So, you’re no longer peeing your pants, your bits and pieces have mostly recovered, and you’ve gotten the green light to return to exercise from your midwife or OB. Fabulous! This is the moment you’ve been dreaming about! You’re going to soar! You’re going to twirl! You’re going to…. honestly? Cry. Or scream. Or both.
Not inverting effortlessly (or at all) the first weeks back in the studio? Yep – me neither. But, before you hyperventilate, here are some things to internalize.
- your ab muscles were just stretched waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out – it takes TIME for them to shrink back down to a place where they can work meaningfully.
- how quickly you bounce back depends a lot on how easy things were before you got knocked up. Were inversions a struggle then? Easy peasy? How strong were those muscles before you took time off and stretched your abs over a baby the size of a watermelon?
- you’re sleep deprived, and please believe me when I say that no one is at their strongest when they’ve been up every two hours with an infant. Even if you’re co-sleeping and breastfeeding lying down, or bottle feeding with your partner taking every other shift, you’re still tired. F-ing tired.
- hormooooooooooooooooooooooooooones! Whoa Nelly, nobody talks about the hormones! Especially if you’re breastfeeding, you are a hormonal soup. You may be extremely emotional, or even still a bit depressed. Some hormones relax everything – including your joints – and that affects how training feels. You may also struggle emotionally if training differs from what you’d envisioned.
- did you bring the baby with you to training? Understand that a) everyone will want to see the behbeh and talk to you, and b) babies are not the best at letting you get stuff done. If you find that you can’t meaningfully train with the baby in tow, see if you can tank ’em up and have someone watch the little cherub for an hour. I know it feels like they won’t possibly survive the hour without you, but taking a bit of time for yourself sets a very necessary precedent – you are a person with needs too. Sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle. You’ll return renewed, happy, and enthusiastic, and that’s good for everyone!
Strategies for Getting Back in the Air
- Time. Time time time. Breathe. There is nothing wrong with you. Your abs are shrinking on their own time.
- Chat with your caregiver about diastisis recti. If you have a separation, you’ll need to be proactive in dealing with it. Click here for a great resource.
- Listen to your body, and pay very close attention to what it needs. Now is not the time to deal with where you THINK you ought to be, it’s a time to see where you are and trust that everything is coming together in it’s own time.
- Record your progress – it may not be as slow as you think!
- Exercise is good for you, which is good for the bebe! Negotiate with a partner, friend, or babysitter so that you get daily time to move your body.
All in all, it will take some time before you feel like yourself again (it took 6 months for me). It will happen, but not as quickly as you might like. Be gentle with yourself, mama! If other moms look like they have it all together, repeat after me: it’s an illusion. Check their purse – I’ll bet there’s a poopy diaper in it. 😉 Love and pull-ups, Laura
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