What I Wish I Had Known After My First Pregnancy: Kendra’s Story
Exercising after pregnancy and giving birth can be such a daunting experience.
Not only do you have a small baby at home who demands all of your attention (or even if your baby is 4 years old – they demand a lot of attention too!), you might wonder what on earth you could possibly do to feel ‘normal’ again.
Because nothing feels normal.
Your body has been through one of the most traumatic, yet joyful experiences of your life. Talk about complicated!
Add in the copious amounts of information available about ‘getting your body back’, and it makes it even more complicated. Who do you trust to tell you what’s ‘right’, and how do you know they actually know what they are talking about?
I know how hard it can be, because I’ve been there too.
After I had my first baby, I dutifully waited the prescribed 6 weeks before I did anything at all that involved my core and pelvic floor, other than a few kegels here and there. I was scared that I would do something wrong if I wasn’t physically healed enough.
I needed reassurance and waited patiently for the verbal “OK” from my doctor because I thought her OK meant I wasn’t going to injure myself if I started exercising then.
I mean, for the first 3 weeks I could barely walk to the bathroom without feeling like my insides were going to fall out of me. Working out? Pffft. No way.
Leading up to my 6-week appointment, I was counting the days until “I can exercise again!” I built it up in my head as this monumental occasion and pictured my doctor giving me exact guidelines on how to start exercising.
Boy was I WRONG.
I went in for my appointment, she checked me out, felt around a little bit and was like “Everything looks good. You can start exercising now.”
That was it.
My bubble was officially busted. I waited 6 weeks for THAT?!
So my Type-A personality took over and I started training with gusto. I was going to ‘get myself back’ starting right then and there.
I even signed up for a half-marathon near my son’s 1st birthday to celebrate ‘getting my body back’. (A marathon which I was going to run while pushing him in the stroller of course – told you I am Type A…)
But you know what?
I had to cancel the race. And if you know me, you know I don’t cancel stuff I sign up for. I show UP.
But 6 months postpartum and 6 months before the race, I still couldn’t jog the block without my insides feeling like they were falling out. My core felt like it was jiggling around like a water balloon. I still had a little bit of pain in the front of my pelvis when I ran. My hips felt out of alignment and my back felt weak. And if that wasn’t bad enough, every time I ran my freaking feet would swell to the point that I could barely walk!
I felt like I was doing everything I possibly could to get stronger and nothing seemed to work. I mean, I’m a trainer!! I should know how to do this!
I seriously contemplated if I would EVER feel strong again, or if this was just the new ‘me’ I had to work with. Maybe things would just feel a little off from now on, and that’s the trade-off for having a kid.
Little did I know then, postpartum training is ENTIRELY different than your usual fitness training.
I had no idea that postpartum repair was such a specific process. I had no idea that some of the exact same ‘core work’ I thought would get me right back in shape, actually made my recovery longer. And I do this for a living!!
I was humbled to say the least.
So I started pouring myself into research. I knew how the body works, and I knew how well it can be healed and repaired. “This was no different!” I told myself.
I scoured my anatomy books and dove into postpartum repair theories. I took corrective exercise courses and studied everything I could to understand what happens to our bodies when we have babies.
And boy…does a lot happen to our bodies during pregnancy and childbirth. (More on that later ladies – it’s a doozy.)
Over the next year, I made myself a guinea pig for every theory I learned (and there are a LOT of theories out there). Some didn’t feel right, and some felt amazing. Some were anatomically puzzling, others made so much sense I wanted to try it out right then and there.
A year later, after all the trial and error training, my son was 2 years old and I was finally feeling strong again.
In fact, I felt stronger than I did before I had my son.
I was so excited I had to test out all these theories on everyone I knew. So for the next year and a half, I did.
I work with a lot of women already, and I started testing my theories on my current clients and new clients who had recently had babies too. (And they were willing participants!)
When I tell you the results were astounding, I’m not kidding. It worked. Pelvic pain disappeared. Tailbone pain dissipated. Core ‘dead zones’ woke up from the dead. Pee leaks started disappearing. Their strength skyrocketed. Even my 84 year old client who had her kids 50 years ago was able to minimize her incontinence.
But through all of this, do you know what my one regret is in my own recovery?
Not starting sooner with the specific exercises that are meant to gently wake up the core and pelvic floor after all the trauma they had been through.
If I had known that it’s actually OK to feel your core and pelvic floor engage before 6 weeks, I would have saved myself months of agony and mentally beating myself up.
If I had known what I know now, it’s likely I would have been back to running within just a couple of months of giving birth.
Fortunately, you get to benefit from my ‘live and learn’. And I’m so excited that you’re here with us right now.
You’re in the right place, mama.