for now I’m enjoying my tiny bebe and taking a lot of walks with the dogs. While I miss having active training goals and plans, it kind of feels like vacation in a way.
As everyone seems to approach these updates differently, I want to know from you…
What you’d like to see most with these updates? Physical recovery, training advice, life in general?
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Thanks for sharing your experience! I find everything about this very fascinating, although we’re not planning on having kids for at least 2-3 more years. I’m still filing away all this info for then! 🙂
I was the same way, I was so curious leading up to and during my pregnancy that I wanted to write about my experiences to hopefully pay it forward a bit. Hopefully with some more concrete data as we go along. The first post kind of (inevitably) was all over the place haha,
I imagine Crossfit definitely helped, but there’s also an element of luck. I tore quite badly during delivery, so it took my until 6 weeks or so post-partum to begin feeling more back to myself. By 10 weeks post-partum (now), I feel completely fine and like I can exercise and whatnot. My lady bits feel normal now. But at two weeks post-partum, I was taking slow half mile and one mile walks with my husband because I’d get faint from time to time. I also didn’t want to take lots of meds (so not a med person), but the tearing necessitated stool softener and plenty of ibu. I weaned myself off the ibu by 6 weeks post-partum, and I think I’ve just now weaned off the stool softener.
That said, I have friends who didn’t tear, and their experience is more similar to yours. One of my friends was out running 3-5 miles at 4 or so weeks post-partum.
Goes to show that every body is different. I do know that I plan to do more exercise next time I’m pregnant. I just really lost the thread during this pregnancy — was working on a master’s degree, doing lots of curriculum writing, and teaching. I swam quite a bit in my last month, and I plan on doing that throughout for the next pregnancy. I think that will make a difference. I can totally see how good fitness would help the recovery period.
I also feel you on the hourly eating. My little one did that until she went to daycare, and it was quite wearing. If you’re able to find any time at all to pump, I recommend you start doing so now (and read tips online to help out). I’m still getting into a pumping rhythm at three weeks back to work and struggling to get enough for my gal.
You know, it’s hard to say if CF had any role. Maybe mentally in making me feel more confident, but I think like you said, it’s completely hit or miss and totally dependent on how the birth unfolds. I only had the small internal tear, but just the pain of that…I can’t imagine what recovery would have been like had it been worse — the first few days were SO painful.
I wasn’t able to pump that much in the first two weeks, but have been trying to make up for it in the second half of my leave. I think I’m on bag 8 now. I wish I could pump more, but she’s still eating quite a bit and that definitely limits me.
For sure, just do what you can pumping-wise. My little one likes to eat snacks often, which is not conducive to pumping. I finally had to follow my LC’s advice of “feed your baby.” I have a bit of a stash built up (maybe 30some ounces now?), and I pump 2x a day at work, which is what I can realistically do and get my work done. I pump 8 oz a day and she eats 12 at daycare, so we supplement a little. And it is OK. I don’t love it, but it’s what works for us and gets her fed. I still feed her entirely on weekends and in the evenings, so my supply is fine. My body just doesn’t love the pump.
FYI, the stash is important for that day when you don’t get enough pumped. I’ve found I use the stash sometimes and add to the stash sometimes.
Just sharing in case you have the same difficulty. I beat myself up so badly about it at first. The key is feeding your baby, and I’m happy I can give her as much breastmilk as I can.
re: the healing, I’m all healed up now and fine. The tearing sucked, I had pain, and it got better. The timeline is just different. On the bright side, all I went through made me so excited when I could finally wear pants! I wore skirts every day until 6ish weeks. And now I can wear jeans!
I was just telling Neil how much parenting makes you appreciate the little things you always took for granted. Putting on mascara, grabbing coffee successfully on the way home from the gym — which you got to on time!
I’m coming to grips with the fact that we’ll probably have to supplement. I just don’t know if I (my supply will be enough). And you’re right, it’s totally okay if she’s getting fed and I’m somewhat sane. Every time I give her a bottle, it ends up being almost 4 oz. — which is taking me half a day to pump at this point with her feedings. And at work I can’t imagine I will be able to pump as much as I am now. Just reality, but I’m happy that my supply is mostly good and she’ll get plenty of breast milk. Our best is good enough. 🙂
Obviously I have no experience with childbirth and obviously looks aren’t everything, but I have to say it – DAMN, GIRL. You look amazing! If I wasn’t following along closely the whole time, I wouldn’t have even known you were pregnant. I hope your road back to fitness and feeling good continues to be steady. You’re a rockstar!
Recovery is all mental, and it’s reaaaaaaallly hard to be patient, especially during Fall when all I want to do is RUN!
What will be really fun is next fall when K is old enough to sit in the jogging stroller (and hopefully patient enough to stay for 30 minutes). Running all the places then! I’m so looking forward to that. I’d run now, but I can’t find the time, and the jogging stroller isn’t safe to use for running with a carseat.
I can’t wait for that time! If she’s anything like she is now, she’ll still very much want to be GO GO GO all the time. Kid does NOT like to sit still unless she’s sleeping.
Looking so good, momma! I love the moments where it really sinks in that “I’m this baby’s mom!” I can still hardly believe it.
Working out wise… I’m not sure if it’s because I’m still nursing and we’re still not sleeping too well but 8 months in I’m still feeling a bit off my game when it comes to heavy weight and high intensity. I’m looking forward to these posts!
I definitely lack the same focus or tenacity so far, and it’s been a huge mental transition that I won’t say hasn’t brought me to tears more than a few times. For now, I’m happy just to not be pregnant, so we’ll start there and slowly build back.
Wow, you look awesome! My birth did not end up the way I had hoped, at all. I’m definitely interested in hearing how you get back into fitness once again. I can’t wait to work out but with a c-section I’ve got awhile before that happens.
So happy for you that you are feeling/looking so great!
Thank you so much! Hope your pregnancy is going well!
bookmarked!!, I really like yur blog!
I am catching up on your blog and updates and loving them!!!