This pregnancy has definitely had its ups and downs with fitness since the onset. I came into the pregnancy is relatively good shape. In fact, I would say that at certain points over the last three years, my postpartum fitness was actually better than before I had been pregnant with Atlas.
About a year postpartum, I began working at a Crossfit gym and I became the strongest I had ever been in my life. That’s not to say that I didn’t encounter some setbacks. Over the course of my postpartum journey I had experienced some fluctuations due to some adrenal stuff (too much effort without enough sleep), a couple of injuries, and a pregnancy loss, but as a whole I’ve felt pretty good physically since starting lifting again at about 8 months postpartum. I’ve had to navigate some pelvic floor issues, modify movements, learn proper breathing techniques, even modifying my yoga practice at times to accommodate the changes that happen after you go through a major physical change like pregnancy and birth.
With my first pregnancy, I was pretty low key during the first trimester due to extreme nausea, but soon found a rhythm of yoga about 4 times a week and some backyard strength circuits about 3 times a week. These strength circuits were designed by yours truly. I no longer felt comfortable lifting heavy and also didn’t feel confident that the staff at my local gym knew how to appropriately scale workouts for me in my pregnancy. i opted to program movements for myself, in workouts that were untimed and more about moving well than maintaining some level of fitness.
This pregnancy, the first trimester fatigue hit me really hard. Not only that, but the increase in relaxin (a hormone designed to loosen joints to prepare for birth) triggered a preexisting instability that I frequently battle in my knees. All of a sudden I’m modifying on top of modifying. After lots of support from my PT and education from online resources like Brianna Battles of Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism, the work of Julie Wiebe, and Lindsey Matthews of Birthfit, I felt much more equipped to stick with the gym.
Now I am happy to say that I’m making it to my yoga mat about 2 times per week and at the gym about 3 times per week. Still lifting, though less than I was previously able. I’m moving slower, more deliberately. Extra mindful of my breath and managing the pressure in my abdomen as well as the stability of my hips and glutes to protect my sketchy knee.
Admittedly, it’s hard to push past my “athlete brain” that knows I’ve been able to push harder, do more, and go faster; but it takes some time to settle into acceptance of the current phase of life. One thing that helps is remembering that I regained and reclaimed fitness after my first pregnancy with relative ease. I will live to work hard another day.
Another thing that helped was finding some programming through Brianna and Heather Osby. I purchased their Pregnant Athlete Training Program about 12 weeks into my pregnancy and let me tell you, it’s been SO NICE to have some trustworthy folks giving me my workouts day after day. Gone are the days of picking random movements to do each week, I have a plan and it’s simple to stick to. There’s plenty of variety so I don’t get bored and there’s guidance available for those moments when something doesn’t feel right or comfortable in my body.
All in all, I would say that I’m still figuring it out, but I feel much more educated and prepared this time around.