I’ve been a CrossFit athlete for over 4 years now and I’m about to celebrate my youngest kid’s 2ndbirthday. I got pregnant with him right in the middle of my CrossFit experience. When I got pregnant with my oldest, that happened right in the middle of my most unhealthy years. As you can imagine, those two pregnancies are stark contrast from each other. While my first pregnancy had more aches, more weight gain, more negative self-talk, more spaghetti, more soda, and longer more tormenting labor, it also had a more passive recovery. I didn’t give much thought to what I was doing or the activities I participate in after that baby. I just sat a lot, watched TV, and took in plenty of calories. After my “Crossfit pregnancy”, I thought about it all the time. I’ve learned so much about what it means to be an athlete and a Mom. Nearly 2 years later and I’m still bringing consideration to how I move my body on account of giving birth to a person. You should too.
Most recent figures show that by the end of their childbearing years, 86% of U.S. women have had kids. That means 86% of women are postpartum, no matter if your baby is 22 years or 2 months. If you broke your leg, you’d expect to look and act as if you broke your leg. If you had shoulder surgery, we would want you take into consideration your shoulder surgery, whether it was last year or 10 years ago. Women who have had a child are no different! This should cross your mind when you train. I won’t lie and say social media and other influences didn’t have me wanting to pose while holding a 6-week-old and sporting noticeable abdominals. I wanted to slip back into my old jeans like nothing happened. I wanted to get back into the gym and work as though I did not experience a forever body altering change. However, that would have been unrealistic and dangerous. No matter how long ago your pregnancy was, it’s a good idea to pause and consider what your body has been through.
Taking care of yourself and regaining your fitness are doable post-pregnancy goals that you can achieve without sacrificing your health, your body’s function, and your sanity, without setting back your healing and recovery. In fact, these are the most important goals-especially in the months and years when your children are babies and toddlers. Imagine yourself crawling around the back of a minivan looking for a pacifier or lugging around a car seat with a baby strapped in. These everyday activities with littles require so much of your body! Mama doesn’t have time for a sore back!
With the above in mind, here’s a term to know and some steps to consider if you’ve had a baby recently, are nursing, may get pregnant, have had a baby long ago and suspect you never healed properly, or you love or workout with someone who identifies with the above.
What is diastasis recti?
When women become pregnant the abdominals (rectus) need to separate to make room for the growing baby. However, when the abdominals do not come back together after pregnancy, women can experience a weak core, back pain, hernia, and many other complications. This is a common concern around mama’s, especially new and nursing mamas. If you think this could relate to you and want to read up a bit more here’s some helpful info. http://www.juliewiebept.com/diastasis/diastasis-zip-it-up/
- Give your body adequate time to heal well after birth. Pregnancy is taxing, and labor is a huge event. You might even be recovering from surgery. Rest is best. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move, stretch, or strengthen. Be cognizant of how much time you spend on your feet.
- Come back but come back slowly.You can’t simply jump back into high-intensity, heavy weights, or even full CrossFit classes. Going too hard too quickly will increase your risk of experiencing a setback. It could lead to back pain, pelvic pain, weakness of the pelvic floor, or pelvic organ prolapse. If you think you already came back too hard, take a sec and check out how you’re doing in these pitfalls or early come back areas.
- Eat nourishing foods and adequate calories.Feed your body what it needs: Whole, nourishing foods that provide enough protein, fat, carbs, and vitamins. Our hormones and metabolize have changed and there are new physical demands. Restricting calories will cause additional stress on your body and not aid in fat loss. You might find that you’re super hungry all the time. A good rule of thumb is to include a protein, fat, fruit or grain, and vegetable at every meal.
- Sleep and restorative activities are A Number 1.Caring for babies and young kids requires a lot of energy. When you come into class, work with your coach to modify the workouts to be energizing and restorative. You won’t be sleeping much, which puts your body under stress. Piling on intense workouts when you’re already depleted is silly and counterproductive. Move well and move often! It sounds boring to do glute bridges instead of sit ups or lifting less than 50% of your 1RM but the Magic will be in the boring. Do Crossfit in a way that restores you and energizes you. After my son Jett was born, I barely slept. Showing up to a 9am class felt like the only thing that would give me energy to move along through the day. It was a cup of morning joe. Not only to move my body but to see and talk to all of you, and to smile with my friends. Seek to get back to a body that feels supported and strong…one that can lift heavy things without injury, that can sprint upstairs to a crying baby and carry a toddler with strong bicep and back. Know the path may feel lame and long but it’s actually just calm and basic and worth it.-Coach Jessie